‘Innovation Exchange’ inspires 100 humanitarians

14 Dec 2015

The ‘Innovation Exchange’ event held at TNO at 8 December 2015 received great interest from 100 innovators in the field of humanities and development. A diverse crowd from NGO’s, companies, knowledge institutes and ministries shared their experiences in 10 thematic sessions.

The event was organized by War Child, TNO, Child Helpline International and Free Press Unlimited. These partners joined forces on the unique initiative in the period 2011-2015. Challenges in (post-) conflict areas require new initiatives by new actors: to reach the unreached, to hear the unheard, and to optimise existing efforts to support children and young people affected by conflict. Conn@ct.Now aimed to reach, support and enable the social activation of children and young people in fragile states to exercise and claim their rights. The programme is deployed in four countries: Uganda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and Colombia with a budget of 21 Million Euro from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
TNO’s role in the program is to lead the innovation process and to contribute with expertise on ICT and Media.  We introduced and organized the annual Innovation Award Competition and supported with expert knowledge on the E-learning Sudan project, where children who can’t go to school learn counting with a serious game on a tablet. This Innovation Exchange was the closing event of our collaboration to disseminate learnings.


The audience was welcomed by Paul de Krom, CEO of TNO, followed by an introduction of To Tjoelker, head of DSO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Interaction between participants took place in 10 thematic sessions and the networking during the walking diner. At the event attention was paid to what types of innovation are needed in this sector, how you can organize innovation in your own organization,  criteria and success factors for innovation, new technologies (like application of drones), and types of partnerships that stimulates innovation.  Some results of the discussions are:

  • More attention has to be paid to the mindset of each public and private partner, in order to gain mutual respect and to strengthen the collaboration;
  • Failure is an option! As sector we have a sharp focus on successes; more room for failures is required as part of an innovation strategy. Innovation includes risks and thus failures. We can learn from them and have to communicate them internally and externally;
  • Break-through innovations are needed to realize the huge impact that we are looking for. More guts and entrepreneurship is required instead of monitoring and mitigation of risks.
  • The main success factor of innovation and transition is a dedicated person within the participating organization who will shape the innovation and is undaunted by resistance;
  • We need robust evidence based knowledge to support our innovative approaches.
See also

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