The Xcelerator training program is part of the VentureWell pipeline that cultivates creators and entrepreneurs who can turn ideas into successful commercial products. The program provides training and coaching specifically for USAID, Grand Challenges for Exploration, and Powering Agriculture grantees working in global health and development to increase the likelihood that their innovations will succeed. The training prepares innovators to address the complexities of implementing new technologies in the developing world, helping speed up the process by which their ideas are turned into products that can have a real impact and potentially save lives.
The eight-month program provides necessary knowledge and skills, networking/partnership opportunities and coaching/mentoring to help innovators introduce products and services to target markets.
Phase I: Pre-workshop (6 weeks)
The pre-workshop activities include an online team self-assessment and virtual meetings intended to orient innovators to the Xcelerator program, the global health market value chain, and the mentoring process.
Phase II: In-person workshop (4 days)
The interactive 4-day workshop focuses on building knowledge and skills critical to understanding global health markets and developing innovations to fit market needs, as well as provides practical tools to develop strategy for action. Key areas include value propositions, value chain mapping, building partnerships, and marketing and communication. A key activity during the workshop is strategy mapping across the value chain to help visualize the requirements to bring innovations to market.
Phase III: Post-workshop (6 months)
The post-workshop support is customized based on team strategy maps, and consists of executing on the coaching and advising plan that teams create during the in-person workshop. Through regular phone calls with VentureWell and consultation with mentors and peers, including Xcelerator alumni and technical experts, innovators have access to more in-depth knowledge about technology and market validation, business and team management, and innovation marketing and communication.
The Xcelerator training program is currently available only to Saving Lives at Birth, Grand Challenges Explorations, and Powering Agriculture teams. Since January 2013, 175 teams have participated in the Xcelerator program.
Supporting partners include USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Lemelson Foundation.
Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development
Saving Lives at Birth grantees are focused on developing new technologies and approaches to helping pregnant women and newborns in the high-risk period leading up to and immediately following birth, which is the riskiest time for mothers and infants in the world’s poorest places. Participating Xcelerator teams are based at universities, research institutions, for-profits and non-profits the world over.
Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In 2014 and 2015 VentureWell conducted five pilot Xcelerator workshops for the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) program, an initiative of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GCE engages scientists worldwide to expand the pipeline of innovative ideas to meet global health challenges.
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development
In 2015 VentureWell began supporting Powering Agriculture grantees, who are focused on developing sustainable clean energy technologies and approaches to increase agricultural productivity in low-income countries. These clean energy innovations will allow farmers to produce more food at lower cost and in less time.