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Private Sector Development Policy Innovation Lab



October 29: call launched

December 5: 2-page notes due


January 15: notification of first-stage winners

March 27: second-stage longer notes due.

May 28: winners of the innovation competition will present their ideas to World Bank operational staff working on projects that involve Small and Medium Enterprises

Frequently asked questions

How does this differ from existing research funding sources?
Almost all existing research funds are not intended for the design and implementation of a project, but instead for research, impact evaluation, or surveys built around an existing policy. The closest analog is the first stage USAID Development Innovation Ventures, which has now become the Global Innovation Fund. However, these funds are based on the premise that you already have a partner organization and country in place, and are more focused on improving social outcomes than on growing SMEs.

What will happen to my research idea if I put it forward and it gets selected? Will I have a chance to be involved going forward?
The expectation is that the originators of these ideas will be involved in refining these ideas for operational implementation. This will include a chance to present the ideas in the dissemination event. Ultimately involvement will depend on both researcher and policy interest. Since you are likely to have thought more about your idea than anyone else, it seems natural that you will be involved in taking it forward, but perhaps you will have no interest in working in the country that wants to implement it, or the timeline doesn’t work out, etc. The chances of you being involved are zero if your idea just sits in your file drawer – our expectation is that if you already have a great idea and willing partner, you will be testing your idea or seeking funding to do so – we are seeking to do something different here and get your more innovative ideas out to the world to see if they can have a chance of happening.

Should I be thinking only of ideas that can be evaluated via a randomized experiment?
No. We want to have evaluation of these policies to learn from them, but the goal here is to use research to inform policy actions, not to use research to evaluate policy actions.

Can I submit more than one concept note?
Yes, you can submit as many as you have good ideas

Can I submit an idea jointly with someone else

Can I be paired with a researcher to put together the initial concept note?
We can try, contact David McKenzie to try to arrange a match.

Who should I ask if I have further questions about this process?
You can contact David McKenzie, Lead Economist, Finance and Private Sector Development Unit, World Bank (

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