NOK 30 million to new humanitarian innovation programme

Today, Innovation Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an innovation programme that will facilitate partnerships between humanitarian organisations and private companies. The aim of the programme is to develop innovative technological solutions that can provide better, more effective help to people affected by humanitarian crises.

Armed conflict, climate change and persistent poverty are creating complex humanitarian crises that are lasting longer and affecting more people than the crises of the past. The gap between humanitarian needs and the resources available for humanitarian efforts is growing, and new solutions are needed in order to help more people.

Business sector an important part of the solution

‘Innovation is a key priority in the Government’s new humanitarian strategy. Private sector actors can help us to improve humanitarian response – not only by providing financing but also by providing expertise and technologies that are currently being developed and used primarily outside the humanitarian sector. If this programme is successful, we can make our funding go further while at the same time helping more people,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide. 

The programme is part of Norway’s new humanitarian strategy, and will provide financial support to humanitarian organisations that take the initiative to develop new solutions in collaboration with relevant companies. In order to receive funding, the organisations must have established partnerships with private sector actors.

Triggering more private investment

‘We need to cooperate across sectors in order to be able to help more people. Norwegian companies are internationally competitive when it comes to technology, and if we combine their expertise with the insights and experience gained from humanitarian operations, we can provide a better and more effective humanitarian response,’ said Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway.

The new programme will be able to finance the development of completely new solutions – or early stage innovations – which have already proved to be better, smarter or more effective than the ones in use today, but which need to be developed further before they can be employed on a larger scale. Some of the funding will be used to set up an innovation lab, where organisations and companies can collaborate on finding new solutions to one or more needs. The funding is to be matched by private investments, and in this way the programme will help to trigger more private investment in the humanitarian sector.

New partnerships

‘It is important to facilitate the development of new partnerships that build knowledge and enable the sharing of insights between humanitarian organisations and relevant segments of the business sector. Innovation Norway is pleased that the Government has given this priority in its new humanitarian strategy,’ Ms Krohn Traaseth said.

One of those who is already involved in humanitarian innovation is the entrepreneur and former refugee Olivier Mukuta. Through his fintech company Vipicash, he has developed a solution for ensuring safe money transfers in refugee camps.

‘We are totally dependent on the experience and expertise of the humanitarian organisations if our technology is to make a difference in the field. As tech entrepreneurs, we operate quite differently from the humanitarian organisations, but that is also one of the main strengths of our cooperation. We have the technological know-how, and they see the needs,’ Mr Mukuta said.

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