Meeting humanitarian challenges through innovative partnerships

Humanitarian organizations are operating in complex environments, and at the same time the growth in humanitarian funding is slowing down. There is a need to do more with less. Innovation Norway and The Humanitarian Innovation Platform hosted a breakfast seminar about the role of innovative partnerships and procurement in helping humanitarian agencies meet this challenge.

Innovation Norway supports the Sustainable Development Goals.

Innovation Norway supports the Sustainable Development Goals.

Foto: UN


The seminar brought together companies and representatives from various Norwegian NGOs to explore the legal framework for the public procurement of innovation, including how to navigate the issue of intellectual property rights, and draw on hands on experiences from Norwegian humanitarian agencies and the Stavanger Municipality. It is important to create spaces to discuss these issues in order to share learnings and gain inspiration in how to move forward.

Lessons learned

The Norwegian Red Cross shared their lessons learned about partnerships with the private sector. They pointed out that the rationale for establishing new and innovative partnerships is that the humanitarian landscape is in rapid change and it is challenging as many crises have a protracted nature. At the same time, there are rapid technological advancements happening which demands closer collaboration with the private sector in order to utilize new technologies for a better and more cost efficient humanitarian response.

Partnerships between the humanitarian organizations and private companies can be difficult. Taking the time to build mutual trust and get to know each other’s intentions in the initial phase of a partnership process is important. One of the Norwegian Red Cross’ learnings was that the parties need to recognize the scope of the project, and form a clear common understanding of each other’s value proposition.

The private sector can contribute to humanitarian innovation with their technical capabilities and expertise rather than just being an additional source of funding. Innovative partnerships bring added value to humanitarian work because it builds and enables the parties’ competences when managed in a good way, which in turn can provide improved humanitarian aid.