Food in Emergencies, a Global Impact Challenge

Aranka Anema

2017 Winner
Aranka Anema

Nicholas Preston

2017 Winner
Nicholas Preston

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Global Grand Challenge Domain, Medicine, Data Science, Environment, Food, Security, Health

Winning idea: NavigAID

NavigAID centers around data-driven decision-making for hunger eradication.

Call for action

What moonshot innovation would you develop using exponential technology to provide sustainable access to local and nutritious food in emergencies?


The challenge

You have likely witnessed a scene like this far too many times on the news, from the safety of your home: hundreds, thousands, or even millions of families caught in the grip of conflict or disaster. Chased, burned, or washed out of their homes. Stripped of their belongings, cut off from their fields. Little to eat. Children denied food when they need it most. A life of stunting and underachievement—for those who get to live.

Fortunately, the World Food Programme (WFP) is there, in every emergency, providing basic food supplies or cash. But no one organization can do it all or ensure that no one gets left behind. People need to be able to support themselves, sustainably. And to stop people in emergency situations from going hungry, we need bold new thinking.

Therefore, we are proud to be working with WFP to host a special Global Impact Challenge aimed at eliminating world hunger by 2030. This partnership offers applicants a unique combination of Silicon Valley exponential thinking and global expertise in food assistance and humanitarian response. It’s time to harness the combined power of exponential technology and innovative thinking to end hunger once and for all!

We need you—your ideas, your vision, your bright bold brainwaves. Do you think you have a solution? A clever concept that allows people living in the most difficult conditions to produce nutritious food? A technology you’ve dreamt up that will quickly restore livelihoods and dignity in the midst of despair?

We’re challenging you to design a low-cost, scalable solution that enables severely marginalized people to support their (five-member, on average) household food and nutrition needs in a sustainable manner that lowers their dependence on aid.

The prize

Shortlisted winners will be invited to a bootcamp at the WFP Innovation Accelerator in Munich, Germany, where they’ll work on developing their ideas using lean startup and human-centered design methods, combined with WFP field expertise. The bootcamp will be hosted April 18-21, 2017.

Following the bootcamp, one team (with a maximum of two members) will move on and secure a full sponsorship to attend Singularity University’s prestigious Global Solutions Program (GSP) hosted from June 17 to August 17, 2017, on the SU campus at NASA Research Park. In addition, the WFP Innovation Accelerator will provide promising candidates from the bootcamp space, hands-on support, and sprint funding worth between USD 50,000 – 100,000.

Portrait of Maria from GSP15

Maria’s key GSP15 take-aways

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A group of people at GSP16

The first five weeks of GSP16

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Woman on stage speaking into a microphone

Five big ideas from GSP16

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Rules & Criteria

  • The more portable, the better
  • The faster the solution produces food, the better
  • The smaller the solution, the better
  • The cheaper, the better—for comparison: humanitarian assistance organizations usually spend around $75 per family/per month to provide a family of four with basic food
  • The less dependent on external resources such as materials, water, and electricity, the better
  • The more nutritious the food the solution produces, the better
  • The challenge is open to anyone, anywhere in the world
  • You must be age 21 or older on the first day of the GSP
  • You should be able to conduct yourself professionally in written and spoken English
  • You should be able to participate in the 4-day bootcamp in Munich from April 18-21, 2017
  • You should be able to participate in the entire GSP17 program from June 17 – August 17, 2017

We’re looking for innovators from all walks of life with proven grit and experience. You’re an ideal candidate if you:

  • Are an experienced entrepreneur who has already turned over at least one successful company, and are ready to do it again in the impact space
  • Are an accomplished technologist, scientist, or change agent and are recognized as a thought leader in your chosen field(s)
  • Have a background in or a passion for solving household food production in a disaster context
  • Are prepared to commit to launching a startup around your innovation and remaining attached to that venture, wherever the journey may lead post-GSP, based on your GSP team project

We will evaluate submissions using the following criteria:

  • Degree of solution’s relevance to this challenge theme
  • Adherence to the key design principles listed above
  • Feasibility, viability, and coherence of implementing the idea
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative potential, with a focus on technological novelty
  • Applicant’s leadership experience and quality, profile, achievements, and potential
  • CV or resume
  • Summary of accomplishments
  • An abstract of the project idea
  • A video URL of the project idea
  • Pitch deck
  • Applications open: January 18, 2017
  • Applications close: March 14, 2017
  • Finalists announced: March 21, 2017
  • Bootcamp: April 18-21, 2017
  • Winners announced: Early May, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions


This Global Impact Challenge (GIC) is an open call for moonshot innovations and startups using exponential technology for household food production in a displacement context with an ability to positively impact millions of people in 10 years. Shortlisted winners will receive a full sponsorship to attend the WFP Innovation Accelerator bootcamp and one team will move on to SU’s transformational Global Solutions Program.

No, ideas do not have to be at a certain stage to be submitted. Your idea can range from a concept with immense potential, to an invention you have patented or a startup that you have founded.

No, ideas do not have to be at a certain stage to be submitted.

Intellectual property resulting from a GIC belongs to the applicant(s).

The review process will consist of three phases. The first phase involves a review of all applications to determine shortlisted winners. Secondly, the five to ten winners will be invited to a four-day boot camp in Munich, Germany, hosted by WFP’s Innovation Accelerator. The third phase involves final judging at the bootcamp to select two winners to move on to Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program.

Yes, the GIC winners will be expected to continue working on their winning project or a different idea around the food challenge.

Travel and lodging expenses are covered for shortlisted winners to attend the bootcamp and for the eventual winners to attend GSP.

In all cases where a GIC winner cannot attend both programs, the winner forfeits his or her seat to the Bootcamp and GSP, and the offer will be extended to the first runner-up.

The challenge is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. You must be age 21 or older on the first day of the GSP, must be fluent in written and spoken English, able to participate in the 4-day bootcamp in Munich from April 18-21, 2017, and the entire GSP17 program from June 17 to August 17, 2017. Visa sponsorship letters can be provided.

Up to two team members can attend the GSP.

There is no cash prize. However, the candidates receive significant support and investment through both WFP and Singularity University. Shortlisted innovators whose ideas demonstrate the potential to accelerate the fight to end hunger may work with Singularity University, or continue into the WFP Innovation Accelerator Sprint Programme which includes support and funding for a preliminary pilot.

WFP and Singularity University are collaborating on the Global Impact Challenge.


Still have questions?

Get in touch with us by sending an email to [email protected] or [email protected].