COMPANY FOUNDED BY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY GRADUATE RECEIVES $1.2 MILLION INNOVATION AWARD FROM USAID
For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Office of Press Relations
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The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded $1.2 million to Standard Microgrid, a company founded by University of California, Berkeley graduate Brian Somers to establish the first microgrid franchise in Africa.
Standard Microgrid will expand its current business model to develop a franchise model that enables local engineering and construction companies in Zambia, where 70 percent of the population lacks electricity access, to assemble and operate their own microgrids as franchisees. Standard Microgrid simplifies and automates the complex operations of an energy grid to enable any community member to operate the grid, collect payments, and control demand.
The innovative business model will boost the affordability of high-quality and reliable energy services, with initial sign-up costs starting at $6 and a flexible pricing model to suit any household budget. Each microgrid can be deployed in three days and can power up to 150 connections, such as a household, school, dormitory, hospital, police station, or a wildlife campsite.
The award is among 13 new grants that total over $15.5 million to test and scale promising solutions to global development challenges. Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that selects breakthrough solutions that demonstrate rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and viable pathways to scale and sustainability.
Co-founded in 2010 by the 2019 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Dr. Michael Kremer, DIV supports evidence-driven solutions that transform millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost. Since 2010, DIV has invested in over 200 innovations that have improved millions of lives across 46 countries.
Innovators can apply to receive tiered grant funding up to $5 million for a product, technology, service, or application of a business or delivery model. In addition to funding, DIV offers separate evidence grants, which provide up to $1.5 million for research and evaluations that generate rigorous evidence of a solution's impact, cost-effectiveness, and potential to scale. USAID accepts applications on a rolling basis. For more information, visit www.usaid.gov/div.