WFP unit named Innovation Team of the year by Fast Company magazine

By Kenneth Tong

WFP Innovation Accelerator has been named among Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators in 2020 — and the New York-based magazine’s Innovation Team of the Year.

The news comes as the World Food Programme’s dedicated unit for accelerating innovation celebrates its 5th year.

Innovation has been part of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) DNA since it organized the first humanitarian airlifts in 1962. This year the agency is aiming to reach its largest number of people ever with life-saving and life-changing food assistance, as coronavirus pushes the number of hungry people up.

Cutting-edge tech such as the AI used in WFP’s satellite imagery tracking app Skai and its HungerMapLive tool, help to assess hunger, predict emerging crises, and plan humanitarian responses.

Clockwise from upper left: A WFP plane making an airdrop in South Sudan; HungerMap LIVE; EMPACT (digital livelihoods) in Iraq; H2Grow (hydroponics) in Chad. Photos: WFP Photo Library

Changing with the times

More and more of WFP’s food assistance is now provided through digital cash-based transfers, empowering vulnerable families with the choice to buy the foods they need, while also supporting the local economy.

Cash-based transfers amounted to over US$2.1 billion provided to 28 million people in 64 countries in 2019. This includes blockchain-enabled transfers to 107,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and over 200,000 Rohingya refugees while maintaining COVID-19 physical distancing in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

WFP also helps transfer knowledge so that people can use H2Grow hydroponic agriculture techniques to grow food in deserts, or learn new digital skills in our EMPACT programme, that will prepare them for the future of work, so that they can earn an income online.

WFP Innovation Accelerator marks its 5th Anniversary today!

Scaling such innovations is the ultimate goal: to achieve impact for the most vulnerable populations worldwide. Since 2015, and following the launch of the award-winning ShareTheMeal app, the WFP Innovation Accelerator has sourced over 5,100 innovation applications, tested more than 60 new ideas in WFP field operations, and scaled 11 transformative projects, which impacted over 1.4 million people in 2019 alone.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator Team in Munich in 2019

Teamwork and diversity

The WFP Innovation Accelerator attracts forward-thinking team members who come from different walks of life: humanitarian field workers and start-up founders; social entrepreneurs and business leaders; designers and development investors. Together we bring ideas forward that improve how WFP works towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger.

From growing hydroponic food in impossible places, to reducing post-harvest losses; or digitally optimizing nutrition in school meals for children, and skills training refugee youths, WFP is continually innovating and exploring new way to help end hunger.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.

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Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.

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