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Support models for local humanitarian innovation

Date added

30 July 2019


Humanitarian innovation has rapidly gained a central role within humanitarian policy and practice as a way of addressing intractable challenges. An increasing number of humanitarian organisations have established innovation initiatives (including labs, challenge funds and scholarships), set up separate innovation departments and hired innovation staff.

Support Models for Local Humanitarian Innovation

For the humanitarian sector as a whole, an increasing focus on local participation and innovation simultaneously has allowed a more local approach to innovation work to evolve. Local innovation initiatives now form a small section of overall humanitarian innovation. However, while recognising the great potential that local participation holds for humanitarian innovation, many organisations seem unsure how to best approach it. This research paper aims to explore what has been learned in recent years about support for local innovation at DEPP Labs and other humanitarian sector initiatives. The paper explores the models of support that work best for local innovations, and why.

This paper aims to address the following questions:

  • What approaches and methods can be used to help local innovators in resource-constrained environments to develop viable and sustainable innovations for disaster resilience?
  • What are the constraints, strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and methods?
  • What evidence is there about the outcomes of different processes in low-resource or humanitarian environments (for example, engagement with local innovators, successful pilots, successful scaleups)?
  • How has the DEPP Labs programme mitigated the weaknesses of the lab models and what has it learned?

Support Models for Local Humanitarian Innovation