The WFP Innovation Challenge 2020 has closed, but we are still accepting applications year round. The next round closes on 20 November 2020, with a chance to qualify for our February 2021 innovation bootcamp.

 

Unless swift action is taken, some 265 million people in low and middle-income countries will be in acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, due to conflict, climate shocks, poverty and #COVID19.

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating food insecurity, interrupting supply chains, and moving more people into hunger than previously predicted. WFP seeks cutting-edge solutions to transform emergency response and to achieve SDG2: Zero Hunger by 2030 for communities impacted by COVID19 and beyond. Innovations are needed more than ever before to achieve this goal.

In the The WFP Innovation Challenge 2020, we were looking for innovations that sought to disrupt hunger, and address any of the following problem statements.

1. COVID-19 emergency response. WFP is mobilizing to meet the needs of up to 138 million people in 2020, with more than half of WFP’s operations scaling up direct assistance in urban areas. Cities are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, accounting for 90 percent of COVID-19 cases and leaving millions without jobs unable to meet food other essential needs. It is challenging to identify, locate, target and reach those in most in need, particularly in urban areas and informal settlements. At the same time, better access to phones and internet in cities in comparison to urban areas, brings opportunities of using new technologies to address those challenges.

2. Local food security and market access for smallholder farmers. Domestic food supply is a challenge in many countries in which WFP operates, due to many factors – including severe  water scarcity, limited farmable land availability, a growing urban population and weak supply chain infrastructure. High volumes of imports and movement restrictions can create volatility and cause high price shocks, as seen during COVID-19. 

3. Sustaining and creating livelihoods. Two billion people – more than 61 per cent of the world’s employed population – make their living in the informal economy, most of whom reside in developing countries. COVID-19 movement restrictions have damaged the economic activity of millions of vulnerable people, and informal economy workers have very little access to reliable, adequate income generation opportunities. 

4. Affordable, nutritious diets and awareness. Healthy diets are on average five times more expensive than nutrient-poor diets, are unaffordable for more than 3 billion people around the world, and are often exacerbated by a lack of awareness of nutritious food and healthy consumption habits in low-resource environments. 

5. Appropriate energy solutions along the food value chain.  Access to energy is a consistent obstacle to food processing, cooking and preservation, which in turn has negative impacts on food availability, intake and nutritional value. Irrigation, tilling, milling and pressing are few examples of processes that are considerably enhanced by energy leading to increased quantity and quality of food. In addition, food is lost at every step of the value chain due to lack of cooking or preservation options, such as energy-efficient cooking options, refrigeration, smoking, drying, canning and sealing.

Of course, we are open to other ideas too. Read more in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page, or apply now using the links below.

2020 Programme Dates
  Cohort I Cohort II Cohort III
Application Deadline 20 March 2020 20 September 2020 20 November 2020
Innovation Bootcamp 22–26 June 2020 30 November–4 December 2020 15–19 February 2021
Pitch Event 25 June 2020 10 December 2020 To Be Determined

 

What We Offer

Funding

Access to WFP Operations

Hands-On Support

Networking

Apply to receive up to $100,000 in equity-free funding, with further funding dependent upon progress and measurable achievement of key targets. Successful teams will work with WFP units on the ground to further develop and refine their solutions. You'll have the chance to work with technical and industry mentors who will provide guidance and accelerate your progress. Teams will be able to tap into and leverage our strong network of public, private, and government partners to accelerate implementation.
How It Works

Apply for an Innovation Bootcamp

Our Innovation Bootcamps are five-day, high-intensity workshops to help your team dive deep into challenges, ideate solutions and refine your project plans. Twice a year, we source up to 10 teams based on a competitive application process with a one percent acceptance rate, offering a life-changing experience with expert mentors and facilitators. Over 50 percent of participating teams go on to receive funding and support.

Take the stage at an exclusive pitch event

On the last day of each Innovation Bootcamp, you’ll have the chance to pitch your project to an audience of potential partners, investors, and officials at an exclusive, invite-only pitch event. Take the stage to tell your story and compete for non-dilutive cash awards. We provide dedicated coaching and mentorship to help you develop and refine your winning pitch.

Sprint from idea to impact

Our Sprint Programme is an intense six-month acceleration programme that matches innovators and startups with exceptional support to sprint from idea to impact. Apply to our Sprint Programme for access to US $100,000 in funding, world-class mentors, results-driven programming, and WFP’s vast field operations. On average, our Sprint projects hit 69 percent of their targets within six months.

Zero in on what works, pre-scale

The pre-scale phase is a period to retool and prepare your project before full entry to the Scale-Up Enablement Programme. We provide access to best-in-class mentors and experts to help you zero in on what works and map out your path to scale.

Scale-up for global impact

We select high-impact innovations for our Scale-Up Enablement Programme, featuring tailored strategic planning, fundraising, communications, knowledge management and mentorship support. We scale-up innovations that have the potential to significantly disrupt hunger by improving the livelihoods of over 100,000 people, increasing efficiency and effectiveness across multiple countries. On average, our scale-up projects raised US $2 million in funding in 2019 alone.

Graduate within and beyond WFP

We match projects with sponsors to enable their sustainable graduation, internally or externally from WFP. Internally, we provide dedicated support to integrate scale-up projects into relevant WFP divisions or business units. Externally, we provide matchmaking support to help find the best partners and develop exit strategies to help projects become standalone, profitable businesses.

Eligibility Requirements
If you are a start-up...
  • Your start-up must be incorporated at the time of application. It can be for profit or not-for-profit.
  • Your innovation must at least be at the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage. Proof-of-concept and initial traction is preferred.
  • Your solution should be financially viable.
  • Your proposal must show how working with WFP will serve your long-term strategy.
If you are a WFP employee...
  • Your team must have evidence of Country Office support and management buy-in.
  • You are encouraged to apply, regardless of your contract type or function.
  • We accept project applications from WFP employees who are collaborating with NGOs, government or private sectors.
How We Select Innovations

Applications submitted to the WFP Innovation Accelerator are assessed according to a standard set of criteria, and are reviewed by both WFP and external experts. Please note that we prioritize projects that are designed alongside our core users—vulnerable communities—and that show initial traction and market validation to ensure impact and maximize cost effectiveness. We are looking for innovations that meet the following expectations:

  • Impact for the people we serve and potential to reach Zero Hunger
  • Feasibility, including time to deliver impact, technology maturity, and user traction
  • Level of innovation
  • Financial sustainability with a clear business case that does not rely on WFP funding
  • Team strength, experience, and commitment
Innovations in Action
Learn about previously submitted innovations that are already accelerating progress towards zero hunger.

Dalili

The app providing a sense of home away from home

H2Grow

Growing food in impossible places

Building Blocks

Blockchain for Zero Hunger