Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund

We’ll be opening our next round of applications soon.
Please check back with us in July 2017

What is the Mobile for Development (M4D) Utilities Innovation Fund?
The M4D Utilities Innovation Fund aims to test and scale the use of mobile to improve or increase access to energy, water and sanitation services.

The Innovation Fund, supported by the UK Government, was launched in June 2013. In two phases of funding, grants have been competitively awarded to 34 organisations across four continents, amounting to GBP 5.6 million. A catalogue of past and current grantees can be found here.

To date, M4D Utilities estimates the trials have impacted over 2.3 million direct beneficiaries in underserved populations around the world. The grants awarded since 2013 have led to an additional USD 174 million raised by grantees from the private sector, showcasing the proof of concept for mobile-enabled utility services.

The impact of mobile on the utilities sector is explored in this video.

What is the objective of the fund?
The objective of the Innovation Fund is to extract insights from the trial and scaling of these innovative models to inform three key questions for growing the sector:

  • How can mobile support utility services?
  • For a mobile-enabled solution to be adopted at scale, what building blocks are needed?
  • What are the social and commercial impacts of delivering community services to underserved mobile subscribers?

Our past findings on these questions are showcased in our case studies, published for each grantee.

The Innovation Fund is open to:

  • Mobile operators
  • Technology solutions providers
  • Energy, water, or sanitation services providers, including:
    • Decentralised service providers
    • Urban and peri-urban utilities, and
    • NGOs trialling business model approaches

who propose to implement innovative products or services that include the use of one or more Mobile Channels as a significant element of the delivery model.

Please note that strong preference will be given to applicants that are NOT implementing pay-as-you-go energy services in East Africa.

What types of grants are available?
The two types of grants the programme awards are:

Seed Grant To support innovative business models that trial the use of mobile as a significant element of an energy, water or sanitation service to underserved communities Up to GBP 150,000 in funding, with a minimum match equal to one-third of the grant amount View the termsheet for more information
Market Validation Grant To increase or improve access to utility services in underserved communities at scale through partnerships with mobile network operators OR urban or peri-urban utility service providers Up to GBP 300,000 in funding, with a minimum match equal to the grant amount View the termsheet for more information

We held two question and answer webinars about our Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund. You can watch the recordings below:

Watch webinar 1
Watch webinar 2

Application timeframe

Round 1: Now closed Round 2: Opening in July 2017
Concept notes due: 16 April 2017 Concept notes due: TBC August 2017
Grantee announcement: August 2017 Grantee announcement: December 2017

Our blogs and newsletters will have the latest information on when we’re re-opening applications. To ensure you stay up to date, please sign up to be notified about when you can apply and for details on our programme activity.

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Additional information 
Concept note template – Seed grant
Concept note template – Market Validation grant

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