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Innovation Villages

Mission Statement

Innovation Villages is a program designed to assess new agricultural technologies in small rural communities while helping poor farmers establish sustainable methods of production. It is largely based on the currently existing Millennium Villages initiative supported by Millennium Promise, the United Nations Development Program, and the Earth Institute at Columbia University (Millennium Villages, 2010); Innovation Villages, however, focuses on implementing agricultural solutions. Cutting-edge technologies will be introduced into various arable regions with limited agriculture, and their success will be evaluated over short-term and long-term periods based on profit margins, payback time, quality of production, and community feedback. Collected data will be presented to external governments and NGOs so that successful small-scale farms can serve as models for communities located in areas with similar characteristics. If feasible, these technologies may eventually be expanded to large-scale implementation. The Innovation Villages project will foster the growth and development of farms and subsequently, villages;  while farmers are lifted out of poverty, more hungry people will be fed. At the same time, better technology will be developed to further improve agricultural production. 
Research and Implementation
Technologies assessed and implemented may cover a broad scope including, but not limited to machinery, irrigation systems, fertilizers, insecticides, and storage facilities. All technologies must be thoroughly researched with documentation of risks, benefits, and detailed cost analysis for presentation to communities, governments and organizations. Potential locations for implementation will be selected on a case-by-case basis; Innovation Villages employees will perform in-depth research of communities in a wide spectrum of climates, geographies, and cultures across the world and match them with emerging technologies to suit their needs and environment.
Once village candidates have been selected and agreed to participate, communities will engage in a one-year period of education and planning, during which an implementation strategy will be formulated between Innovation Villages workers and community members. The first year will be followed by a continuous loop of experimentation, feedback, and improvement, lasting anywhere between three and eight years depending on results. During the trial period, feedback will regularly be transmitted from the community to the manufacturer via Innovation Villages workers, and adjustments to the technology will be made and re-implemented as necessary, until satisfactory results have been achieved or the project has been disbanded due to unforeseen reasons.
-(40%) Manufacturers of technologies will provide support by donating portions of the necessary technologies. As the Innovation Villages project aims to test out new technologies, it is ideal for manufacturers: not only will they receive feedback on their products, but if a product is deemed successful, Innovation Villages will encourage NGOs and other groups to fund such products so that they can be further implemented in developing areas.
-(30%) Local governments will provide a portion of the initial investment to put the technologies in place. A comprehensive list of risks and benefits will be provided to governments willing to work with Innovation Villages. For those governments that are not initially interested in partnering with Innovation Villages, data and analysis from successful communities in the first cycle of Innovation Villages may be provided after the first five years to convince them to participate.
-(30%) Innovation Villages and its partner organizations, including universities, research institutions, private sector businesses, and NGOs will fund the remainder of each project.

-Innovation Villages will have a dedicated staff that works on its function as an organization. In addition, staff members will aid in the dissemination of technologies to villages: conferencing with villagers to determine the best methods of implementation, helping in the process of implementation, and participating in assessment. However, there will also be a major branch of staff derived from the local areas surrounding the villages. Innovation Villages will enter developed areas nearby the villages in which technologies are being implemented and raise awareness about the need for development in rural areas, especially in schools and universities. Once students and citizens are aware of issues and interested in development, Innovation Villages will provide the method by which they can become involved in their own areas. Local staff can participate in most all parts of the projects, especially in collecting feedback and helping the villages to access resources they may need (for repairs, further development, or other issues).

Assessment Strategy

-Profit margins.
We will assess profit margins before and after implementation of the technology to determine whether the technology is helping the community increase its overall income, contributing to the GDP of the nation.
-Payback time.
When comparing two technologies, the one that appears to show greater benefits based on the other factors of our assessment strategy in a shorter period of time will be determined to be the more beneficial one.
-Quality of production.
Consumer satisfaction will be determined based on sale of products created with the new technology, as low-quality products that do not sell will not be beneficial to a community regardless of whether the innovation reduces production time or production cost.
-Community feedback.
We will take periodic feedback assessments to determine what the community believes needs to be improved in the current implementation of the technology, as well as what they may be satisfied with. In addition, staff members who are experienced with the technology will evaluate the performance of the technology in the village and then report their findings to the community, in case the community is satisfied or unsatisfied with something that is actually inherent in the technology (i.e. the technology needs to be changed, not the implementation).
5 years for a short-term technology to be implemented in a community
-1 year for background research on the technology & how the community wants the technology incorporated
-3 years to allow the community to use the technology, give feedback, and improve the technology
-1 year for assessment of the technology

For a long-term technology, or one that experiences difficulties during implementation, allow 10 years (1-2 years of background research, 7-8 years of use/feedback, 1 year of assessment).


Innovation Villages, while an extension of the ideas presented in the Millennium Villages project, focuses more specifically on the aspect of development of potential technologies for developing nations. Innovation Villages will provide opportunities for communities to integrate new technologies into their infrastructure while allowing developers to determine the faults and successes of their products in such regions. As these technologies are developed and refined, villages will simultaneously be improving their infrastructure and providing feedback to improve innovations.

Examples of technologies that will be implemented include everything from large-scale agricultural improvements to specific growth mechanisms. For instance, if a region is lacking in adequate harvesting systems, Innovation Villages will provide mechanisms such as tractors and storage infrastructure such as freezing and packaging systems. If a region is suffering from plant diseases, recovery mechanisms will be administered; if a region simply requires basic education about crop rotation, staff members will be deployed. Although the primary focus will be on technological innovations, Innovation Villages will contribute wherever possible to the development of villages in need.

Works cited: 


Millennium Villages FAQ. (2010, July). Millennium Villages. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from