The Global Knowledge Initiative's programs focus on three aspects of the collaboration cycle: (1) locating critical resources, (2) building the capacity of people and institutions to make the most of opportunities to collaborate, and (3) connecting people, resources, and institutions together in partnerships that work to generate new knowledge or transfer it from where it is to where it is needed. Each of these different aspects of collaboration requires support for the cycle to unleash innovation. As successful partnerships form between individuals, institutions and the resources they seek, the cycle repeats.
The outputs of knowledge partnerships may be co-authored scientific papers, technological innovations, new courses and degree programs, or business enterprises built on the ideas and resources shared among collaborators.
Depending upon the type of knowledge partnership created, the impacts include greater scientific productivity of participating partners, increased value of goods produced, and healthier, wealthier, more participatory knowledge societies.
The challenges facing individuals and institutions seeking to collaborate are many. We identify the needs, connect potential partners, and facilitate their collaborative efforts through our five programs that mirror the collaboration cycle: Locate, Enable, and Connect.
Click on the images to the left to learn about our programs that address these aspects of collaboration
Two programs constitute the Global Knowledge Initiative's Locate function. These Locate programs serve a wide range of potential knowledge partners seeking resources. Knowledge partners may include scientists, teachers, students, and research and training institutions—particularly higher education institutions, government bodies concerned with science or education, donors, and even private sector firms working in research or education.
Program I: Needs Analysis, Research, and Evaluation
Objective: Uncover research, education, and innovation problems that stakeholders can solve through collaboration; Identify bottlenecks thwarting the contribution of available resources to problem solving; Gauge the collaboration potential of institutions, sectors, and/or countries.
Program II: Coalition
Objective: Identify and organize people, resources, institutions, and tools oriented toward the mission of forging, optimizing, and sustaining knowledge partnerships.
Through our LOCATE Programs the Global Knowledge Initiative can:
- Provide insights into context. When considering partnership in a new geography, insight into the factors that will enable collaborative science and innovation to deliver results is crucial. The Global Knowledge Initiative performs custom research into the political, economic, legal, and social context for science, technology, and innovation-based collaboration using trainable methodologies devised with the World Bank.
- Map institutional goals with development priorities. Mastering global partnership requires an International Collaboration Strategy. We offer a process for creating coherence and synergy between your university's internal priorities and those of global communities of interest specified by you.
- Clarify the partnership landscape. The Global Knowledge Initiative conducts research to establish a baseline of collaborative activity for departments or whole institutions. The resulting insights inform whether existing partnerships are being optimized or if new ones are required for an institution to reach its collaborative potential.
- Scout for optimal knowledge partners. We work with institutions to identify those global partners best positioned to join forces in addressing development challenges pertinent to science, technology, and innovation.
Program I: Needs Analysis, Research, and Evaluation
For most challenges, the greatest impediment to action is failure to locate existing, critically needed resources. Reinvented wheels, unread papers, and unrecognized experts illustrate the high price of inadequate "findability" when it comes to the critical resources that enable knowledge partnerships. Optimizing knowledge resources to enhance their findability is key to the success of platforms for coordination. The tools needed to make this dream possible exist, yet particularly in developing countries, such technologies to track resources and pair partners have not yet been harnessed effectively. When search engines fail to reveal the particular resource—be it a person, a paper, or a bit of knowledge described in a website—that a person seeks, an erroneous conclusion may result: "The resource I need must not exist."
The staff and advisers of the Global Knowledge Initiative include global science, technology, and innovation (STI) experts who have conducted national and global STI needs analyses and led extensive outreach efforts in Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. These analyses have been published by institutions including the World Bank, United Nations, national governments, and various philanthropic organizations.
Using Thomson Scientific's Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), the US National Academy of Sciences, the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), and tools developed in-house, the Global Knowledge Initiative helps scientists and their institutions identify partners seeking to collaborate on similar issues. To do so, we employ a research methodology devised with several top tier research organizations (the World Bank, Stanford Research International, and the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development). This methodology allows us to analyze science, technology, innovation, and education-related needs across a wide spectrum, ranging from the institutional level to the sectoral, national, and regional level. We organize the data into clear categories that match neatly to priority areas for program development.
Examples of Program I in action include an East Africa regional assessment of math and science education needs that must be addressed to help spur innovation-led growth within the East Africa Community and GKI assessing the impact of the Government of Finland's investment in collaborative innovation across South Africa's innovation system.
Program II: Coalition Building
Collaboration-maker. Catalyst. "Smart-router." These descriptions of the Global Knowledge Initiative hinge on our success in coalition building. In this program, we forge partnerships between people with unique sets of resources and tools to solve complex challenges and implement durable solutions. To do so, we analyze the partnership landscape to establish a baseline of collaborative activity for institutions and then identify where opportunities for partnership are greatest and help orient these coalitions' efforts toward forging, optimizing, and sustaining knowledge partnerships. For the Global Knowledge Initiative, collaboration is a means, not an end.
