Scaling Up in Silicon Valley to Disrupt Global Hunger

World Food Programme
Published September 24, 2019

In October 2019, WFP Innovation Accelerator will take place in Silicon Valley for the first time! Accelerator facilitators will meet innovation scale-up teams at Google Headquarters in San Francisco, California, and run them through intensive bootcamp experiences and sprint processes designed to help them rethink their problem sets, hone their ideas, and develop viable solutions to address global hunger needs.

Scale ups are advanced stage innovations that have already proven their project concepts. They will participate in a three-day bootcamp in preparation to expand their potential to scale globally and connect with Silicon Valley experts. Our collaborating corporate partners provide real-world expertise ranging from management and marketing to user-centricity, or production optimization to last-mile delivery.

Meet the Scale-Up Projects

1. ShareTheMeal is WFP’s fundraising app, allowing smartphone users to provide children with vital nutrition with a simple tap on their phones. It costs $0.50 to feed one child for a day. Free to download, the award-winning app is a pioneering way for people to join WFP’s efforts in creating a world with zero hunger. To date, the 1.5 million member strong ShareTheMeal community has shared over 43 million meals with those most in need.

2. H2Grow hydroponics project is a no-soil, water-efficient solution that allows people affected by hunger to grow their own fresh food in harsh desert environments. By developing low-tech systems from local materials, sprouting fresh vegetables or animal fodder in deserts, refugee camps or urban slums, H2Grow supports food-insecure families and has been implemented in seven countries. In Algeria, 200 hydroponic units are producing fodder, boosting the milk and meat production of goats. In Chad, 148 units were installed in 2018, supporting Sudanese refugees in the Sahel. A digital H2Grow platform has been developed with participants and provides access to easy how-to guides.

3. PLUS School Menus is online software that, through an advanced mathematical algorithm, calculates the most cost-effective school feeding menus that respect the nutritional requirements of children of different age groups, ensure dietary diversity and optimize impact on local economies through local procurement, with a particular focus on purchasing options from local small-scale farmers. The tool simplifies the decision-making process resulting in more nutritious, more efficient programming for children. PLUS School Menus received the WFP Innovation Challenge Award in 2018.

4. EMPACT puts job opportunities in the global digital economy within reach of young adults affected by war in Syria and of food-insecure host communities. Tailored digital training courses provide hard (e.g. data cleaning, picture tagging) and soft skills that help bridge the gap between poverty and a new career in a globalized job market. Together with a network of forward-thinking private sector companies, WFP has trained more than 3,800 refugees, displaced or vulnerable local communities in Lebanon, Iraq and Kenya. Close to 50 percent of the graduates are women.

5. PRISM/VAMPIRE is a platform for risk reduction in climate related disaster response. It collects and analyzes data to identify critical hotspots by combining Earth Observation data with real-time information on the ground. The platform provides key information on climate risk and population vulnerability before, during and after climate events such as drought or flooding. In doing so, it enables authorities to initiate cross-sectional collaboration for disaster preparedness and coordination between WFP and local government agencies to protect the livelihoods of those most impacted by climate change and ultimately to save lives.

Pitch Night

Once they’ve honed their ideas, these scale ups will then showcase their ideas to one of the largest pools of international investors, corporate decision-makers from the Silicon Valley community that we have ever engaged! The goal isn’t to out compete each other; it’s to resource transformative projects that will change how we address hunger and humanitarian assistance.

Follow WFP USA on YouTube to watch the event stream live on Oct. 15, 2019 at 7p.m. PST. Visit the Innovation Accelerator hub page to learn more.