Secretary Clinton on Development and Innovation

Secretary Hillary Clinton gave a major speech on global development policy yesterday, focusing particularly on how State, Defense, USAID, and other federal agencies can collaborate to improve our development work. She made a strong case for why development matters, and went on to lay out six efforts already underway to step our global game up.  I'll direct your attention to number five:

Fifth, we are increasing our nation's investment in innovation.

Hillary ClintonNew technologies are allowing billions of people to leapfrog into the 21st century after missing out on 20th-century breakthroughs. Farmers armed with cell phones can learn the latest local market prices and know in advance when a drought or flood is on its way. Mobile banking allows people in remote corners of the world to use their phones to access savings accounts or send remittances home to their families. Activists seeking to hold governments accountable for how they use resources and treat citizens use blogs and social networking sites to shine the spotlight of transparency on the scourges of corruption and repression.


This innovation tradition is even more critical today. And we are pursuing several ways to advance discovery and make sure useful innovations reach the people who need them. We are expanding our direct funding of new research. We're exploring venture funds, credit guarantees, and other tools to encourage private companies to develop and market products and services that improve the lives of the poor. We are seeking more innovative ways to use our considerable buying power -- for example, through advance market commitments -- to help create markets for those products, so entrepreneurs can be sure that breakthroughs made on behalf of the poor successfully reach them.


With help from the State Department, U.S. tech companies are working with the Mexican government, telecom companies, and NGOs to reduce narco-violence, so citizens can easily and anonymously report gang activity in their neighborhoods. We've brought three tech delegations to Iraq, including a recent visit by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, who announced that his company will launch an Iraqi government YouTube channel to promote transparency and good governance. And we're sending a team of experts to the Democratic Republic of Congo this spring to begin the process of bringing mobile banking technology to that country.

It's really encouraging to hear the State Department-- an organization historically known for its preference for tradition over innovation-- putting these ideas forward. We at NDN, as you may know, have been talking about similar subjects for a long time; here, for your reference, since it's been a while, is a sampling of our major work:

“Twitter, Iran, and More: Impressions from the Front Lines of the Global Media Revolution”
7/15/09: with Nico Pitney, Eric Jaye, and Theo Yedinsky
This discussion brought together three individuals on the front lines of Twitter's use in domestic and global politics.

mHealth for Development
6/26/09: with Alec Ross, Tom Kalil, and Sen. Tim Wirth

NDN co-hosted the release of a paper published by the UN Foundation and the Vodaphone Foundation examining the potential for mobile technology to improve healthcare delivery in the developing world.

Douglas Alexander on Conflict, Fragility, and International Development
4/27/09: With Douglas Alexander
Douglas Alexander, the British Secretary of State for International Development, joined NDN for a frank discussion of the role of local politics in development in fragile states and conflict-affected areas.

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution
10/8/08: By Tom Kalil

Kalil analyzes the power of mobile to create economic growth, better public health, and stronger democracies in the developing world.

A Laptop in Every Backpack
05/01/07: By Alec Ross and Simon Rosenberg
Ross and Rosenberg argue that connectivity to the global information network has become an essential part of life in the 21st century, and call for a “A Laptop in Every Backpack” to prepare our children for this new world.