Development Co-operation Directorate

Innovation in development co-operation


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Innovation is at the heart of many successful development and humanitarian efforts – from cash transfers to microfinance to new vaccines. Innovation is key to development effectiveness, yet not systematically engrained in co-operation policies and programmes.

Investments in novel approaches and technologies have transformed the lives of poor and vulnerable people

In the context of development co-operation, innovation refers to concrete solutions – new technologies, business models, policy practices, approaches and partnerships – that help advance progress against development goals and accelerate learning. Innovation is also a process with distinct characteristics to help challenge the status quo.

A growing number of members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is investing in innovation capabilities. In 2019, we undertook an in-depth review of innovation capabilities across the DAC membership and found promising practice, increasing momentum for strategic innovation and a number of areas that require further improvements to leverage the potential of innovation for development. In 2021, the members of the DAC endorsed the launch of the OECD Innovation for Development Facility. We work with DAC members and other partners on uncovering opportunities and risks, standardising good practice, and turning the new into the normal.

Selected publications:

How do we help advance strategic and inclusive innovation for development?

The OECD Innovation for Development Facility (INDEF) was set up to strengthen practice and accelerate learning on strategic innovation for development. In support of the i30, a peer-learning group representing the innovation units and focal points in DAC member countries, the Facility focuses on three primary threads to leverage the potential of innovation, and boost the effectiveness of development co-operation:

    • Provide data and analysis

    • Establish a common understanding of the different forms of innovation, measure their impact, and generate evidence on the business case for innovation.
    • Support good practices

    • Providing advice, strengthening linkages with innovators in partner countries, advancing localisation, and reinforcing the capabilities of DAC members.
    • Facilitate peer learning

    • Enhance coordination and generate evidence of good practices across the DAC and beyond.

Work with us

We provide the OECD DAC i30 group with peer-learning mechanisms, innovation knowledge and practice analysis, and advisory services.

We also engage with many other individuals and organisations around the globe in pursuit of the best existing and emerging knowledge and practice, including innovation experts from public and private sectors in OECD countries; experts in partner countries, including people directly affected by development challenges; multilateral organisations, innovation networks, and others interested in improving development impact. Our strategic partnership with the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA) contributes to our work on systems innovation, mission-oriented innovation, and innovation ecosystems.

Are you a researcher, innovation practitioner, development expert, or development organisation interested in innovation from DAC member organisations?

Contact us to share your knowledge and ideas and challenge our thinking about innovation for development.


  • Innovation Portfolio Management

    • the Facility supports members of the DAC with the construction of a strategically designed innovation portfolio, so that risks and rewards are well balanced, and the portfolio has clear strategic intent.
  • Adoption of Innovation

    • the Facility offers services to DAC members on the design and implementation of institutional innovation adoption strategies, in order to institutionalise new ways of working and emerging technologies based on mainstream lessons learned from successful innovation investments across your organisation. Learn more here.
  • Mission Action Lab

    • generates evidence and lessons from experiences worldwide, with a view to accelerate learning between stakeholders, and facilitate exchanges between low, middle and high-income countries. It stems from a collaboration with the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation and the OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate. Learn more here.


Are you interested in working with us on any of these projects?

Get in touch! Click here to start the conversation. 


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