The Disaster Response Innovation Fund Is Open for Applications

Press Release | GSMA | September 7, 2017

Since the inception of GSMA’s Disaster Response programme in 2012, we have worked with our GSMA members, humanitarian partners and the wider private and humanitarian sectors to drive the creation and adoption of coordinated, impactful solutions and practices that leverage the ubiquity of the mobile technology. Since 2015 we have done this under the umbrella of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, a global initiative which now has over 115 Mobile Network Operator (MNO) signatories across 78 countries.

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of our newest initiative to support innovative responses to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies: the Disaster Response Innovation Fund.

From Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, to Nepal’s 2015 earthquake we have seen time and again how mobile technology is being used to support preparedness and response activities and to maintain dignity for those impacted. And we are increasingly seeing examples of mobile technology being used in innovative ways in disaster and humanitarian preparedness and response; from ‘super base stations’ to innovative connectivity provision for displaced populations, humanitarian call centres and digitized response activities to country-wide Early Warning Systems.

New technology enabled services have supported communities and increased resilience around the world. As natural and manmade disasters increase in their frequency and impact, MNOs, innovation labs and technology hubs around the globe are actively exploring the potential role of mobile technology in preparedness and response. The Disaster Response Innovation Fund provides an opportunity to unite these efforts, linking initiatives which have mutual goals and bringing their innovative ideas to life.

The Fund is open to applicants delivering impact in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. As partnerships are critical to delivering sustainable impact, applications must represent a collaboration consisting of two or more mobile network operators, NGOs, humanitarian agencies, emergency/environmental bodies and/or private sector companies. For instance, potential applications could include an Internet of Things solution for triggering early warning system alerts or an open-source mobile-based platform for sharing humanitarian information. Seed funding or market validation funding of up to £300,000 per project will be available.

It is essential that both the mobile industry and the humanitarian sector continue to innovate in order to improve their capacity to deal with crises, and ensure that the needs of affected populations can be met. Whilst great strides are being made in the development of innovative services and solutions, it is clear that no single sector can tackle the scale of the challenges alone. The Disaster Response Innovation Fund will support collaborations which have the potential to enhance or transform preparedness and response activities and improve the delivery of dignified aid.

It is anticipated that the Fund will support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, extending the impact of mobile in helping build resilient infrastructure and making communities inclusive, safe, and sustainable.

We are excited to receive applications from eligible organisations and we look forward to working with the successful projects which will be announced in March 2017. Please visit the Disaster Response Innovation Fund page to read more about the application process, and note the deadline of October 13th to submit your concept note.


The Disaster Response Innovation Fund is backed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the GSMA and its members.