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UNICEF Innovation Labs: DIY for solving Global Problems


UNICEF, the world’s leading organisation working for children in over 190 countries, is showing the world how to join forces to put their problem solving methods to global effect.

Its Innovation Labs website is a DIY guide on how to collaborate with the private sector, academia and youth to come up with effective solutions to serious issues. It’s a UNICEF creation but they encourage any creative mind to use their structures to put their thinking power to global use:

“This guide gives you the information you need to create your own lab. This could be a UNICEF lab—or could simply be a space of creativity that is aimed at solving significant global problems through the application of dedicated local resources.”

UNICEF Country Offices use Innovation Labs to branch out in their research to find new ways of alleviating tough problems. So it is about drawing on the expertise of others, bringing different viewpoints on board.

Crucially, the labs facilitate the solutions that are created to work on a global scale. A few examples of how this works in practice:

“The lab in Kosovo works with technology created in Prishtina, in Kampala, and elsewhere, and adapts it to the needs of a young, determined population. The lab in Uganda connects academia from the US, Europe, and Kampala, and creates system change at a national scale. The CCORE lab in Zimbabwe takes best practices from the world of operational research and applies them to pressing programmatic issues. These are just the beginning.”

The focus on an openness to change is refreshing, not least because it is good to see pioneers outside the private sector. The vision is certainly one more commonly found in large, forward-thinking companies within the creative industries than the third sector:

“An innovation culture embraces experimentation, and constantly evaluates and recognises failure as something to be learned from. In fact, failure viewed in the proper light often leads to novel solutions.”

Read An Innovation Lab Has High Value Because… to see the persuasive reasoning behind this implementation of innovation.

The project also exists as a printable document, and you can download it here.

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