The 5A Framework: Proof of Concept & Acceleration for Impact

Over the last ten years, there has been a revolution in the way that innovative ideas, technology and research go from the field or lab into the global market.   The world is embracing innovation and entrepreneurship as the means by which economic value is created and lingering problems in society are solved.   Universities, labs and private companies commercialize the research being conducted by their faculty and scientists through proof of concept centers. And startups embraced a new business philosophy called the Lean Startup, which manifested itself in accelerator programs that have sprung up around the world.

​Equal Innovation works with NGOs and foundations through an individualized accelerator program with several steps to identify innovation, prove the concept and create pathways towards implementation and scale. The various stages of our 5A framework include:

Equal Innovation brings the proof of concept and acceleration principles to the development, social impact and philanthropic sectors.  Worldwide, we are seeing nearly 30% of startup projects at university proof of concept centers and startup accelerators focused on making a positive impact on society – either with a direct objective of social impact, or as a for-profit company in sectors like clean tech, wellness and agricultural productivity.  These startups often struggle to gain traction from lab to market because their natural funders and partners – foundations, philanthropy, NGOs and government agencies, often lack the expertise to pilot new technologies and implement them at scale.

Announcing: The 2020 Innovation and Impact Accelerator

Equal Innovation will be running it’s second Impact Accelerator for Indian CSR, philanthropy and foundations in 2020.  This experiential learning program is designed to help social sector players understand how to innovate and take ideas from whiteboard to field trial and then on to scale

Participant organizations benefit by:

  • Learning how they can start innovation pilots frugally

  • Testing and improving the intervention’s design early on prevents wastage of time and resources on less effective approaches

  • Creating an internal knowledge base for evaluating the effectiveness of programs

  • Leading to more engagement and specialization of CSR staff as they transition from traditional grant-making to co-creating innovative programs

​​Equal Innovation’s 2nd Impact & Innovation Accelerator will help social sector players to learn:

  • Case-studies on Impactful Social Sector Innovation in India and Globally,
  • Support innovation through customized grant-making processes,
  • Conduct pre-assessments of innovation program design(s),
  • Directing field-testing of intervention design(s),
  • Support small-scale pilots and scale up improved programs across your network

Recent Accelerator Participants

Unlike traditional startup accelerators, the Equal Innovation program places an emphasis on proof of concept and ensuring that the science and/or technology is ready for deployment in the field.  However, part of the accelerator also involves training funders, researchers and implementing agencies in the concepts of startups, from Lean Startup to idea generation, business model canvas, prototyping and developing networks of mentors, advisors and potential partners.   At the end of the accelerator, the funder or NGO will have data from field trials, or proof of the context in which the innovation will have impact.  Most importantly, the project will begin developing a business plan to become a stand-alone program of the foundation or its partner implementing agency. To learn more, click here.

Acceleration Partners

In 2019, Equal Innovation has been working with the following organizations to accelerate their growth through strategic planning, connection to investors/donors and building organizational capacity:

Everyday Boston (USA)

Everyday Boston is a grassroots, community-building organization. In a city that’s often divided street by street, and neighborhood by neighborhood, we’re working to break down the stereotypes that keep us separate, primarily through the sharing of stories.

 

Rungano Ndoto (Rwanda):

Providing leadership and job-training skills to Rwanda’s youth

Sukriti (India)

SUKRITI is working to solve two major developmental challenges of our society: Freedom from unhygienic sanitation & the Rejuvination of water bodies

United Teen Equality Center (USA)

UTEC’s mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. 

Mann Deshi Foundation (USA/India)

Our vision is to empower women to make their own choices and to be celebrated as equal and valuable members of their families and communities.

Innovation

Equal Innovation has worked closely with clients around the world to develop processes for innovation.  Equal Innovation has an expertise in creating programs and ecosystems within large organizations that allows to flourish and gain momentum with the appropriate oversight and buy-in.   Developing innovation ecosystems within organizations starts with a determination of how to integrate new ideas into traditional programs and activities.  The core work is to determine the areas of focus that are best suited for innovation, in that the funder or the operating partners are best equipped, experienced and prepared to integrate new ideas or technologies.  We then work with the organization to develop the capacity of the funder, the staff, the partners and their network to leverage the innovation.   We contextual innovation process methodologies like proof of concept for what is appropriate to the funder or implementing agency. 

Entrepreneurship

​Equal Innovation has unique experience as a strategic consulting and advisory firm to assist large organizations to launch entrepreneurial ideas, and for foundations and governments to develop policy that drives economic development through entrepreneurship.  The Equal Innovation methodology involves a combination of Lean Startup with proof of concept and intensive collaboration between regional institutions or organizational departments.  This tends to improve the chances of entrepreneurs, or intrapreneurs, to gain traction for their ideas, raise capital and recruit top talent.

Most recently, Equal Innovation created Startup Kuwait, to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Middle East and transition the region from energy to local small business and entrepreneurship.  The program, which in its first year included over 600 college students, the eight universities in Kuwait and chapters in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, is on path to become the model that is replicated throughout the region

Commercialization & Scale-up

Equal Innovation is building a global network of innovators, proof of concept centers, accelerators and research technology transfer offices to be able to match innovations and funders.  We hope to connect the right innovation to the right situation anywhere in the world with data, sector-specific research and analysis, and a broad network of practitioners.   Today, Equal Innovation is building a network of 100 global universities, accelerators and research labs that are commercializing technology for sustainability, education or the base of the pyramid

Commercialization & Scale-Up

Equal Innovation is building a global network of innovators, proof of concept centers, accelerators and research technology transfer offices to be able to match innovations and funders.  We hope to connect the right innovation to the right situation anywhere in the world with data, sector-specific research and analysis, and a broad network of practitioners.   Today, Equal Innovation is building a network of 100 global universities, accelerators and research labs that are commercializing technology for sustainability, education or the base of the pyramid

Nish Acharya of Equal Innovation’s co-chaired the review committee for the National Institute of Health: National Centers for Accelerated Innovation, one of the US governments most ambitious effort to commercialize research funded by the federal government.  The project included an evaluation and review of three national centers: the Boston Biomedical Innovation Consortium, which includes Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital; the Cleveland Clinic, and the University of California System, which included biomedical centers at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.