We have established partnerships with organizations specializing in web-enabled collaboration platforms like Medical Missions for Children and Supercourse and have reached into the university community, deepening our partnerships with several university networks such as RUFORUM (Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture), BIO.EARN (Eastern Africa Regional Program and Research Network for Biotechnology, Biosafety, and Biotechnology Policy Development), and the Inter-University Council of East Africa. Further, we are developing partnerships with many of the top universities represented at the Higher Education Summit for Global Development and at more recent events, like the Indo-US Summit on Higher Education (Mumbai, July 2010), which was co-chaired by the Global Knowledge Initiative and brought together some 800 participants from across India and the US.
GKI has two programs designed to build the capacity of higher education institutions, organizations, and governments to solve development challenges that require science, technology, and innovation for their amelioration. These programs include trainings in various collaboration strategies for scientists—both emerging and established—and assistance in designing, articulating, training, and implementing science, technology, and innovation policy.
Program III: Trainings
Objectives: Equip students, lecturers, researchers, policy makers, and science, technology, and innovation professionals with collaboration skills; Build the capacity of our partners to use a wider set of tools, optimize content, and improve performance, particularly in scientific fields.
Program IV: Policy and Strategy
Objectives: Assist institutions in developing and establishing science, technology, and innovation policies and strategies that enable problem solving across sectoral, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries.
Through our ENABLE Programs the Global Knowledge Initiative can:
- Develop strategies to enable collective action with policy and science, technology, and innovation communities. Solving development challenges that cut across sectoral, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries warrants participation by multiple communities. The Global Knowledge Initiative provides a structured process to help diverse stakeholders articulate a shared vision and a plan of action toward solving science, technology, and innovation-based challenges.
- Offer impact-oriented student research and faculty exchange opportunities. More than study abroad programs, we help institutions design and implement international experiential programs that inform student learning and staff enrichment while contributing positively to global development.
- Introduce open education resources (OER) and construct modules in specific STI disciplines. OER provides a mode of tapping the talent of the global professoriate. The Global Knowledge Initiative network helps deliver that body of knowledge to classrooms all over the world.
Program III: Trainings
Skill building is a cornerstone of our work. To date, our training program has equipped researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders from 20 countries with the analytic skills needed to assess their knowledge partnership landscape and the process skills required to enable collaborative innovation. These process skills include challenge mapping, challenge framing, and strategy. Moreover, we build the capacity of research and education institutions to use a wider set of tools, including those designed for open and distance learning, to optimize content and improve performance, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Recent examples of our training include delivery of our custom-designed course on Collaborative Innovation skills to participants from 16 Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African countries. The request for this training emerged through our partnership with the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the 57-country membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The course targeted mid-career professionals from government, research, and higher education, teaching them how to apply a number of the Global Knowledge Initiative's tools to solving challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, and elsewhere. The course addressed elements of establishing and analyzing successful innovation systems policies; recommendations for establishing equitable knowledge partnerships with international counterparts; and the role of international collaborative innovation in supporting national innovation systems.
Our training program also includes construction of a set of short-course modules that harness the expertise of leading scientists. For this initiative, the Global Knowledge Initiative partners with Supercourse and others to harvest content in multiple scientific disciplines, beginning with lectures on agriculture and biotechnology. The Library of Alexandria offered the project an invaluable resource in terms of storage, networking, and computing power. An array of technology partners contributes tools to integrate video-conferencing and video-capture.
See one of our flagship video lectures below. It was filmed for our pilot agricultural food security and biotechnology module through collaboration between the Global Knowledge Initiative, Medical Missions for Children, the Library of Alexandria, and Supercourse. The video showcases the capacity of global scientific experts to deploy their knowledge as a resource for partnership creation. Included in the module is a diverse array of content suited to different types of teachers and learners. By providing educators and learners anywhere with access to lectures, videos, and access to the content experts themselves, the program will empower the teachers of today to become the teachers of tomorrow.
Program IV: Policy and Strategy
This program helps orient institutions' efforts to encourage and enable collaborative science, technology, and innovation for problem-solving. With a deep understanding of both the global knowledge partnership landscape and the contours of donor support for science and innovation, and a vast network of science, technology, and innovation stakeholders around the world, the Global Knowledge Initiative provides valuable insight into a number of communities from which institutions can learn. We also provide a structured process for identifying priorities and mapping the way forward. Examples of our work include articulating policy and strategy, designing and implementing evaluations, and delivering trainings on each. In Uganda, for example, we responded to a request of the Uganda National Council on Science and Technology to design and facilitate a process of kick starting national science and innovation strategy-setting in Uganda. Learn more about the Global Knowledge Initiative's "Policy to Action" process here.
