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Duke Receives Award for Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator

The award will launch a health development lab that identifies and supports the growth of solutions to global health challenges in low- and middle-income countries

Part of the Student Entrepreneurs Series

Duke University will be able to draw on its expertise in social entrepreneurship and innovation to tackle global health challenges, thanks to a $10 million award from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that was announced Thursday in Washington.

As one of the founding partners of the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) -- a new USAID initiative intended to leverage the power of universities to create breakthrough development solutions -- Duke will launch the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD). SEAD is a global health development lab that identifies and supports the growth of solutions to global health challenges in low- and middle-income countries. 

"We are thrilled that Duke's global health and entrepreneurship initiatives will be founding elements of USAID's new partnership with universities," said Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead. "Our faculty look forward to contributing their research and expertise toward new and effective solutions to global health problems."

SEAD is a joint initiative among the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD) at Duke Medicine, and the Duke Global Health Institute, being undertaken in collaboration with the Developing World Healthcare Technology (DHT-Lab) at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. In addition, faculty from the Duke Center for Science Education, Sanford School of Public Policy, the Department of Economics and elsewhere across Duke will serve as advisors for the initiative.

SEAD will leverage CASE's academic and technical expertise in social impact with IPIHD's global network of healthcare innovations to enhance knowledge development in global health.

"SEAD builds on Duke's commitment to global health, innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the translation of evidence into action," said Michael Merson, M.D., director of the Duke Global Health Institute and the university's vice president and vice provost of global strategy and programs.

Because many early stage social enterprises lack the funds they need to sustain and grow their operations, SEAD also aims to increase participating social entrepreneurs' ability to attract capital, cultivate an active investor community, and provide opportunities for the enterprises to engage with investors seeking both a financial and social return on their investment. This effort will be led by the CASE Impact Investing Initiative (CASE i3) in collaboration with Durham-based Investors' Circle, the world's oldest, largest and most successful early-stage impact investing network.

"SEAD epitomizes our mission at CASE to prepare current and emerging leaders, and the organizations that support them, to achieve real and lasting social change," said Matt Nash, Executive Director at CASE. "With our partners across Duke, we aim to provide social entrepreneurs in global health with the knowledge, systems, networks and tools needed to succeed."

SEAD will complement this work with research, evaluation, and a variety of opportunities for faculty and students from across the university.

"SEAD will become a virtual hub for faculty and students interested in global health, international development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and civic engagement," explained Nash. "We seek to enrich the student experience, foster and support global health innovations on campus, and inspire a commitment to change-making in global health among a new generation of students."

An important part of SEAD is the involvement with IPIHD, a program of Duke Medicine and the World Economic Forum.

"IPIHD was created specifically to identify, learn from and support global health innovators around the world," said Victor J. Dzau, M.D., Chancellor for Health Affairs of Duke University, chief executive officer of the Duke University Health System and founder and chair of the IPIHD board of overseers. "One of the key goals of IPIHD is to assist the entrepreneurs and innovators to attract capital and engage with potential investors.

"I'm delighted that we will be able to accelerate the impact of this work through SEAD and in close partnership with USAID."

"The Higher Education Solutions Network is the latest step in USAID's efforts to harness the best ideas from the academic and scientific community and young people worldwide to foster transformational progress in development," explained USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "Through this network of Development Labs, we will recapture the legacy of science, technology, and innovation as core drivers of development, as well as inspire and support the next generation of development leaders."

USAID selected Duke as a member of the HESN from among nearly 500 submissions. In addition to the seven lead universities, HESN includes 22 funded, and 76 non-funded partners in the U.S. and overseas.

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