GKI Expands Reach Of Global Collaborative Innovation Trainings

April 13, 2014
Researchers from UTM use collaborative innovation skills to engage the community of Air Papan, Malaysia. Photo Credit: GKI
Researchers from UTM use collaborative innovation skills to engage the community of Air Papan, Malaysia. Photo Credit: GKI

2013 saw tremendous growth in the scope of GKI’s training program. We use experiential training, simulations, and interactives to demystify the how-to of working together to solve a common challenge. Mining best-inclass models of collaborative innovation worldwide, we formulate relevant and valuable curricula for use with some of the most inspiring and fearless innovators globally.

For example, in July 2013, GKI trainers coached innovators who had won grants through USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Saving Lives at Birth.” During the training, we worked to help Muhammad Zaman, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, reach scale with his invention PharmaCheck, a device that detects for counterfeit drugs. Expanding the scope of our trainings, we’re bringing the tools that we used to help innovators like Muhammad to less-likely venues for training, and even more unlikely innovators.

Our aim is to bring our curricula to several geographies, empowering a growing cohort of worldwide collaborative innovation experts, be they health innovators, policymakers, farmers, or entrepreneurs. As part of this mission to create a global cadre of trained collaborative innovation experts, GKI recently conducted trainings in Malaysia and Rwanda.

In Malaysia, GKI officially kicked off its partnership with the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with a series of trainings on collaborative innovation in November 2013. GKI trained over 20 researchers studying and working in fields like mechanical engineering, chemistry, architecture, and human resources. Using a “Training of Trainers” format, similar to that used for our training program in Tanzania, researchers were not only instructed in the use of a number of collaborative innovation tools, such as Challenge Mapping, but were empowered to use these tools in their own work, and in their classrooms, to help solve development challenges. Separately, two rounds of students, totaling 60, enthusiastically participated in trainings to acquire a similar suite of methods and tools. Both students and researchers quickly applied their newly-acquired collaborative innovation know-how at the Community Kickoff Meeting for the UTM-GKI Water Challenge. Using a range of problem-framing, design, and context analysis skills, the participating community members— students, government officials, and researchers—committed to action on specific challenges in eco-tourism, fisheries, and agriculture that face the community of Air Papan, Malaysia.

In another example, GKI partnered with a team from Michigan State University (MSU) and Washington State University (WSU) to provide collaborative innovation training to faculty and staff from the University of Rwanda’s (UR) College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. The December 2013 “Link and Learn” workshop, part of the USAID-funded Women’s Leadership Program at UR, focused on helping UR faculty and staff build skills needed to develop women leaders in the agriculture sector through innovative curriculum, research, and mentoring. Twenty-five faculty and staff members received training on GKI’s collaborative innovation process, imbuing them with skills for building shared vision in their faculty and dissecting those challenges that need to be solved to achieve Rwanda’s national development goals.

GKI is committed to building the capacity of innovators and problem solvers throughout the developed and developing world. Training on collaborative innovation helps researchers and others gain the skills they need to generate real solutions to the most pressing and complex challenges in international development. With trainings planned on at least three continents in 2014, GKI’s pledge to magnify the power of the world’s seven billion solvers continues to guide our work.

Contributors: Andrew Bergmanson and Andrew Gerard

GKI Program Officer Andrew Gerard and Rwanda Minister of Agriculture, the honorable Dr. Agnes Kalibata, along with representatives of Michigan State University, the University of Rwanda, and Washington State University after a successful training.
GKI Program Officer Andrew Gerard and Rwanda Minister of Agriculture, the honorable Dr. Agnes Kalibata, along with representatives of Michigan State University, the University of Rwanda, and Washington State University after a successful training.