Australia Awards South and West Asia conducts one Regional Alumni Workshop each year. Each workshop is intended to be uniquely conceived to focus either on a particular sector or on participants from a particular interest group. This will be the third such workshop that the Program has organised, after the Women in Leadership Workshop in Colombo in November 2015, and the Inclusive Education Workshop in Kathmandu in November 2016.
Regional Alumni Workshops present an opportunity for Australia Awards alumni in the South and West Asia region to present their work, share their experiences with peers formally and informally, and build and strengthen relevant professional networks across the region. This extends the alumni experience beyond the national level and brings an enhanced professional development aspect to alumni engagement.
Workshop Topic: Alumni Innovation Challenge
“Innovation can improve the lives of poor people. The poor in developing countries face substantial challenges in accessing basic services, finding jobs and lifting themselves out of poverty. Innovative development solutions, such as oral rehydration therapy, childhood vaccines, conditional cash transfers and higher-yielding and disease-resistant crops, have saved and improved millions of lives.”
– Australian Aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability
The Australian Government has allocated AUD 140 million over four years to encourage innovative development solutions. This innovation funding is used to identify, evaluate and help scale up innovations with high potential to generate significant development results. In March 2015 the Australian Government established the InnovationXchange to revolutionise the delivery and effectiveness of Australia’s aid program, and mainstream innovation throughout DFAT.
In addition to establishing a separate innovation hub within DFAT, Australia has also become a partner in the Global Innovation Fund (GIF) (along with the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden), which invests in social innovations that aim to improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world.
The GIF definition of ‘innovation’ broadly includes new business models, policy practices, technologies, behavioural insights, or ways of delivering products and services that benefit the poor in developing countries – in short any solution that has potential to address an important development problem more effectively than existing approaches.
In November 2016, the Government launched the Global Innovation Strategy, a whole-of-government approach to advance Australia through international collaboration. The Strategy supports economic and science diplomacy efforts and, amongst other benefits, will leverage Australia’s global alumni to foster new ideas to respond to emerging global opportunities and challenges.
The Australia Awards South and West Asia Alumni Innovation Challenge will support the Australian Government’s objectives in the field of development innovation; Australia Awards program outcomes; the Global Innovation Strategy; and the Global Alumni Engagement Strategy, by connecting, mobilising and celebrating development innovators amongst the Australia Awards alumni in the region.
Through this activity, Australia Awards alumni from each country program in the region will be invited to submit proposals to receive a small grant with which to pilot a development innovation in any DFAT priority area. Applications can be from individuals or groups of Australia Awards alumni. Applications from groups comprising alumni from different South and West Asian countries will be considered favourably. Each grant will be worth a maximum of AUD 3,000. The best five proposals from each country will each receive a grant – making a potential total of 35 innovations being piloted. The proposals will be assessed based on feasibility (technical and political); relevance to the country; potential impact on community; and how the project uses the skills/networks that the alumnus developed during their time and study in Australia.
Detailed guidelines for application and Small Grants can be found here.
The Regional Alumni Workshop 2017 is designed to:
i) Enable the selected Australia Awards alumni to pilot their innovations by providing them financial, networking, and mentoring support;
ii) Foster linkages between development innovators amongst the Australia Awards alumni in the South and West Asia region;
iii) Provide a professional development opportunity for grantees to present their development innovations, and be exposed to other development innovations from the region;
iv) Provide an opportunity for DFAT Posts to examine and select development innovations for further funding and mentoring from the Australia Development Accelerator, managed by InnovationXchange for DFAT Posts;
v) Form a Community of Practice for development innovators from South and West Asia.
Each selected grantee will be linked with a mentor who will advise and support the grantee to pilot their development innovation. The mentors will be selected from the Australia Awards global alumni, DFAT’s InnovationXchange networks, the Ashoka Bangladesh Fellows, and BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab professional network.
Every two months, each grantee will be required to post a brief, 30-second video update on their pilot initiative on the Global Alumni Website and other Australia Awards and DFAT social media.
In October 2017, the grantees will mobilise at the BRAC Social Innovation Lab in Dhaka for a two-day internal Design Sprint. During this Sprint, experts from Bangladesh and Australia will sit with each grantee to examine the pilot innovations and provide advice on how the innovation can be refined and scaled up. The Program will explore the possibility of engaging managers from the ‘Landing Pads’ set up under the Global Innovation Strategy to provide advice to grantees to accelerate the design and development of their innovations.
The third and fourth days of the workshop will be a conference where the grantees will showcase their innovations in a TedX-style presentation to heads of Australian missions in the South and West Asia region who would like to attend; the DFAT InnovationXchange; each other; and sectoral experts from Bangladesh and BRAC. DFAT country programs may also choose to fund the participation of representatives from private sector companies who have potential and an interest to adopt and/or scale up an innovation.
An exhibition showcasing the outcomes of the innovations will be organised at the Australian High Commissioner’s Residence, or the BRAC Centre Lobby. The High Commissioner could invite Australian Ambassadors and High Commissioners in South and West Asia to attend, and other Heads of Missions, Ministries, UN Agencies, alumni, and other key stakeholders in Bangladesh to attend the opening of the exhibit.
The fifth and final day of the workshop will be an Innovation Tour, where participants will be divided into groups and go on field trips to experience first-hand DFAT- and/or Australia alumni-supported development innovations in Bangladesh.
Alumni may apply for a small grant either as individuals, or as groups consisting of two to five alumni. Applications from groups comprising alumni from different countries in the region will be viewed favourably. To be eligible for a small grant and to participate in the Regional Alumni Workshop, alumni must meet the following criteria:
Be an Australia Awards alumnus, from either:
Small Grants Scheme:
Grants can be used for the following:
Grants will not support:
Small grants schemes as an Australia Awards alumni engagement activity
Small grants schemes have been run by several Australia Awards programs globally, including Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Africa.
Some examples of successful innovations piloted through Australia Awards small grants schemes include:
Applications received after this date will not be accepted. Applications should be typewritten on A4-sized paper and be no more than eight pages long (excluding annexes). When presenting the Budget, please provide a breakdown of budget items where applicable. Applicants – either individuals or groups – can only submit one proposal for this initiative.
Approval Process and Selection Criteria:
The Australia Awards South and West Asia Regional Hub will oversee the shortlisting of eligible proposals and the Australian High Commission or Embassy in each program country will select the successful proposals. Decisions on applications will be announced by mid-May.
Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:
Australia Awards will cover all expenses related to travel such as return economy-class airfares, local transport, accommodation, airport transfers, visa fees, travel insurance, per diem and other workshop related expenses of the selected participants for travel to Bangladesh.