SISTEER Nepal Day 14: World Vision, Nepal Innovation Lab

During our visit to the Nepal Innovation Lab (NLab), there were a total of 4 different presentations - the first about NLab and the subsequent 3 about the projects that they incubated namely Field ready Nepal, Field Site, and Sikka.

First presentation (About NLab): The Nepal Innovation Lab was established in 2015 as part of World Vision International Nepal’s Earthquake Response with the aim to contribute to the national recovery and to inspire the humanitarian as well as the development sectors to deliver more effective, high-quality and community-driven responses. It aims to answer 3 questions in its work: 1. Who can we innovate with/for? 2. How can we integrate the innovation capacity of Nepal’s private sector into the community? 3. How do we use innovation to build back communities after catastrophes? As an incubation Lab, Nepal Innovation Lab provides humanitarian projects with  start-up capital and aids them during their prototyping and developing phase. Following which, the Lab will offer mentorship, connections to relevant stakeholders, as well as resources to scale up.

2nd presentation (Field Ready Nepal):
  • Uses 3D printers to make items readily available at disaster sites (some examples for items include medical equipment like scalpel and otoscope. They also innovate to create new products such as water drainage tools).
  • Train local people, provide them with materials and tools to produce items using 3D printer
  • Created polyfloss, an insulating material for temporary housing structures made from shredded PET bottles.
  • Came up with house reconstruction model (i forgot the details for this lol)
Their framework: field deployment (manufacture at site) → distributed manufacturing, sharing information, connecting people → raise awareness of new technology, train relief workers

3rd presentation (Field site):
  • Aim: to help humanitarian projects to overcome lack of data + lack of visibility of data + difficulty of monitoring projects
  • Consist of 2 parts: mobile app (collect information) and web app (analyze data - internal and public dashboards, reports and allows data to be exported)

4th presentation (Sikka):
  • A digital asset transfer platform designed for financially marginalized people in rural populations
  • Problems Sikka tries to address: logistics, security, high overhead costs, transparency
  • Models: cash transfer programme model, remittance model, financial service provider model, know your customer model, cooperative model

When we initially visited the Nepal Innovation Lab, a majority of us did not expect that the projects implemented by this organisation would be heavily focused on data and statistics. This came as a surprise because we thought the organisations would focus on solving more immediate problems through the implementation of basic strategies, given that Nepal is an underdeveloped country where the average Nepalese would have little knowledge of data analysis and usage of technology. Therefore, we felt that the founders of World Innovation Lab were forward looking in their approach to tackle issues faced by Nepal, while bearing in mind the needs of their target audience. What started out as a solution to address the problems posed by the earthquake in Nepal was posited to address other dilemmas and challenges in other facets of Nepal’s development. This reminds us that we should always remain open minded and be adaptable to different scenarios, as one idea may be a solution to multiple problems.

Written by Joel Chew and Grace Pang