Henry Kohn is a correspondent at Today News Africa based in Washington, DC. Henry writes on foreign policy, politics, and the State Department. He has worked in Europe and West Africa and has a dual Bachelor’s degree in French and Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University
The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Small Business Administration (SBA) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will increase MCC partner countries’ access to emerging technologies, as the U.S. seeks to give American small businesses greater access to international markets and boost their innovative capacity.
“Our collaboration with the Small Business Administration will allow MCC partner countries to more easily access proven, cutting edge technologies to solve some of their most pressing development challenges,” Fatema Z. Sumar, MCC Vice President of the Department of Compact Operations said.
According to the MCC’s statement, “this partnership will identify, pilot, and scale innovative technologies to address country-specific needs in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture and irrigation, health, and water, and sanitation, and hygiene.”
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SBA Director of Innovation John Williams stressed the dual purpose of the partnership: to better enable countries to address development challenges, in particular “energy, climate and the environment” while “supporting American small businesses”.
The MCC, through its Innovation and Technology Program (ITP), works with other U.S. agencies that participate in two SBA programs designed to increase American small business involvement in federal R&D “with the potential for commercialization”.
The two SBA programs are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
The agreement between the MCC and the SBA comes after the two agencies hosted a virtual round table focused on technologies in water, agriculture, and irrigation sectors in November 2020, the MCC noted.
A second round table is expected to convene “program managers in both the energy and climate resiliency sectors to discuss innovations,” which the MCC said “may align and create opportunities in emerging MCC partner countries.”