WFP Innovation Accelerator
At a glance
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organisation in the fight against world hunger and reached a total of 97 million people in 2019 – the largest number since 2012 – in 88 countries. The WFP provides assistance in emergencies, strengthens the resilience of communities and improves their long-term nutrition.
Innovation is in the WFP’s DNA. Over US$ 2.1 billion in monetary and voucher transfers were provided in 2019, among other measures. In addition, the WFP Innovation Accelerator was launched in 2015 in order to identify and test new ideas and scale-up promising innovations in the fight against hunger. The focus is on new technologies, such as blockchain, agricultural technology, artificial intelligence, mobile technology, drones as well as new business concepts.
Within a space of five years, the WFP Innovation Accelerator supported more than 300 projects in innovation bootcamps as well as 80 local projects in 45 countries. Fifteen innovations were able to achieve a significant impact. These projects have influenced the lives of millions of people – two million directly by October 2020 alone and many more indirectly – and will continue to do so in order to support the WFP’s field operations.
Innovations: from the idea to the impact
The WFP Innovation Accelerator gives employees, founders, companies and non-governmental organisations access to funds (up to US$ 100,000 in grant financing), active support by joint venture consultants, mentoring as well as connections to the WFP country offices. The activities of the WFP Innovation Accelerator are primarily comprised of the following modules.
- Innovation bootcamps: The WFP innovation bootcamps are one-week intensive workshops in which the project teams use leading innovation methods to scrutinise their innovation idea and help them grow more quickly. The WFP Innovation Accelerator has held 30 bootcamps with more than 310 participating teams to date.
- Sprint programme: The sprint programme is an intensive three- to six-month acceleration programme that provides funds (up to US$ 100,000 in grant financing) and mentoring to help projects and start-ups achieve proof of concept and develop prototypes that are ready for implementation.
- Scale-Up Enablement programme: The Scale-Up Enablement programme enables the effective, rapid scale-up of innovations by providing customised support in the areas of strategy, fundraising, communication, knowledge management and mentoring. This puts projects in a position to multiply their impact inside and outside the WFP Innovation Accelerator.
- Frontier innovations: The WFP Innovation Accelerator researches pioneering innovations and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, edge computing and robotics in order to make humanitarian aid even more effective.
- Innovation services: The WFP Innovation Accelerator also manages accelerator and innovation programmes for other organisations (such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for Primary Healthcare, Humanitarian Grand Challenge, UNFPA), which drive the progress towards the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
On its fifth anniversary, the WFP Innovation Accelerator was one of only 10 organisations and companies worldwide to receive the award as best workplace for innovators 2020 as well as for the best innovation team of the year from the renowned technology magazine FastCompany. In addition, in 2020 the WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
New technologies play an important role in the WFP Innovation Accelerator. Some of the flagship projects are: