Private investment in basic science

Investigating ways to cure disease, reduce mortality rates and improve life expectancy The challenge Research and development (R&D) expenditure in the pharmaceutical industry is extremely high. However, developing countries face severe resource constraints and weak institutions, and their urgent need for medicines can only be met by profit-driven, big pharmaceutical firms. Why do (some) firms…

Mobile app intervention to improve child health in underprivileged Indian communities

Helping parents make better child nutrition and immunisation decisions The challenge Undernutrition contributes to more than half of all deaths of children under the age of five and is directly linked with economic development (Unicef, 2018a). Lack of immunisation is also a widespread problem in poor communities. Liquidity constraints can make food products unaffordable, resulting…

Systemic cyber risk

Establishing an interdisciplinary community of practice The Challenge Cyber attacks have the capacity to cause great financial and physical harm to individuals and households, disrupt business operations, and destabilise entire communities. These threats are particularly acute for institutionally-fragile environments with poor penetration of training and education. A first-order concern are large-scale, state-sponsored cyber attacks that…

Workplace tools to reduce the wealth-based attainment gap

Helping workers from poorer backgrounds fulfil their potential The Challenge There is great focus today on providing equal-education opportunities for individuals from poorer backgrounds to help them attain socioeconomic mobility, thereby reducing the attainment gap and inequality. Organisations are the primary source of economic value-generation but, while some studies suggest that large organisations mitigate inequality,…

How the poor use their mobile data: A field experiment in India

Can less flexible data plans make users better off? The challenge Through their increased prevalence, smartphones have become a key social development tool for slum-dwellers. Particularly, they are considered as a ‘force multiplier’ to effectively deliver services and information to isolated markets.Although smartphones carry great potential, accessibility alone may not be enough to make a…

The political economy of climate change negotiations

What factors affect countries’ commitment to mitigating climate change? Climate change agreements are negotiated by countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but countries differ greatly on who should bear the cost of mitigation initiatives: the greater the costs, the stronger the opposition from the country. These differences are particularly marked…

Can user training increase technology adoption and enable women’s empowerment?

A field experiment on solar power adoption in off-grid Uganda Over a billion people live without access to modern electricity today, including 75% of the population of Uganda. Rooftop solar technology is providing a revolutionary alternative to grid-based electricity and has garnered great investor attention in the last few years, with studies showing that clean…