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 are looking for innovations that seek 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 for 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 percent 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 a 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.
What We Offer
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.
Networking – Teams will be able to tap into and leverage our strong network of public, private, and government partners to accelerate implementation.
- 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 are preferred.
- Your solution should be financially viable.
- Your proposal must show how working with WFP will serve your long-term strategy.
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 the potential to reach Zero Hunger
- Feasibility, including the 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