A highlight of our 2009-2010 policy and strategy work occurred when the US Agency for International Development's new Office of the Science and Technology Advisor selected the Global Knowledge Initiative to spearhead the overhaul of its science, technology, and innovation strategy. The result was a White Paper and a highly interactive two-day conference that brought together the heads of each US federal science agency, Nobel Laureates, the President's Science Advisor, and several luminaries from inside and beyond USAID's walls.
Program V: LINK
Building on the Locate and Enable functions that Programs I-IV support, Program V addresses the Connect function, which is critical for the formation of fruitful knowledge partnerships. Program V, called LINK (the Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions), matches scientists—those still in training or seasoned professionals—and entrepreneurs with opportunities to cross oceans, join forces, and innovate together.
Through the LINK program, the Global Knowledge Initiative helps to build collective action systems that allow knowledge partners across the world to contribute their know-how to solve specific development-related challenges in areas such as agriculture, health, education, energy, and transport.
Program V: LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge Partnerships)
Objective: Broker knowledge partnerships between developing and developed country research and training institutions and their scientists and entrepreneurs; Build the basis for sustained collaborations in training, research, and innovation to solve challenges in the lab, in the classroom, and in the community; Provide a process, tools, and the support needed to make sense of the knowledge partnership landscape and frame research/teaching/innovation challenges; Enable partners to locate collaborators, incentivize solvers, and support solution implementation to improve lives.
Through our LINK Program the Global Knowledge Initiative can:
- Convene International Collaboration Colloquia to accelerate knowledge partnership formation. It's the Information Age's answer to open science conferences injected with real-time matchmaking. The Global Knowledge Initiative helps institutions design and convene stakeholder events focused on partnership pathway construction specific to unique development challenges. Such gatherings have successfully kick-started global knowledge sharing and accelerated collaboration in the US, South Asia, and Africa.
- Catalyze focused partnerships aimed at delivering solutions to defined challenges. Through our LINK program, institutions can sponsor a challenge. With its longer-term approach to helping those who need critical resources— technological, human, institutional, knowledge-based, and financial—find and collaborate with those who have them, LINK is live in Africa, the US, and South Asia.
- Create informal forums for knowledge exchange between international partners. The Global Knowledge Initiative provides opportunities for partners to share knowledge and experiences through virtual means such as videoconferences and collaboration platforms, creating interactive options with low transaction costs. The result: a tool for exploration that institutions may wield to test the waters.
Program V: LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions)
The Global Knowledge Initiative is uniquely poised to accelerate the formation of LINK partnerships by combining available resources in new and powerful ways. We have engaged such organizations as the US National Academy of Sciences, the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS), the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research, numerous global university networks, and many other partners keen to help develop LINK.
LINK provides a three-phase approach to forging, optimizing, and sustaining global collaborations that solve shared problems. LINK Phase I begins with regional calls for engagement. LINK proponents are asked to define a problem they are confronting in terms of amenability to collaborative problem solving. All LINK teams are vetted by a Technical Committee of international scientists that is chaired by Dr. Nina Fedoroff. Once selected, the Global Knowledge Initiative trains each LINK team to catalogue available science, technology, and innovation resources and identify gaps. We then help them gauge teams' collaborative innovation baseline, which answers the question: "What am I getting from the resources and partners currently available to me?" More on our unique methodology used in LINK Phase I is available here.
In Phase II, the Global Knowledge Initiative helps partners identify and collaborate with people and institutions offering the resources they seek. Beyond matchmaking, LINK builds team members' collaboration skills. Too often scientists young and old learn the content skills required to master a particular discipline without learning the process skills required to translate that science into real-world solutions. The result is business as usual: more papers, but fewer solutions brought to scale. While co-authored papers are a valuable byproduct of the partnerships LINK forges, they are not the end goal.
The outputs of LINK, as elicited in Phase III, are real-world solutions—new drought resistant cassava seedlings, a milk-booster to fatten bull calves, an exciting hands-on curriculum for high school biology classes—with real-world uptake. Since the Global Knowledge Initiative recognizes that scaling an innovation often requires inclusion of solvers from different sectors, our role in Phase III is about identifying and connecting complementary initiatives and partners. Using web-enabled collaboration platforms and the heft of many science associations, academies, and networks with which the Global Knowledge Initiative partners, we pluck critical players—both within and outside the science, technology, and innovation community—from the universe of solvers. We then bolster their efforts by leveraging available partners and resources and broadening the implementation community until it becomes sufficient to realize success.
For each pilot country or region selected, the Global Knowledge Initiative identifies nationals active in science living within and outside of their home country/region for inclusion in the LINK program. Through generous grants from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Global Knowledge Initiative has launched LINK in two pilot geographies:
- East Africa
- Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA)