How can non-traditional tools, actors and methodologies support the creation of solutions through rapid prototyping and design thinking by, with, and for affected communities and humanitarian field staff?

Our interest in investing in bottom-up innovation is to accelerate, simplify and reduce the cost of rapid prototyping in a humanitarian setting, and to avoid heavy procurement and finance processes. The GHL does this by:

  • Scanning and mapping innovative solutions that are applicable to humanitarian action.
  • Building partnerships and spaces for creativity and humanitarian innovation.
  • Supporting innovative humanitarian startups

In a nutshell

Bottom-up innovation can simply be defined as a solution developed by individuals who are part of a community which the solution serves. Usually such solutions derive from informal structures and smaller organisations, applying no scientific innovation process but rapidly iterating through trial and error, which the current zeitgeist equates to processes like “rapid prototyping” and the “lean fail fast”.

On the other hand, bottom-up innovation can be defined by what it’s not, i.e. a top-down, formal, process intense and budget heavy endeavor by bigger organisations such as traditional academic and corporate research teams.

Expected benefits

Both top-down and bottom-up processes might lead to innovations but there are clear benefits for humanitarian actors to consider the latter, as the bottom-up innovation will result in decreased duration, reduced cost, and empowerment of affected communities and humanitarian staff in the field.