Jakarta, Indonesia 23 and 24 February (2017) Localisation of Innovation
As humanitarians we must go where the actual innovators are, not sit down inside an office and wait them to come to us.George Hodge
From floating structures to sustainable health insurance for affected communities, the first Flood Resilience Innovation Conference, hosted by Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Zurich Insurance, impressed not only a panel of expert judges, but most importantly a range of investors that may be incubating some of the projects that were conceived at local level.
The event was held as part of a process to find local people who have developed innovations to addressing flood resilience and to connect them with major partners and other opportunities. “Very often, in Humanitarian Innovation we see a lot of support for top-down innovation work being driven from Europe or North America, however we don’t see anywhere near enough support for local innovators who are already solving the challenges facing them. This initiative was about trying to support an already very strong local innovation ecosystem before rushing off to try and design new solutions miles away” said Shaun Hazeldine, Innovation Lead at the IFRC.
The dynamic event had pitching sessions, presentations, a marketplace of ideas and projects and winners from an Innovation Challenge announced, all from ideas and projects devised by local people.
One of the initiatives that was implemented to find these innovations was a ‘Lead User’ approach to innovation, a structured research approach that is commonly used in the private sector but is not widespread in Humanitarian work. The Lead User approach was led by Hamburg University of Technology with support from Bandung Institute of Technology and PMI.
The second part of the conference included an Ideas Pitch session, which put selected initiatives on stage to present their ideas to a judging panel; the best initiatives will receive a grant to keep developing the innovations.
There were also some fascinating presentations and panel debates with Nesta UK, Pulse Lab Jakarta, Innovesia, and more, on how to find social innovation ecosystems and how to support them, and the importance of combining research and analysis with field work.
Angel investors and funders attending the event had a chance to visit the innovators’ marketplace and explore a range of highly effective and often simple solutions. The event closed with the winning projects being announced after a very difficult decision between the judging panel just before the closing ceremony. The best projects selected by the judges were recognised in front of all the attendees, furthermore, each team received a grant to continue developing their ideas, and professional linkages, networks and other support.
Among the winners was an eco-friendly water filter intended for low-income families, a floating waterproof emergency kit, and participatory games to raise awareness among children and families of flood risks.
Within these two days, we all witnessed the rise of a new generation, adapting faster to the toughness of challenging adversities. I make a call to all of you, innovators, to start running your ideas with the ones closer to you. Not every project needs to be scaled and become a business; by making a difference in your own neighbourhood you are contributing to a better world.Sumarsono Pengurus