22 July 2016

Every Woman Every Child Innovation Marketplace

Despite progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), more than 6.3 million children and around 300,000 women still die in pregnancy and childbirth each year. In the early years of life, 1 in 3 children fail to reach their full potential. The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health launched in 2015 as a front runner platform to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has set targets to improve this situation.

To meet those targets, a stronger focus on innovations will be required. However, innovative healthcare solutions are currently subject to a bottleneck at the “critical testing and transition to scale” stage—at which point innovative technologies require either:

  • Critical Testing: $250,000 – $1,000,000 to further prove a transformative concept
  • Transition to Scale: $1,000,000 – $15,000,000 to scale sustainably

Channels for connecting innovators to partners and funds are inefficient at these critical testing and transition to scale stages. To tackle this bottleneck, Every Woman Every Child launched an Innovation Marketplace.

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace is a strategic alliance of development innovation organizations. The goal is to transition to scale 20 Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (WCAH) investments by 2020, and, by 2030, to see at least 10 of these innovations widely available and having significant impact on women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing.

These goals will be achieved by pooling the WCAH capabilities of development innovation organizations across four key functions: pipeline, curation, brokering, and investment. This means consolidating existing proof of concept pipelines on a single platform; curating the proof of concept pipeline to find promising investments and identifying existing gaps; bringing investment opportunities in a structured manner to governments, the private sector, foundations, and other organizations; and investing funds in successful deals with an eye towards catalyzing scale, sustainability, and impact.

Value proposition

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace offers a widened pipeline for development innovation organizations, as well as increased curation and brokering efficiency, a public good outlet for “off strategy” deals, and a means of reciprocal engagement with a growing global network of other development innovation funders. To governments, philanthropists, social financiers, and traditional investors, the EWEC Innovation Marketplace is a direct referral source of risk-reduced investments in innovation, complete with technical expertise and a commitment to impact measurement within the Global Strategy. To innovators, the EWEC Innovation Marketplace data and connections will serve to facilitate consolidation, collaboration, and identification of gaps.

Function

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace will pave the way for innovation to move from early proof of concept to critical testing and transition to scale by combining the strengths of its individual partners to create a fully integrated platform facilitating action among four interlinked elements: pipeline, curation, brokering, and investment.

Pipeline: USAID, BMGF, GCC, Others (ex. GIF), GC Network

This refers to the whole pool of early stage (R&D and early proof of concept) WCAH innovations currently supported by development innovation funders up to $250,000. The existing ipeline information is highly fragmented among funders. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace’s role is to facilitate the consolidation and standardization of pipeline information—including through the development of common data elements and a web-platform to allow easier comparative analysis, access to information and data-transfer. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace doesn’t contribute to the sourcing of this pipeline, but celebrates diverse approaches to sourcing and recognizes that work remains to be done to improve and diversify sourcing processes among partners.

Curation: USAID, BMGF, GCC, PATH, Others (ex. GIF), GC Network

This element of the EWEC Innovation Marketplace refers to comparative analysis of innovations in the pipeline. It answers the question: “which of these innovations shows the most promise for impact on the health of women, children and adolescents?” The EWEC Innovation Marketplace will stimulate, organize, and finance curation exercises. Potentially transformative innovations, which require further validation of specific proof points, will be flagged by curators as promising candidates for critical testing investment. Promising innovations with mature business models and established proof of concept will, by contrast, be flagged as promising for transition to scale investment. Throughout this process, curation will identify gaps in the pipeline, encouraging the development of innovations and expertise wherever gaps are identified.

Brokering: USAID, BMGF, GCC, Others (ex. GIF), GC Network, WHO, UN Foundation

Brokering is the EWEC Innovation Marketplace’s role of conducting due diligence on innovations identified as promising during curation, as well as matching promising innovations to appropriate investors—whether governments, impact investors and venture capitalists, multinational corporations, or philanthropic institutions or individuals. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace will also test new models of brokering, such as the listing of innovations on an online-accessible platform and the use of annual events like the United Nations General Assembly and World Health Assembly to serve as brokering platforms and to celebrate successful deals.

Investment: USAID, BMGF, GCC, Others (ex. GIF), GC Network , Governments

Investment refers to a process of decision making to fund innovations for critical testing and for transition to scale. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace facilitates investment by mobilizing a dedicated core of development innovation funders. It also opens new pools of capital by connecting innovators and core funders to coalitions of third party funders (as described above, under brokering) including domestic governments and the private sector—especially to those who have made discretionary commitments to the broader Every Woman Every Child movement.


Partners

Widened pipeline

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace innovations have been sourced and funded through diverse and competitive channels. Relative to the pipelines of individual partners, the Marketplace pipeline will be a deeper competitive environment of ideas across vectors like geography and subject-matter focus.
Increased brokering/curation efficiency

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace will pool transactional and administrative costs of curation and brokering. It will therefore allow partners to dedicate more resources to the substance of these activities. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace also eases third party engagement by providing a single entry point for third party capital to WCAH development innovation.

Reciprocal engagement with a growing partner network

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace will provide value to domestic development innovation funders (e.g. the Grand Challenges network of institutions including Grand Challenges Brazil India, Israel, Thailand, and South Africa) by facilitating their access to capital and in-kind support at critical testing and transition to scale. Reciprocally, domestic funders will feed the EWEC Innovation Marketplace pipeline with local proof of concept innovations; lend their expertise and contextual knowledge to curation exercises; provide a staging and implementation ground for innovations; and provide appropriate domestic entry points for brokering activities—especially by providing inroads to domestic governments, which the EWEC Innovation Marketplace envisions as important potential investors and second line brokers.

More oxygen to promising innovations

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace complements unilateral curation efforts with a parallel process based on mutually established criterion; enabling the funding of innovations which may not be funded under individual criterion or; in other cases, providing a secondary validation of unilateral investments according to more balanced metrics. Practically, this means that good innovations get more oxygen. It also creates a “public good” channel for development innovation funders to move pipeline innovations that they consider “off-strategy” (but nonetheless strong on their own merits) to other funders.


Investors

The EWEC Innovation Marketplace hopes to be mutually inclusive of philanthropic, social finance, public sector and traditional capital investors. It offers a value proposition to each. For charitable foundations and venture philanthropists, it is a space to achieve maximum impact for dollar value within an internationally-sanctioned Global Strategy. For private lenders and social financiers, it is a source of highly curated, risk-reduced, and potentially scalable ventures. As a result, its investors will benefit from unique competitive advantages and economies of scale, detailed below.

Risk-reduced, scalable investments

JP Morgan’s 2015 Global Social Finance Report notes that “lack of appropriate capital across the risk/return spectrum” is the most serious barrier to social-finance investment. The EWEC Innovation Marketplace addresses this problem. By the time its partners have pooled, cross-screened, and curated their proof of concept stage technologies, proposed investments are risk-reduced relative to the general tech innovation space.

Direct referral deal-sourcing and wide reach

The 2015 Global Social Finance Report also finds that “being brought by another investor or co-investor is the most effective means of deal-sourcing” in the social impact investing space. Here, too, the Innovation Marketplace has a strong advantage over other social impact investment vehicles. The pipeline is sourced across all partners and the deal making process involves direct referral of curated pipeline opportunities to private sector partners.

Technical expertise and impact measurement

At the front-end, the EWEC Innovation Marketplace’s integrated structure means its curative experts may provide technical advisory support to investors with questions about individual innovations. At the back-end, third party investors will have a line of sight into the health outcomes associated with their investments thanks to the impact measurement work of co-investors.