Acute malnutrition in the urban context is a complex social challenge. Traditional approaches are not always effective, and globally there is a need to find new ways to tackle this problem. A challenge like this cannot be solved with a “silver bullet” in terms of one technology (e.g. polio vaccine), a new policy (healthcare for all) or even more money (double the budget). It requires a co-ordinated and systemic approach across a range of factors to create change and transformation.
For the lab project, Nesta developed an acute malnutrition prevention lab in urban Delhi with Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Our goal was to do three things:
- To try and find new and innovative ways, and combinations of ways, to tackle acute malnutrition by bringing multi-sector parties together – and to fund those solutions.
- To support a culture of collaboration, innovation and experimentation among the lab participants.
- To work with CIFF on a ‘learning while doing’ model of developing new partnerships for CIFF to fund, and supporting CIFF to come up with new ways of funding innovation.
Over the seven-month period from February until September 2019, Nesta worked with CIFF, as well as our partners Vihara in India and Humanonics Studio in Australia, to develop the Acute Malnutrition Prevention Lab. The consisted of two workshops/sprints (20-23 May and 24-26 June), with virtual lab support in between.
Lab attendees included people who work in malnutrition prevention, as well as people from academia, private enterprise, civil society and social innovators to answer the question: “What is the best combination of actors and interventions for a specific location to prevent acute malnutrition?”.
During the lab, Nesta developed an emerging type of lab approach which focused on a portfolio of solutions within the system rather than just single solutions.
Our view on how the innovation lab needs to change and adapt to take on “wicked problems” can be seen here with more information about how to run a similar lab here.
Our learnings and outcomes from the lab development can be found in our final report here.