USAID Launches Technology Competition to Combat Wildlife Crime

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The FINANCIAL — On April 22, on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge to combat illegal wildlife trade.

USAID invites organizations and individuals to submit innovative science and technology solutions to help combat the illegal trade in marine and terrestrial wildlife. Successful applicants could win up to $500,000 as well as technical assistance and networking opportunities to scale their solutions, according to USAID.

The Challenge, an initiative of USAID in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and TRAFFIC, represents one component of USAID’s efforts to support the President’s Implementation Plan for the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, unveiled in 2014. 

“Today, our Agency is harnessing innovation, data, and public-private partnerships to both protect and manage the environment that supports us,” said Acting USAID Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt. “The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge represents a groundbreaking effort to not only root out poaching and trafficking, but to strengthen the economic and national security of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

To match the growing scale, pace, and sophistication of wildlife trafficking, the competition will:

Include a three-phase open competition to identify the most promising and innovative ideas
Engage a talented community of solvers from all corners of the globe and all areas of expertise
Provide technical expertise and networking support to help successful applicants develop their solutions
Award Grand Prizes of up to $500,000 to help applicants scale their solution

The Challenge is looking for fresh perspectives from innovators around the world to stem the slaughter of wildlife. The application window opens today, and interested organizations or individuals will have ten weeks to complete a short Concept Note describing themselves, their solution, and how it might scale to achieve greater impact.

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Applications must address at least one of four Challenge issues for which innovative science and technology solutions could offer immediate impact:

Detecting transit routes
Strengthening forensic evidence
Reducing consumer demand
Tackling corruption

Judges will evaluate applications based on impact and scalability and invite those with the most promising Concept Notes to move forward in the competition.


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