Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development

Published on 1 November 2016

As new technologies and digital business models reshape economies and disrupt incumbencies, interest has surged in the potential of novel frontier technologies to also contribute to positive changes in international development and humanitarian contexts. Widespread adoption of new technologies is acknowledged as centrally important to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

But while frontier technologies can rapidly address large-scale economic, social or political challenges, they can also involve the displacement of existing technologies and carry considerable uncertainty and risk. Although there have been significant wins bringing the benefits of new technologies to poor consumers through examples such as mobile money or off-grid solar energy, there are many other areas where the applications may not yet have been developed into viable market solutions, or where opportunities have not yet been taken up in development practice.

Research reports to download

Against this background, the Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned the Digital and Technology Research Group at the Institute of Development Studies to undertake a review of frontier technologies in five areas as shown below (all links are downloadable PDFs):


Image of Ben Ramalingam
Ben Ramalingam

Research Fellow

Image of Pedro Prieto Martín
Pedro Prieto Martín

Postdoctoral Research Officer

Image of Becky Faith
Becky Faith

Research Fellow

Image of Kevin Hernandez
Kevin Hernandez

Research Officer

Publication details

Ramalingam, B., Hernandez, K., Prieto Martin, P. and Faith, B.


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