Bringing together uncommon partners to validate solutions in the field
For those living in some of the most vulnerable and challenged parts of the world, technology often means the difference between life and death. To help address urgent needs around the world, Singularity University Labs’ Field Innovation Exchange (FIX) helps pilot and validate early-stage products by pairing SU startups and innovator teams with global nonprofit organizations to put solutions into action in real-world situations.
We work with local partners to facilitate a receptive innovation environment by applying inclusive innovation practices, ensuring respect for the community, and providing support for our own teams. FIX incubates, accelerates, and validates these entities committed to positive impact, by acting as a facilitator, bringing rapid iteration and reverse innovation approaches to world-renowned nonprofits. At the same time, we provide mission-driven, socially conscious entrepreneurs with significant opportunities to design for the extreme user and create meaningful impact in the world.
The exchange begins with teams traveling to various global locations for up to 3 weeks, where they implement cutting-edge technology solutions to address local instances of global grand challenges. They evaluate host community needs alongside participating nonprofits in order to validate and iterate effective early-stage solutions. The teams work closely with these nonprofits to integrate appropriate solutions for improved service delivery, iterate with real-world feedback, and accelerate product maturity. This is the ultimate example of a win-win-win scenario.
On the other side of the exchange, nonprofits send teams to Singularity University’s campus at the NASA Ames Research Park for 2 weeks to learn about—and explore first-hand—some of the most advanced technology and methodologies available. The program introduces nonprofits to exponential technologies and thinking in such a way that they understand the power and potential of integrating them into their own products and services.
We’re witnessing a lot of exciting innovation in the world, but not all of it is seeing the daylight of markets. Technology in a lab, while promising in its formative stages, is vastly different from technology that has secured wide adoption. Our insights show us that new ventures are struggling to leverage their social capital to get the data, financing, or relationships that will lead them to a pilot, to products, and to success.
FIX has solved that pain point. Leveraging our impressive network, we foster beneficial connections, remove obstacles, accelerate the movement of technology from prototype to finished product, and enable these ventures to enter markets alongside the biggest players in social impact to address humanity’s grand challenges. Our intention is not to validate a given technology, but rather to demonstrate that some technologies are worth the time, research, and investment to bring to market.
—Francisco Barreto Araujo
Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Education, Viva Rio
We work with nonprofits that are prepared to introduce innovation into their products and organizational processes. Organizations selected to host FIX exchanges normally meet these criteria:
We work with technology teams and startups primed to create global impact and improve the lives of over 1 billion people while building powerful technology-driven businesses that can change the world. Through FIX, we seek to validate promising technologies. Doing so, we have helped innovators tap into significant new market opportunities, as well provided them:
As noted above, FIX validates new products in end-user markets, improves technology roll-outs, and introduces a new means for meaningful innovation at corporations. FIX advances SU’s mission of leveraging exponential technologies to tackle humanity’s grand challenges. Beyond our mission, corporations and foundations can find real impact engagement and value by participating in FIX.
Propel FIX’s impact by supporting innovation and impact with one or more of the following packages:
Introduce your organization to the practical application of exponential technologies in addressing the global grand challenges. Support entrepreneur teams from startups and nonprofits that are working to build solutions to these problems.
We’ll provide a dive deep into the innovation process for a team of 2-3 people from your organization. Your team will participate in exponential technology creation or validation during a hands-on learning experience at SU’s campus in Silicon Valley.
This is a unique opportunity to send your entrepreneurial team into the field to discover new innovation opportunities in an experience hosted by one of our nonprofit partners. Your Champion of Impact experience continues into SU’s ideation workshop where your team members will process their insights, identify new opportunity spaces, and generate concepts for prototyping leveraging their deepened understanding of emerging technologies, business models, and global grand challenges.
Your host organization will join the SU team on campus for its own hands-on learning experience, ensuring that both the your organization and the development organization partner are primed and ready to accelerate the future.
Scalable mental health services are in short supply on refugee sites, so a Field Innovation Team set out to address this need. The social challenges are inherently significant when it comes to providing support to people who have experienced war, fled their homeland for safety, and found refuge in self-assembled camps in neighboring countries. The Field Innovation Team’s first stop was Lebanon, with the further intent of helping refugees and migrant populations globally.
X2AI’s AI chat-bot, Karim, can provide psychological support and seemed to offer the perfect solution.
Applying its exponential technology to render assistance, X2AI supported the Field Innovation Team by implementing an AI chat-bot to provide scalable, high-quality mental health services to the refugee community and aid workers in Lebanon. But the task wasn’t that simple. Rendering effective mental health support entailed having an understanding of the relevant social dynamics, cultural challenges, and constraints, such as the need to circumvent public surveillance programs.
Participating in FIX gave the X2AI team direct access to test users each day, which enabled the team to iterate during overnight programming sessions to make the chat-bot respond to challenges and constraints more effectively. As a result, X2AI rapidly improved its product by making it significantly more effective for the refugee population, thereby opening up an entirely new market to serve.