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US unis team in development project

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a major new project combining the research efforts of US and foreign universities to provide solutions for the developing world.

“We will recapture the legacy of science, technology and innovation as core drivers of development"

The Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) will connect American scientists with their counterparts abroad as well as provide more fellowships for researchers, engineers and physicians. USAID will give US$130million to the project over five years with universities and partners matching what they receive.

“The Higher Education Solutions Network is the latest step in USAID’s efforts to harness the best ideas from the academic and scientific community and young people worldwide to foster transformational progress in development,” said USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah.

“We will recapture the legacy of science, technology and innovation as core drivers of development – as well as inspire and support the next generation of development leaders.”

Through the project, institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California – Berkeley and Makerere University in Uganda will establish a “development lab” where researchers can collaborate with with USAID experts on areas such as global health, food security and chronic conflict.

Remits will vary. At Texas A&M, researchers will focus on improving agricultural productivity while The College of William & Mary will help USAID advance its use of data and analytics to improve decision-making.

Makerere University will create online courses with a special focus on people helping themselves to get an education, while MIT and Berkeley will team to create new curricula based around development issues.

“We know we cannot do the work we try to do solely building on the past”

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton Clinton hailed the project as a new approach to development. “We know we cannot do the work we try to do solely building on the past, looking at what might have worked 10 years ago or 20 years ago,” she said.

“Nobody does that in the private sector, and it’s perhaps slightly more difficult to change direction in the public sector, but we know we must, and this is a very strong indicator of that.”

She added that the government’s “dream” was that the project would expand and “development labs would be working around the world, all networked and creating very positive outcomes for millions and millions of people.”

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