Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) is a multidisciplinary research and development effort, created by USAID, and led by seven world-class universities working directly to evaluate and strengthen real-world innovations in development. This network is creating a vibrant framework of cooperation between development professionals and academia by harnessing the ingenuity and passion of scientists, students, faculty, and entrepreneurs to solve some of the world’s most pressing development challenges. The GCFSI is one of eight development labs funded by US Global Development Lab at USAID.


The GCFSI works on improving food systems in a world facing shrinking natural resources, changing climate and rapidly increasing demand, all in a context of transformative technological changes. The goal is to find creative ways to overcome the problems of shrinking farm land in developing countries, help under-resourced farmers deal with less rainfall due to climate change and develop plans to improve systems dealing with food production, storage, processing, packaging, transportation and distribution strained by larger urban population. GCFSI is developing and testing new approaches emerging from its interdisciplinary research ranging from production innovation through post-harvest processing to distribution and market evolution in a holistic approach. This effort is based on active contributions from a diverse mix of agricultural scientists, economists, engineers, geographers, supply chain experts, urban planners and others. Innovative ideas are supported directly by GCFSI as well as via $8 million in innovation grants. The center’s work is organized around three Megatrends:


Megatrend 1 - Population Growth, Climate Change and Pressure on the Land tasks researchers to develop innovations that increase food availability and food system resilience in Africa and Asia in the face of global climate change.

Megatrend 2 - Rapid Urbanization and Transformation of Food Systems focuses on understanding the transformations currently underway in developing country food systems and engaging farmers, business, communities and governments in the design of policies, programs, and targeted interventions to assure access to plentiful, safe, nutritious, and affordable food
for all citizens.

Megatrend 3 - Evolution in Skills Required by Food Systems looks at upgrading skills in the food system in order to adapt the food system workforce to global trends.