About the Center

The Blum Center for Developing Economies is UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary hub for students, researchers, and scholars focusing on global poverty and inequality.

The Center enables interdisciplinary problem-solving in key areas such as energy, health, education, financial services, food, water, and sanitation — operating on the notion that a world-class public university must be a force for tackling society’s most urgent and important problems. Since its founding in 2006, the Blum Center’s mission has been to train people, source and support innovations, and develop scalable solutions.

The Blum Center has five initiatives:

Big Ideas@Berkeley
BigIdeas@Berkeley: BigIdeas@Berkeley is one of the oldest and most international university-based student idea contests. In a rigorous, yearlong process, the contest provides funding, support, and mentoring to students seeking to have real-world impact in the areas of clean energy, global health, and food security, among other global challenges. Since 2005, Big Ideas has attracted over 5,000 student participants from more than 18 universities, and has launched dozens of companies, nonprofits, and social enterprises. Winning Big Ideas teams have gone on to secure more than $150 million in additional funding to support a wide variety of ventures with impact all over the world.
Social Innovator OnRamp Resources
Social Innovator OnRamp Resources: The Social Innovator OnRamp helps students grow their ideas for social impact while they are still in school. The OnRamp course and its online resource guide are designed to bridge the gap between early stage ideation (from design classes, research, or competitions like Big Ideas) and off-campus implementation. The program supports graduate and undergraduate students from across campus with best practices, tools, and networks as they plan, grow, and evaluate their own social change projects and social startups.
Global Poverty & Practice Minor
Global Poverty & Practice Minor: Global Poverty & Practice (GPP) is one of the most popular academic minors at UC Berkeley. GPP trains undergraduates to critically analyze the history and sources of poverty and inequality, and prepares them to engage with poverty alleviation in communities all over the world. To date, more than 13,500 UC Berkeley students have taken GPP classes and have worked across the United States and in over 50 countries, graduating to join a new generation of innovators, social entrepreneurs, activists, and scholars.
Development Impact Lab
Development Impact Lab: Founded in 2012 with a $20 million investment from USAID, the Blum Center’s Development Impact Lab (DIL) is a global consortium of researchers, nongovernmental organizations, and industry partners committed to advancing international development through science and technology. Today, more than 90 DIL innovations are being tested and scaled in 30 countries with partners in the private and nonprofit sectors.
Development Engineering
Development Engineering: Development Engineering is an interdisciplinary training program launched in 2014 for UC Berkeley graduate students who aim to use technology to address the needs of people living in poverty. Development Engineering coursework prepares students in engineering, business, and the social sciences to create, pilot, and evaluate technological interventions and solutions for low-resource settings. The program is the first of its kind in the country.


Updated August 2015