InnoCentive and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund Collaborate to Reduce the Health and Disease Risks Associated with Inadequate Waste Treatment

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Waltham, Mass. – May 9, 2012 – InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), today announced a Challenge to find easy-to-use, economical, and innovative waste management solutions that will reduce the health risks related to inadequate containment or decontamination of human waste during emergency or disaster response situations. This Challenge is sponsored by the HIF through a partnership between Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) and Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP).

Natural or man-made disasters—including earthquakes, tsunamis, flash floods and volcanic eruptions—typically occur rapidly and without notice, resulting in large numbers of displaced people often gathered at aid sites and in urban areas. This influx can quickly overwhelm existing sanitation infrastructure and create significant difficulties in managing the containment and disposal of human waste. Historically, pit latrines have proven to be an efficient and relatively rapid solution. However, in situations where the ground is not suitable for digging latrines, such as in flooded or urban environments, few other sustainable options exist. Raised latrines, portable or chemical toilets, and personal waste containers are alternatives, but all of these known solutions have notable drawbacks. Without adequate treatment of human waste in emergency situations, outbreaks of enteric disease become common. In fact, disease outbreaks can cause more fatalities than the primary disaster.

HIF has teamed up with InnoCentive on a new Challenge, Safe Containment or Processing of Human Waste in Emergency Situations, which seeks novel methods for the containment or decontamination of human waste to reduce the health and disease risks endemic in disaster response situations. Ideal solutions will be those that can be implemented by non-specialists using materials and methods that are readily available to developing nations. This Theoretical Challenge is open to all InnoCentive Solvers worldwide through July 3, 2012, requires only that Solvers submit a written proposal, and carries a total award payout of $15,000 for winning solution(s). The HIF will work to disseminate winning solution(s) across the humanitarian sector.

“The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is delighted to work with InnoCentive to broaden the ideas available for solving some of the longstanding issues in humanitarian aid,” said Ben Ramalingam, chair of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund Strategy Group. “As recent crises like Haiti and Pakistan have shown, we face considerable challenges in sanitation, especially in urban settings. We are very keen to explore the potential for addressing these issues by tapping into InnoCentive’s global network of problem Solvers, and hopefully, this will be the first of many such collaborations.”

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund was established in 2012 to support organizations and individuals working to identify, nurture, and share innovative and scalable solutions to the challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance. This InnoCentive Challenge is a new venture for the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and complements the Fund’s two existing funding facilities, which have funded 14 innovation projects to date. This Challenge is also generously supported by Nature Publishing Group, Popular Science, and The Economist, and will be posted to their respective websites so that their communities may engage as well.

“We are very pleased to be collaborating with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund on this Challenge and welcome the support of our partners Nature Publishing Group, Popular Science, and The Economist to extend the reach of the Challenge to millions of additional potential Solvers,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. “Natural disasters requiring rapid emergency response are all too frequent these days, so we view it as imperative that we bring all of our efforts to bear to help solve a problem that could save thousands or even millions of lives.”

About Humanitarian Innovation Fund

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is managed by ELRHA (Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance) in partnership with ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action). Hosted by Save the Children, the fund is currently made up of contributions from the UK Department of International Development, Canadian International Development Agency, and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a total funding amount of over £1.8 million. More information about the Humanitarian Innovation Fund can be found at


Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) is the first collaborative network dedicated to supporting partnerships between higher education institutions in the UK and humanitarian organizations and partners around the world. ELRHA aims to see a global humanitarian community where humanitarian actors actively collaborate with higher education institutes to develop highly professional responders, share expertise, and carry out research that noticeably reduces risk and ensures that those suffering from the impact of disasters receive more timely, relevant, and sustainable assistance. ELRHA is officially hosted on behalf of the humanitarian sector by Save the Children. More information on ELRHA can be found at


Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) is a unique network of the key international humanitarian organizations and experts from across the humanitarian sector, including members from donor, NGO, Red Cross/Crescent, UN, and independent/academic organizations. A collective response by the humanitarian sector, ALNAP is dedicated to strengthening humanitarian performance through improved learning and accountability. More information, including their work on humanitarian innovation, can be found at

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, network of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Eli Lilly & Company, Life Technologies, NASA, Nature Publishing Group, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster, more cost effectively, and with less risk than ever before. For more information, visit or call 1-855-CROWDNOW.


Media Contacts

Steve Bonadio
InnoCentive, Inc.

Avi Dines
Schwartz MSL for InnoCentive

Emily Whitehead
+44 (0) 7554 409199

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