WFP Innovation Accelerator in Munich: how start-ups are trying to combat global hunger
Munich, 08 March 2018
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator has held its seventh Innovation Pitch Night in Munich. The event, on this occasion hosted by Google, was attended by approximately 200 participants from the WFP and acatech networks, including acatech President Dieter Spath and various companies from the Munich area that are represented on the acatech Senate. External start-ups and WFP project teams from around the world presented their ideas for feeding people in need in developing nations.
Since 2016, acatech has been cooperating on a number of projects with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator. The Innovation Accelerator supports the identification and development of innovative technologies for tackling food scarcity in developing countries through innovation boot camps, sprint programmes, innovation funding and mentoring.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator Pitch Night is the culmination of a five-day innovation boot camp. In this intensive start-up training course, start-ups and WFP project groups develop their ideas together with external mentors from industry – on this occasion Google Developers Launchpad. WFP project managers provide the teams with a deeper insight into the situation of local people and the technical infrastructure on the ground. Participants in the latest boot camp presented ideas on blockchain technology, the use of remote sensing for environment monitoring, and e-commerce platforms for farmers.
A total of eleven teams worked on a variety of projects, including the WFP’s Maano – Virtual Farmers’ Market (VFM). This online platform is used to compare local farmers’ surplus and buyers’ demand for crops, and to sell regional produce. The app-based e-commerce solution aims to create fair competition for local smallholder farmers.
Cargo on Demand (CODe) is an online platform that allows demand for humanitarian cargo deliveries to be matched to local transport companies, thereby improving the efficiency of emergency assistance and logistics. The Remote Sensing for Crop Assessment project of WFP South Sudan is developing a geodata-based assessment method that uses remote sensing data to provide more accurate assessments of crop yields. It is hoped that this solution will enable a faster and more targeted response to food crises and natural disasters. EverID is a stealth-stage company whose business model focuses on using user-centric, biometric identity solutions and blockchain technology to enable more transparent organisation of agricultural cooperatives.
After completing the boot camp, participants can apply for the second phase of the WFP Acceleration Programme, known as the Sprint Programme. Here, start-ups receive funding and hands-on support for carrying out a local pilot of their business idea. The WFP conducts a prior investigation to ascertain which countries have a need for the technology in question, so that it can select the appropriate WFP project region for the pilots and prototypes.