From drawing board to market entry: ideas from the Innovation Fund

The final of GIZ’s second innovation competition is about to take place. The winners from the first round are one step further and already celebrating their initial results.

Dare to experiment, develop ideas, think digitally – these are the goals of the Innovation Fund, a company-wide ideas competition run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Teams made up of both GIZ staff and external partners are invited to take part and generate new impetus. Over 120 ideas were submitted in the second round in 2018. Six of these were selected for the next phase, in which the teams had seven months to develop a minimum viable product – the first functioning version of their product or service. The aim is to improve the use of digital ideas in development cooperation.

A look back at the first round of the Innovation Fund in 2017 shows just how far an idea can go. Take for example TheIntegrityApp, which was created to help small and medium-sized enterprises protect themselves better against corruption. Companies can self-evaluate their compliance standards by answering a few questions on the mobile platform. If they need to make improvements, the app can take them straight to a platform where they will find information and tips on guarding against risk. Around 1,000 companies have used the app since it was launched in November 2017. A modified version has also been produced for the public sector in Brazil, and over 150 authorities have already made use of it.

Another winner of the Innovation Fund 2017, Groots, developed an innovative idea for gathering data in rural areas. Groots designed an app that local stakeholders in rural areas can use to share knowledge from their region that would otherwise be difficult to record. For example, information uploaded about energy supplies in remote areas can show if there is any demand for solar energy systems. The customers – public sector stakeholders and private companies – can identify target groups and use the analysed data to plan, implement and evaluate projects. The data providers, mostly well-connected shop owners, are guaranteed complete transparency about the use of their data and can also market their knowledge. What started as a rough prototype in the Innovation Fund 2017 for recording diesel prices on Thai islands is now about to become an independent start-up. Groots worked with Toyota on a pilot project to gather data about actual petrol consumption with the support of car drivers.

The participants in the second round are gearing up for the final. The six teams chosen to develop their ideas will present the results of all their work over the last seven months on 22 May. You can follow the event here on the live video stream.

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