Our work

GKI builds purpose-driven networks to deliver innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.  We thrive on creating the enabling environment, the mindset, and the tools that make Collaborative Innovation possible.

Specifically, we help innovators locate resources critical for problem solving; enable effective collaboration by building skills and designing shared agendas; and connect resources and partners into durable networks; all to solve pressing problems and create shared value.

Our worldview

GKI is a new type of non-profit organization focused on maximizing what’s available to solve pressing global development problems like food insecurity, environmental degradation, and disease control and prevention.  As a global community, we are poised to take on these complex issues.  But to do so we need to confront what’s prevented so many previous well intentioned efforts from succeeding at scale. GKI believes it is not a failure of intellect, nor a lack of resources, that keeps us from solving complex, global development challenges.  Rather, the failure lies in how we connect committed individuals and their resources—technologies, expertise, financing—to fill these gaps.  GKI believes we need better methods for connecting the resources we have – experts, technology, knowledge – to the people and places that need them most.  Collaborative Innovation is all about bridging those gaps and helping people connect so that they can do more with less: more problem solving, more knowledge sharing, more life changing.

Our approach

GKI’s unique way of working sets us apart.  As an organization, we:

  • Leverage Diversity: We see value in an array of perspectives and ideas, and know that they enrich the problem solving strategies our networks pursue.
  • Engage Meaningfully: We use facilitated experiences to connect partners and propel purpose-driven networks.
  • Take a Systems Perspective: GKI knows development challenges do not occur in a vacuum.  We examine challenges through a systems lens to understand the many interconnected and constantly changing pieces before designing problem-solving strategies.
  • Iterate and Learn: We emphasize feedback loops and continuous learning across our programs.  A learning-while-doing organization, GKI knows that getting better, in part, means getting smarter about both failures and opportunities.

Examples of our approach in action

GKI has worked with a variety of stakeholders around the world.  We work at all levels of a system—from the individual all the way up to national and global policymaking bodies—because we believe that is the way to achieve long-term impact.  Examples of our work at five levels reveal how GKI takes a comprehensive approach to enabling Collaborative Innovation to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.

Our geographical focus

GKI has served problem solvers from more than 60 countries since our launch in 2009. GKI is demonstrating impact through ongoing initiatives in East and Southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and the United States. Through our networked approach, our work has a truly global footprint:

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Our origin story

GKI started as an experiment.  Could an institution design a replicable, effective approach to promoting Collaborative Innovation and building purpose-driven networks globally?  Intrigued by this question were GKI’s three co-founders: Nina Fedoroff, a biotechnologist and former Science and Technology Advisor to the US Secretary of State, Sara Farley, an innovation strategist who’d helped the World Bank, United Nations, and other organizations craft their innovation strategies and programming, and Sam Pitroda, a world-renowned telecom entrepreneur.

Many trials and lessons later, our results indicate we are on to something exciting and transformative.  Now, the term and its importance are everywhere.  From a single pilot program in Rwanda, GKI has gone on to work with individuals from 60 countries and with thousands of partners.  We are proud to see our efforts producing results, yet we remain hungry for even greater impact.

Our language: “How Might We”

When using science, technology and innovation to solve the world’s most pressing challenges, there are often opportunities missed: brilliant thinkers are in the room, resources are available and yet something still goes wrong: the wrong questions are asked or even the wrong problems (not the root problems) are “solved!”  A key component to this problem lies in the language used.  Three words can help:  How might we?

Introducing a challenge with How might we turns a problem statement into an opportunity for innovative thinking.  How might we also enables us to ask ourselves if we’re thinking too small or too grand in scale. When considering how to frame a challenge, we create a statement that leaves room for brainstorming and creative solutions but has boundaries that help us to set a starting point.

How might we orient ourselves to innovation opportunity rather than unsurmountable challenges?