Innovation is the application of new solutions to unfamiliar problems.

While innovation is often described as “creating value from solutions,” our approach is fundamentally driven by problem-solving. In emergencies, there are so many problems that professional humanitarians often don’t have the time, space, networks or innovation frameworks and thinking to solve these effectively.

We support people in emergencies – communities and aid agencies – by helping them think differently and trial solutions on the ground. Similar to business, there are problems, both simple and complex, that are often only visible on the ground. We identify the real problems with the people they affect and innovate in real time.

The Response Innovation Lab’s role is innovation on the ground in disaster contexts – real time solving of problems in the largest international emergencies. We work in large-scale humanitarian emergencies such as earthquakes, typhoons, civil war and unrest, and long-term protracted crisis such as Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and other areas in need of critical longer term support.

We bring interdisciplinary groups together on the ground to develop, test and scale up what works both in country and internationally. Innovations can range from adapting and improving current humanitarian practice or processes to entirely new solutions guided by local context. Working with organisations and networks, innovations can be implemented in future disasters.

Collaboration is one of the core principles of the Response Innovation Lab. By working with other organisations, networks and alliances we multiply the impact of helping affected populations recover. Knowledge sharing, participation and collaboration with others is essential to our humanitarian innovation both on the ground and in remote support.

Credit: Impact Hub
Credit: Impact Hub

"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