Innovative Solutions | World Bank Institute (WBI)

The World Bank Institute (WBI) is a global connector of knowledge, learning and innovation for poverty reduction. We connect practitioners and institutions to help them find suitable solutions to their development challenges. With a focus on the "how" of reform, we link knowledge from around the world and scale up innovations. Read More »

Innovative Solutions

Our Vision
There is growing recognition that governments acting alone cannot provide public services to all of their citizens. They need partners from civil society, commercial enterprises, and private non-commercial actors including social entrepreneurs to complement, support, and create new business models for the delivery of public goods and services. With no one model or one entity being able to meet the growing demands of poor and under-served populations throughout the developing world, our vision is to be a catalyst of innovation for development—to identify and support new ways of “doing different things” and “doing things differently.”

Our Approach
WBI’s role is to be a catalyst for development. By leveraging the global reach of new and innovative technologies, we are developing tools, methods, and online platforms to facilitate an open and collaborative development process between governments, citizens, and other stakeholders.

Our Activities
Our work is defined by three key areas: open data and open government, competitions, and scaling social enterprises.  
Open Data and Open Government: Data is fuel and good data is rocket fuel. By making information and better data available on indicators like infant mortality, GDP growth rates, and CO2 emissions, we motivate others to take charge of their own development outcomes and reach people we cannot reach ourselves.

  • Through an effort across the World Bank, we adopted a new policy resulting in more than 7,000 development indicators becoming available in our data catalogue at no cost. Our information and data are not just public but searchable, downloadable in machine-readable formats (including through APIs), and re-usable. 
  • Born out of the World Bank's new Access to Information policy and building on the success of the Open Data initiative, Mapping for Results was launched in October 2010 by the World Bank Institute (WBI) and AidData with the goal of geo-referencing and visualizing the geographic location of World Bank-financed projects and international aid programs at the sub-national level. To date, the team has analyzed more than 2500 World Bank projects and geo-coded more than 20,000 locations spanning 140 countries.
  • Recognizing the significant impact that the combination of innovative technologies, open data and an empowered civil society can have on improving development effectiveness, WBI and partners launched the Open Aid Partnership, which aims to: enhance aid transparency by making aid information about development partner's activities accessible at the local level; foster accountability by empowering citizens and other stakeholders to provide direct feedback on project results; improve aid coordination by developing an Open Aid Map that visualizes the geographic location of donor-financed projects at the sub-national level.
  • In addition, the recent launch of the Open Development Technology Alliance (also known as the ICT Knowledge Platform) aims to enhance accountability and improve the delivery and quality of public services through technology-enabled citizen engagement—for e.g. using mobile phones, interactive-mapping and social media.  The platform aims to give voice to citizens, and improve accountability feedback loops around public services by synthesizing knowledge products, brokering expert connections and facilitating the co-creation and spread of ICT tools. The platform is organized around three core areas: knowledge, people and tools.

Competitions: Two heads are better than one, and a thousand heads are better than two. By tapping into the collective insight and entrepreneurial energy of citizens and non-traditional actors, and by using incentives such as cash prizes, talented minds come to the fore and generate breakthrough ideas to advance development.

  • Our Global Apps for Development Competition brought together the best ideas from both the software developer and the development practitioner communities to create innovative apps using World Bank data, spurring the creation of powerful new development tools.
  • Building upon Apps4Dev, a new platform has been customized to enable the World Bank to launch an array of competitions and challenges. Whether mobilizing a community to solve a narrowly defined problem, or inviting citizens and experts to propose solutions to a pressing issue, the platform supports a wide variety of challenges.
  • Administered an Innovation Fund, which allocated US$ 1.2 million to support World Bank staff with innovative ideas to advance development outcomes.

Scaling Social Enterprises: Social entrepreneurship is the combination of social activism, public service delivery, and private sector efficiency. 

  • For more than ten years, the Development Marketplace (DM) has managed a competitive grants program that assists social enterprises to expand the supply of public goods and services to populations at the bottom of a developing country's income distribution. The DM  targets 'high social impact' entrepreneurs that need growth finance to expand, scale or replicate their operations in a financially sustainable manner. The DM's objective is to position social entrepreneurs as the third arm of development along with public and commercial private sectors.

WBI Brochure: Innovative solutions (PDF 201 KB)
Brochure Insert: Open government and open aid (PDF 201 KB)
Brochure Insert: Promoting citizen feedback through information technologies (PDF 192 KB)