Humanitarian Innovation Fund

A key objective of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) is to improve understanding of innovation processes in the humanitarian sector. An important part of achieving this is the production of case study material on specific projects, aimed at improving the sector’s understanding of how to undertake and support innovative programming in humanitarian action. This learning is then used to inform and provide guidance to the HIF and other humanitarian actors on how innovation can be better supported, resulting in improvements to humanitarian practice.
The focus of the case studies was an examination of the process through which innovations emerge and progress in humanitarian settings, to examine whether assumptions about this process hold true, and to learn more about the specific characteristics and attributes of successful innovation processes. In order to achieve these goals, the case studies included five key elements:
1.    A description of the context and background for the innovation and the project.
2.    An assessment of the overall success of the innovation process within a particular project. In addition, this stage took into account the perceived benefits of the process for the project team and others.
3.    A description of how the success factors were put into practice in the humanitarian context. An important part of the case study process was to test the extent to which certain assumptions hold true in humanitarian settings.
4.    An exploration of the distinct attributes of the success/failure factors in a given context, and of how the actions of grantees contributed to the presence or absence of these factors.
5.    An assessment of how and why the factors led to a successful process, where possible aiming to identify links that move beyond correlation and towards causation.
Jigsaw Consult was asked to develop two case studies, one on the use of interactive mobile phone technology by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in its response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the other on the development and implementation of the Humanitarian Genome Project, an innovation which originated in the University of Groningen and has been developed in collaboration with humanitarian agencies.
A wide range of stakeholders were interviewed for both case studies, enabling a depth of understanding from many different points of view, ensuring an accurate reflection of the innovation process and highlighting key lessons learned throughout the process that can be incorporated into improving humanitarian practice in the future.
The case study was then structured around the HIF’s documented innovation process (Recognition, Invention, Development, Implementation and Diffusion), and in addition some wider implications were outlined. Throughout the project Jigsaw Consult worked closely with the HIF to ensure the goals of the case studies were met. The two case studies can be found by following these links: