ARUSHA, Tanzania— From July 7 to Aug. 9, 2014 the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) will assemble for its 8th annual conference to confront the world’s most pressing issues in development through the creation of low-cost technologies. This year the Summit will be held in Arusha, Tanzania to gather people from around the globe who aim to generate technologies and enterprises that will strive to improve lives of the world’s poor.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), a consortium of Tanzanian organizations and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Lab are the primary organizers for the event. IDDS will focus on the production of prototypes and research and development rather than the traditional approach of academic papers to support reduction in global poverty. The Summit will allow potential entrepreneurs to gain first hand experiences in turning an innovative idea into a reality. The goal is to move beyond the business plan stage and to develop a concrete product that will contribute towards breaking the cycle of global poverty.
IDDS was established through MIT in 2007 to encourage the implementation of research and development efforts that would focus on addressing the needs of the world’s poor. The founder, Amy Smith, was inspired by the Vehicle Design Summit in the summer of 2006 that gave MIT students the opportunity to build environmentally sound vehicles. In July 2007, 50 people from 16 countries arrived at MIT to participate in the inaugural conference. Projects from the first summit ranged from innovations in low-cost refrigeration to improved health tracking systems.
IDDS is composed of an eclectic body of members from over 20 countries and six regions across the world-Central and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Africa. The occupations of its participants range from those immersed in academia to skilled laborers in agriculture, engineering and the healthcare fields. The Summit emphasizes the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration in order to construct effective technologies and businesses that will combat challenges in development. Last year’s Summit held in Zambia included design innovations in aluminum recycling, charcoal processing, child nutrition, menstrual hygiene, waste management and health information communications and technology (ICT).
This year’s members will learn about the importance of integrated work methods which requires immersing oneself within a community to develop new technologies to support ending poverty. Participants will first gain exposure to the general design process and then will travel to meet nearby communities and learn about the pertinent development challenges they face. With this acquired knowledge, the participants will have sufficient information to begin designing and testing a model to better a problem affecting a population.
Halfway through the month-long Summit, participants will return to their respective communities to share their progress and discuss ways to improve upon the developing prototype. The projects will then be polished and shared with the community before the Summit culminates with the presentation of the finalized ventures at the Nane Nane Agricultural Fair on Aug. 8, 2014.
After the completion of the Summit, this year’s members will be inducted into the IDIN network, which is made up of more than 350 trailblazers from around the world in their respective fields. In order promote sustainability, IDIN will attempt to connect the innovators and with the necessary funding, training, peer support and mentorship to promote the future production of their technologies.
– Talia Langman
Sources: D-Lab, IDD Summit, MIT News
Photo: Social Earth