This week at the Accelerator we're marking the one year anniversary since we opened our doors in Munich, Germany. At a ceremony attended by WFP’s former Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, the then German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Frank Steinmeier, and Dr. Gerd Mueller, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, we challenged others to help us find and scale innovation. More than 250 guests – entrepreneurs, students and partners – came together for an action packed day of pitching, brainstorming and collaboration for zero hunger.
And since then? We’ve been busy working alongside hundreds of entrepreneurs, partners, donors and the people we serve. From our office in the heart of Munich, we‘ve been iterating, refining and scaling bold solutions to hunger. We’ve also welcomed new members to our team in Munich, and connected with hundreds of thinkers, doers and dreamers who share our vision of harnessing the power of innovation. More than 20 projects have received support through our Sprint Programme and dozens of staff have joined our intensive Innovation Boot Camps.
The Power of Ideas
Ideas change the world - and ideas could propel us towards our goal of zero hunger. An idea can arrive in all shapes and sizes; from the bold, futuristic concepts such as robotic farming right through to a simple hydroponics DIY kit.
Over the past twelve months, we’ve received more three hundred ideas from all over the world – an astonishing number. And it’s not just the quantity of applications, but the quality of the thinking. Whilst the majority have come from WFP staff working on the frontlines of the fight against hunger, many others come from budding and experienced entrepreneurs from Beijing to the heart of Silicon Valley.
Just last week, one the most promising ideas developed by WFP staff in Colombia launched their nutrition learning platform Nutrifami.
Vision Without Execution is Hallucination
Whilst you can’t get started without an idea, the most important ingredient in any great innovation lies in execution. Without the necessary resources, determination and focus on bringing your idea to life, it’s destined to fail to make the desired impact. Since launching, the Accelerator has supported WFP’s growing pool of innovators bridge that gap. More than 20 innovation teams have participated in our Sprint Programme, a purpose designed programme that provides teams with strong ideas the financial resources, attention and space needed to execute.
Building Blocks, WFP’s blockchain pilot, is just one example. In just twelve short months, a team headed by Houman Haddad, a WFP Finance Officer, has brought his vision to reality. Today, more than 10,000 Syrian refugees redeem their WFP provided assistance on the blockchain-based system.
In the last decade, we’ve become used to the almost daily disruption of our lives by companies such as Apple, AirBnB or Facebook. Industries have been turned on their head, fuelled by the growth of connectivity and the social Web. New technologies offer similar opportunities for humanitarians, the private sector and global citizens alike to disrupt hunger. Working with broad range of partners, we’ve started exploring and testing self-driving technology, artificial intelligence and augmented reality as tools to end hunger. But we can’t go alone in our push for exponential. In January 2017, we launched a global call for ‘moonshot’ solutions to hunger with the world famous think-tank, Singularity University. Watch this space in the years ahead!
Did You Meet Us?
Innovation requires collaboration. That’s why we’ve been speaking, listening and working with partners big and small all across the world. We’ve met many of you at events such as the AI for Social Good conference in Geneva, the UN General Assembly in New York and in the most remote villages of Tanzania and Pakistan. Thousands of people have heard our story, and many more have followed up with questions, advice and offers of support.
Thank you to all the bold and determined innovators, partners and donors who have supported the Accelerator over the last twelve months. If you want to help develop bold solutions to hunger – or think you have a great idea – visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to know more? Visit our '2016 Year In Review' visualisation here.