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  • LocationBangladesh
  • SectorAquaculture
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageTest & Transition

A $300,000 grant to Nesta to carry out research on market failures in aquaculture in Bangladesh and India, and design an incentive prize to accelerate innovation in aquaculture with a view to improving social and economic outcomes for the poor.


The development problem.

About 795 million children and adults are undernourished globally, and the highest number of undernourished people – 281 million (15.7% of total) - live in South Asia. Approximately 194.6 million people are undernourished in India which accounts for the highest number of people suffering from hunger in any single country. Prevalence of undernourishment is 15% of the population in India, and 16% in Bangladesh.

Research indicates that undernutrition has long-term negative effects, particularly on pregnant women and children. The 2014 Rapid Survey on Children in India found 29.4 per cent of children (aged less than three years) to be underweight (low in weight for their age), while 15 per cent were wasted (low weight for their height) and 38.7 per cent were stunted (low in height for age). At the same time, investing in improved nutrition can be highly cost-effective – the estimated benefits for every dollar spent on child nutrition can lead to a saving of up to $134 in India, and $62 in Bangladesh.

The innovation.

There is extensive economics literature that indicates that prizes can be an effective tool for spurring innovation and investment, particularly in instances where market failures make private returns to investment smaller than social returns. At the same time, aquaculture has grown rapidly in the past decades and can play a major role in satisfying the nutritional needs of the growing middle income group, while also meeting the food security needs of the poorest. Nesta, in collaboration with University of Sterling and Forum for the Future, plans to design a Challenge Prize in Aquaculture for Global Development, which would address market failures and accelerate innovation in aquaculture in India and Bangladesh.

GIF’s investment.

GIF investment will cover the design phase for a Challenge Prize in Aquaculture for International Development, which will result in a launch-ready incentive prize. This includes research on market failures, stakeholder mapping and analysis, prize prototyping, and final prize design.

Investment objective(s).

Design a launch-ready Challenge Prize in Aquaculture for Global Development which would address market failures in aquaculture in India and Bangladesh.

Why we invested

The proposal addresses an important development challenge for a large number of GIF’s target population.

A prize could potentially be an effective way of spurring technological development and adoption for sustainable aquaculture, with large social returns.

Highly capable team, with a proven track record in designing and running challenge prizes, aquaculture research, and knowledge of South Asia.

Opportunity for GIF to learn about prizes as a way of paying for results.

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