19/04/2024

From ideas to impact for children: The evolution of product innovation at UNICEF

Innovation has always been integral to UNICEF, intertwined with the organization’s origin and mission. Products like nutrient-rich powdered skim milk used in the 1960s for combating malnutrition in children, and oral rehydration salts in the 1990s as a remedy for diarrhoea, were critical innovations of their time. Harnessing 75 years of experience…, 2010-2014: Letting a thousand flowers bloom, UNICEF’s global supply hub launched its first formalized product innovation unit in 2010, to strategize and streamline the innovation of supplies across the organization. The initially small team, beginning with just two staff, embraced a bold approach characterized by exploring numerous ideas. This phase of innovation involved trying every idea…, 2015-2017: Research, development, and co-created innovation, A more strategic approach to innovation was necessary to balance the enthusiasm for generating ideas with pragmatism for the practical implementation of those ideas. One of the standout successes during this time was the UNICEF's High Performance Tent High Performance Ten t, a versatile solution used during emergencies as a health facility, school…, 2018-2019: Scaling innovation  , With thousands of innovators in the development sector striving to introduce new products for children, but with few products reaching scale mainly due to resource limitations, it became clear that UNICEF must prioritize its efforts and focus in areas where it can have the biggest impact: scaling innovations. By utilizing its vast presence across…, 2020-2024: Driving demand  , As UNICEF delved deeper into the nuances of scaling innovations, a crucial realisation emerged: true scaling is inherently linked to driving demand. After noting numerous instances where countries refused new products, UNICEF recognized that the challenge of scaling is seldom about supply, but directly tied to a lack of demand. It's about ensuring…