The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator sources, supports, and scales bold new solutions to disrupt global hunger and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Up to 828 million people – more than one in ten of the world’s population – still go to bed hungry each night. A deadly combination of conflict, climate change, and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is at the root of soaring hunger numbers.
The economic fallout of the pandemic, and then the war in Ukraine, has pushed prices up and put food out of reach for millions of people across the world. These rising costs are also affecting WFP’s work. Already at the start of 2022, the price WFP was paying for food was up by 30 percent compared to 2019, and the cost of delivering it had risen by an additional US$42 million a month.
Therefore, for this edition of the WFP Innovation Challenge, they are specifically looking for low and high-tech solutions including digital tools. They also encourage strong “wildcard ideas” to apply. Together with the brightest and best minds globally, they will be able to end hunger. WFP’s current innovation priorities are listed below:
- Innovative solutions to mitigate the rising cost of inputs and food.
- Innovative solutions to strengthen productivity and outcomes along food value chains.
- Innovative solutions to build resilient communities through livelihood creation and youth engagement.
f 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.
- They accept project applications from WFP employees who are collaborating with NGOs, government or private sectors.
How to apply
- Start-Ups and Companies: Do you have an innovation that can end hunger? They want to support you.
- WFP Employees: Are you an innovator at WFP? They want to work together with you to design bold solutions.
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. Note that they prioritize projects that are designed alongside their core users—vulnerable communities—and that show initial traction and market validation to ensure impact and maximize cost-effectiveness.
They are looking for innovations that meet the following expectations:
- Impact for the people WFP serves 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
- Funding: Apply to receive up to $100,000 in equity-free funding, with further funding dependent upon progress and measurable achievement of key targets.
- Access to WFP Operations: Successful teams will work with WFP units on the ground to further develop and refine their solutions.
- Hands-On Support: You’ll have the chance to work with technical and industry mentors who will provide guidance and accelerate your progress. Selected projects will be able to apply for the WFP Sprint Programme, a six-month acceleration programme that may qualify for further funding and support.
- Networking: Teams will be able to tap into and leverage WFP’s strong network of public, private, and government partners to accelerate implementation.
November 3, 2023