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The Humanitarian Innovation Conference (HIP2014), taking place 19–20 July 2014, aims to provide a platform for discussion and debate of innovation in the humanitarian context


Welcome address, keynote address 1, plenary session 1

  • Welcome address by Professor Alexander Betts, RSC and HIP Director
  • Keynote address 1 by Alexander Aleinikoff, Deputy High Commissioner, UNHCR
  • Plenary session 1: 'Humanitarian innovation and the United Nations' (various speakers)

Welcome address, keynote address 2, plenary session 2

  • Welcome address by Professor Alexander Betts, RSC and HIP Director
  • Keynote address 2 by Ntakamaze Nziyonvira, CIYOTA
  • Plenary session 2: 'Investing in innovation: mobilising resources for change' (various speakers)

Plenary session 3: 'Humanitarian enterprise: a new approach to private sector engagement' (various speakers)


About the conference

The emerging trend of ‘humanitarian innovation’ has captured the minds and practices of humanitarian actors across the globe. Seeking to draw upon ideas traditionally used in the private sector to improve the responses in emergencies, protracted crises and post-conflict recovery, humanitarians have turned to innovation for solutions to critical challenges in the field. 

Current debate has begun to document examples of ad hoc innovation in practice; however there is a need to develop a common language and greater conceptual clarity as a starting point for moving forward in the dialogue and debate. The conference aims to provide a platform for discussion and debate, bringing together actors from UN agencies, NGOs, academia, and both the public and private sectors. By convening these discussions, the agenda for humanitarian innovation will be further defined.

With over 190 confirmed delegates, the conference will be held on Saturday 19 July and Sunday 20 July at Keble College in Oxford.

Confirmed speakers

  • Erik Abild, Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Alexander Aleinikoff, Deputy High Commissioner, UNHCR
  • Andy Bastable, Oxfam GB
  • Sasha Chanoff, RefugePoint
  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Stanford University
  • Julia Stewart-David, European Commission
  • Olivier Delarue, UNHCR Innovation
  • Pamela Hartigan, Skoll Centre, University of Oxford
  • Simone Levine, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • Myles Lock, UN Foundation
  • Joanna Macrae, Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Hilda Moraa, iHub Nairobi
  • Moses Musaazi, Technology for Tomorrow (T4T)
  • Nuno Nunes, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Kim Scriven, Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF)
  • Hugo Slim, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford
  • Don Weinreich, Ennead Architects 

Panels and discussions

We invited individual paper proposals, full panel proposal, and suggestions for alternative format (eg film, debate, demonstration) sessions from academics, policymakers and practitioners on five core themes:

1. Definitions and Frameworks for Humanitarian Innovation

The HI debate is still emerging and embryonic. Discussion and reflection remains needed on definitions of HI as well as appropriate analytical frameworks for understanding the boundaries and scope of the concept. Such contributions might, for example, engage with the management theory and innovation literatures in order to offer new theoretical direction to the current discussions.

2. Improving Organisational Responses

Papers may reflect on the range of best practices of innovation that have emerged within and across organisations. How have particular organisations developed new ideas and partnerships, adapted organisational processes, fostered new partnerships, built innovation labs, or begun to develop new funding mechanisms for innovation. What innovation practices are emerging in the major UN organisations and humanitarian NGOs.

3. 'Bottom-up' Approaches to Innovation

One of the most neglected and challenging areas of the current debate, is how to foster the skills, talents, and aspirations of so-called 'beneficiary populations'. Papers might begin to reflect on ways in which affected communities have been drawn into innovation models in ways that include a role for the agency of, for example, displaced populations to engage in strategies of self-reliance or self-protection.

4. New Directions within Humanitarian Work

Papers might also reflect on new products and processes that are emerging within the humanitarian sector. What trends and best practices are present? What is at the cutting edge of the area and how transformative can it be? How might cash transfers, insurance, crisis-mapping, new forms of humanitarian finance, big data analytics, two-way communication systems, remote sensing, or drones, for instance, transform the humanitarian landscape?

5. Critical Approaches to Humanitarian Innovation

We also welcome critical academic reflection on trends within humanitarian innovation. What structural factors are driving humanitarian innovation and with what consequences? On a normative level, how can we begin to assess emerging trends in humanitarian innovation and the changing role of private actors within humanitarian sectors? How do the emerging trends fit within a broader historical context?


Set at Keble College, in the heart of the historic town and the University of Oxford, this scenic home to world renowned academics provides an ideal setting for this debate. Several conference rooms and accommodation will be available and dinner will be hosted in the historic hall of the college.

About Keble College >>


Registration for the conference is now closed. Join discussions in the run-up to the conference and during the event by following us on Twitter @HiProjectOx and using the hashtag #HIP2014


For any enquiries about this conference, please contact:

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 281737


HIP2014 Programme


The Humanitarian Innovation Project undertakes research on the role of technology, innovation and the private sector in refugee assistance. 

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

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