“SEAD harnesses the passion and expertise of our faculty, staff, and students, and builds on Duke’s commitment to global health and social entrepreneurship, long history of interdisciplinary scholarship, track record of building bridges between academics and practitioners, and extensive global partnerships and cross-sector collaboration.” – Matthew T.A. Nash, Duke University

Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) – 2015 Awardee

Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) is an interdisciplinary development lab for scaling innovations in global health. Working in partnership with USAID, SEAD mobilizes a community of faculty, staff, and students from across Duke—in collaboration with practitioners, investors, and policymakers—to identify, assess, build capacity, develop resources, and scale the impact of innovative solutions, technologies, and business models for healthcare delivery and preventive services in developing countries. SEAD:

  • Sparks, selects, and scales novel solutions and technologies to address global health challenges
  • Engages in building an ecosystem of networking support and access to investment capital to help
    entrepreneurs scale their enterprises
  • Assesses the effectiveness of SEAD, the development problems it engages, and the solutions it supports
  • Disseminates practical and academic knowledge and evidence about scaling health innovations in developing

In detail, SEAD provides staggered cohorts of 6-10 global health innovators with three years of training (on site, at Duke, and via webinar), networking, peer learning opportunities, coaching, mentors, online tools and resources, facilitated connections to investors and other funders, access to student interns and research faculty, and other support.

On campus, SEAD serves as an interdisciplinary hub for faculty and students interested in global health, international development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and civic engagement. SEAD acts as a clearinghouse to promote opportunities across these communities, aiming to enrich the student experience, support global health innovations, promote opportunities for research and program evaluation, advance a culture of academic inquiry, and inspire a commitment to changemaking in global health among a new generation of leaders.


In 2014, the 17 SEAD innovators touched the lives of 17,841,628 unique beneficiaries; 8 innovators have been added in 2015. However, more longitudinal evaluation will examine how SEAD influenced the global health entrepreneurs’ ability to design effective business models, develop and implement scaling strategies, and attract sufficient resources.

At Duke, SEAD is increasing the engagement of students and faculty in meaningful opportunities for experimentation, innovation, learning, civic engagement, and knowledge development in the field of global health. To date, more than 600 students have been engaged in various aspects of SEAD. More than 60 students have had internships and fellowships through SEAD from a variety of fields. More than 70 students have participated in introductory workshops on social entrepreneurship, nearly 80 students participated in a case competition aimed at a real-life challenge faced by a SEAD innovator, and 165 students mobilized in just 10 days to develop and present innovative approaches to addressing the Ebola epidemic. Finally, more than 400 students have attended our SEAD annual symposium and speaker events. Survey data show significant student satisfaction with the variety and quality of SEAD student programming.

How can people become involved in or replicate your innovation?

Currently there are a variety of ways in which people can support the SEAD program.

  • Nominate proven, scale-ready innovations in global health for inclusion in the SEAD program. Innovators may nominate their own organizations.
  • Share information with the SEAD program leaders about particular affordable talent or other resources that may be of significant help to SEAD social entrepreneurs
  • Universities in East Africa and India seeking to advance the study and practice of global health innovation are encouraged to contact SEAD program leaders to inquire into potential opportunities for collaboration.

For funders and investors seeking to provide growth capital to health enterprises with live-saving innovations:

  • Contact the SEAD team to determine whether any of our innovators, whether nonprofit or for-profit, may be a good fit for your philanthropic or investment objectives.

All interested innovators are welcome to call upon the Duke staff including Matt Nash for advising to discuss the details in regards to replicating this unique interdisciplinary and multi-modal model of accelerating social entrepreneurship through engagement of practitioners, faculty, and students.

Contact information 

Matthew T.A. Nash, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), mnash@duke.edu

Cordes Innovation Awards

In partnership with Cordes Foundation, Ashoka U seeks to recognize globally relevant teaching, learning, and partnership practices that may be adapted and replicated across the field.