“Once a Lab has been established in country, we use GIE to help us to scope and research the new location we will be operating in. Our team on the ground look to GIE to see what innovators are already active in the country and to look for funding opportunities within humanitarian innovation. When we launched the online Matchmaker platform, we started using GIE to support our work in matching humanitarian challenges in the field with tested solutions. Now with the number of applications to the Matchmaker growing, GIE is still one of the first places we go to find innovations.”


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab




Since 2016, Response Innovation Lab (RIL) has supported innovation on-the-ground in humanitarian contexts, adding real-time problem solving to large-scale humanitarian challenges. The RIL is a consortium between three of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world (Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision) together with Civic and the George Washington University. In every lab, RIL convenes representatives from the private sector, the innovation sector, government, and the humanitarian sector to innovate more effectively in the field together. RIL surfaces shared challenges and supports the development of context-appropriate solutions, helping humanitarians to find appropriate, innovative solutions to their challenges.
 Focus Areas: Humanitarian Assistance

 Geography: Iraq, Jordan, Somalia, Uganda, Puerto Rico




First Stop to Find Solutions


With RIL’s new Matchmaker program (supported by USAID, DEPP Innovation Labs, Start Network and DFID) the team matches humanitarian challenges with innovative, tested solutions. With every incoming challenge submitted to the Matchmaker online portal, Global Program Director, Catherine Green, and team work quickly to find existing solutions that meet the challenge parameters. RIL’s comprehensive search looks for solutions in the affected country/region and globally. Results of the Matchmaker search are presented in a “solution package”. The RIL then works with the challenge-holder to think through which solution may be most appropriate to their context and, if requested, set up meetings with the solution-holders. 


“In every solution package that I’ve worked on, I’ve used GIE. It is the first place I go when a Humanitarian Matchmaker application lands in my inbox."


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab




How does it look in action?


A recent challenge submitted to the Matchmaker platform was from a large INGO looking for a different way to approach solid waste management inside a refugee camp in Jordan. The Matchmaker process was able to deliver a solution package to the challenge-holder that contained two local solutions and two global solutions that met their criteria. One of these solutions was sourced from GIE.


“With the GIE you can search quite an extensive database by sector and region. Some of the other databases out there are sector-specific or just aren’t as extensive as GIE. When I go to other databases, often some of the innovations are ones I’ve already come across on GIE.”


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab



With GIE the RIL team can be both quick and thorough. For the RIL team, GIE has become the reliable way to kick-off any new Matchmaker search.




Landscaping to Foster Local Innovation Ecosystems with GIE


RIL harnesses GIE’s global database to support local lab managers whose day-to-day work is to connect the local humanitarian community with the local innovation community and support the use innovation within a humanitarian context to better respond to the challenges in the context. GIE has supported RIL’s lab managers to expand their network and quickly dig deeper into their local humanitarian innovation community. The GIE has even been integrated into RIL’s orientation guide as on the online resources to review in order to get up-to-speed with what is happening in the local context.


“I recently on-boarded our new Iraq lab Manager. Together we reviewed GIE to support her to understand the humanitarian innovation ecosystem in Iraq. It provided her with new contacts she was able to follow up with and will assist her to be better able to bring different parts of the ecosystem together”.


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab



Charlene Cabot, Uganda Response Innovation Lab Manager, used Global Innovation Exchange when she started at Response Innovation Lab to help make sense of an extremely diverse innovation funding ecosystem.


I keep going back to the platform to keep abreast of the developments in the global innovation scene and to refer innovative local organizations to sources of funding in the GIE that could help them test their model or scale it up."


Charlene Cabot, Uganda Response Innovation Lab Manager



RIL harnesses GIE’s global database to support local lab managers whose day-to-day work is to connect the local humanitarian community with the local innovation community and support the use innovation within a humanitarian context to better respond to the challenges in the context. GIE has supported RIL’s lab managers to expand their network and quickly dig deeper into their local humanitarian innovation community. The GIE has even been integrated into RIL’s orientation guide as on the online resources to review in order to get up-to-speed with what is happening in the local context.


"To address this, the Iraq country Lab is using the GIE database of innovators to identify innovative solutions that could address some of the challenges raised by humanitarian actors in Iraq, hence connecting actors together.”


Nathalie Rami, Iraq Response Innovation Lab Manager



Catherine’s advice to others looking to understand the landscape or find specific innovations:


“GIE is a great first stop. It gives you a really good first cast of the net of what’s out there. If you’re looking for humanitarian innovations in a particular sector or country, GIE can give you a good overview and, if you want to take it further, some entries in GIE include contact details so you can reach out directly to the the innovators.”






Using GIE Data to Drive Growth and Expansion


With the growing number of humanitarian emergencies, RIL is looking to open new labs in locations where the humanitarian need is great. Catherine and the team use GIE to quickly get an overview of the humanitarian innovation landscape when a lab has been established.


“We look to GIE to help us build a picture of the humanitarian ecosystem once we have established a new lab. What funding opportunities are available for humanitarian innovation there? What innovators are already working in the country? Are there interesting innovators and projects in the country can we invite them to RIL convening events? Can we meet up with these innovators to understand their innovation better and understand where they are testing their innovations in-country?”


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab





Looking to the Future with GIE


The RIL has ambitious plans. The team looks to solidify the RIL as the go-to institution within humanitarian response for innovation capacity and advice. The RIL aims to grow both the services that in-country labs are able to offer and Matchmaker capabilities into 2019 and beyond:


"The RIL and our Matchmaker platform is only going to grow. We’re going to use GIE more and more as a number of challenges submitted in the Matchmaker increases."


Catherine Green, Global Program Director Response Innovation Lab



Response Innovation Lab's advice to innovators looking to make connections through GIE


“At a really practical level, the completeness and detail in the innovator’s pages is useful. When it’s not complete, it means that great ideas might not be able to be connected with the people and organizations who are working on the challenges that your innovation could solve!"