We build innovation labs to solve real, on-the-ground humanitarian problems.
The Response Innovation Lab was founded by humanitarian professionals from some of the world’s leading NGOs who experienced first-hand how difficult it is for innovative solutions to be piloted, tested and scaled in emergency contexts, where they are most needed. RIL aims to create collaborative spaces and networks inside major humanitarian responses to help connect humanitarian actors with non-traditional actors (such as the private sector, academia, and the innovation sector) to facilitate understanding shared challenges and identify potential breakthrough solutions that can better support addressing the needs of crisis affected communities.
Conflicts and disasters have left an estimated 201 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. 68.5 million people have been forced from their homes worldwide, the biggest recorded displacement in history. Despite the generosity and goodwill of governments and individuals, resources from traditional response mechanisms are not able to meet the needs of the impacted population. In most emergency contexts, the potential of non-traditional actors, particularly local ones, to contribute to relief and recovery remains untapped, largely due to the lack of collaboration opportunities. While humanitarian agencies have a long track record of ingenuity, expertise in sound innovation practices (challenge mapping, prototyping, incubating, etc) is often concentrated at the global level and largely missing in front line teams, hampering the efficiency and effectiveness of innovative programming and limiting the ability to scale up.
With its founding members – World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam, the George Washington University and Civic – the Response Innovation Lab is a global initiative that generates impact by transforming how challenges are solved in responses (be they linked to natural disasters or protracted, complex emergencies). RIL does not try to replace existing innovation structures (incubators, accelerators, hubs) but rather ensures that existing structures and networks are connected to one another and supported to deliver innovative solutions that address actual challenges standing in way of delivering aid effectively and efficiently to the most vulnerable people in the communities where it operates.
“The nature of an innovation is that it will arise at a fringe where it can afford to become prevalent enough to establish its usefulness without being overwhelmed by the inertia of the orthodox system.” – Kevin Kelly