Fostering innovation in the humanitarian sector

Start Labs is a collectively-owned incubator that aims to foster innovation in the humanitarian sector. It supports the development and piloting of new solutions to enable earlier, faster and more effective response to humanitarian crises.


Catalysing change for greater impact

When crisis strikes, solutions are all too often late, insufficient, poor quality or absent. We want that to change. We want to see innovation, both radical and incremental, because we want to strengthen the aid system, making it proactive and flexible in its approach and therefore more effective and efficient.


A reactive business model

Lack of resources to develop and share ideas

Funding is tightly controlled to avoid perceived risks


New financial mechanisms

will create a proactive model for NGOs

Collective access to partners

and funding to test new ideas

The time and space to learn

will help to change policies


Developing and testing new humanitarian solutions

We trial new ways of working before introducing them to the field. Innovations we invest in can be taken to scale by our members and their local partners. Support from our members means we have a higher tolerance for risk and can explore opportunities that individual NGOs would not be able to approach by themselves. Below we explain more about the innovations we have launched and ones in development.

Latest news


How to assess the impact of a Drought Risk Financing facility: A guide

This guide outlines some of the conceptual questions, and practical tools, that can be used to evaluate drought risk financing (DRF) initiatives. It offers a framework for thinking about the impact of drought risk financing, along with risk financing more broadly and the wider general issue of the added value of earlier humanitarian response.



Drought Financing Facility summary

The purpose of this report is to give an overview of the way the Drought Financing Facility is designed, including two proposed pilots in Zimbabwe and Pakistan.


News Article

Launch of 'innovation labs' to prepare for disasters in four countries

Start Network has launched four new “innovation labs” in Bangladesh, Jordan, Kenya and the Philippines, aimed at finding fresh ways to help local communities prepare for disasters. The move is the first of it's kind initiated by an NGO.


Blog Post

Reuters article on the Drought Financing Facility:

A Reuters article explores the Start Network's Drought Financing Facility initiative in Pakistan and how it could result in more rapid, effective and large-scale response to protect drought-hit communities.


OUR PARTNERS and funders

Helping us catalyse change in the sector

Helping us scope, develop and pilot innovations.

Further Information

Find out more about Start Labs