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Labs and Beyond - Opportunities to Transform Innovation Support

innovation programs sector - aid and development Jan 04, 2024

This report, developed for the START Network, explores opportunities for pushing beyond conventional innovation support models.  Leveraging hands-on insights from the DEPP Innovation lab initiative in Kenya, Jordan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, it challenges what may seem to be an obvious assumption … that doing more for humanitarian and development sector innovation requires direct investment in programs that support innovators in their work.

While innovation labs and related challenge grant programs are a frequently leveraged strategy for investing in innovation, these innovator centric strategies are burdened by fundamental limitations. They are often difficult to sustain at scale and traditionally deliver bounded product and service innovations, similar to business startups in the commercial sector.

Yet, Innovation Labs don’t have to be the only strategy for innovation support. The Aid Sector’s uniquely difficult and complex innovation challenges may benefit from a more radical reimagining of innovation support systems. This report focuses on several such departuresfrom existing models of support. It begins by laying out a history of existing innovation support models and then moves on to explore four major opportunities to stretch innovation support beyond the walls of the innovation lab.

Labs and Beyond:Opportunities to Transform Innovation Support


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