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Scaling humanitarian innovation remains a critical challenge for the global humanitarian community.

Too often promising innovations fail to gain traction and wider uptake. This means work and resources are wasted, and great ideas don’t reach their full potential. In a resource-constrained sector, there is a need to generate greater impact from investments in innovation.

In direct response to this challenge, we are launching the second round of Journey to Scale.

Journey to Scale

Journey to Scale (J2S) is aimed at humanitarian innovators who have successfully piloted their solution in at least one humanitarian setting and are now looking to scale up its impact.

Journey to Scale will provide initial support for ten shortlisted teams to develop scaling strategies for their innovations.

We will then award five teams with the strongest proposals flexible funding of up to 580,000 GBP each to explore different scale pathways and refine their approach.

Overview of the process

J2S includes two phases: Strategy Development and Strategy Implementation.

Phase 1: Strategy Development (May – September 2020)

Following an open application process, ten innovation teams will be selected to take part in the Strategy Development phase. The teams will receive mentoring and support to develop a comprehensive scaling vision and strategy. At the end of the Strategy Development phase, we will bring the teams together for a workshop to learn from each other and to finalise their scaling strategies. Up to 10,000 GBP will be available to each team to support this phase.

Phase 2: Strategy Implementation (December 2020 – 2023)

At the end of the Strategy Development phase, the ten teams will be invited to submit their Phase 2 proposal, including their scaling strategy. The five strongest proposals will progress to the Strategy Implementation phase, receiving up to 580,000 GBP each in grant funding.

In addition to financial support, we will also offer one-to-one mentorship for each team throughout the grant period, as well as workshops to strengthen their scaling capacity, further opportunities for peer learning through the grantee cohort, and access to our network of former grantees and humanitarian partners.


For further information about Journey to Scale, the application and evaluation process and timelines, please read the J2S handbook.

Sandra, a young survivor, performs the powerful music she and her peers co-wrote during a Healing in Harmony community concert (from our first round of Journey to Scale funding). Photo Credit: Jeppe Schilder.

J2S Webinar

We will be hosting an optional webinar for those interested in applying to J2S on 27 January 2020, 13:00-14:00 GMT.

Sign up to our webinar here.

The webinar will discuss the overall structure of J2S, the evaluation criteria and support package offered.

The webinar will be recorded and available on our website.


How do I apply?

To apply for J2S, complete the Phase 1 application via our Common Grant Application platform.


Who is eligible to apply for J2S?

To be eligible to apply to J2S:

  • Your organisation must be a legally registered entity (ie, academic/research institute, government, international non-governmental organisation, national non-governmental organisation, private company, Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, United Nations agency or programme, or civil society organisation).
  • Your application must be from a single organisation, rather than from a partnership between two or more organisations. We encourage this to ensure that there is clarity over the ownership of the innovation and that teams have the flexibility to explore diverse partnerships throughout their scaling journey.
  • Your innovation must address a challenge from one or across multiple sector(s) of humanitarian action. It can involve either directly empowering or supporting people affected by crises or providing services to other humanitarian actors.
  • Your innovation must have been piloted in at least one humanitarian setting. This might include, but is not limited to, a rapid-onset disaster, slow-onset disaster, or conflict or protracted displacement situation.
  • Your innovation must have undergone an independent evaluation of its effectiveness.
  • If your team is part of a larger organisation, you must have agreement from leadership to explore different pathways to scale, including potential uptake of your innovation by other organisations.
  • You must not have previously received funding in the first round of J2S.
  • Your team must be able to attend the Strategy Development workshop (two to three team members), taking place 8–10 September 2020, plus a day of travel time on either side. The location of the workshop will be confirmed at a later date.

For further information about eligibility requirements and success criteria, see J2S handbook.

Are you looking for innovations in specific humanitarian domains?

No. We welcome applications of innovations that address challenges in any sector(s) of humanitarian action. Innovations can involve either directly empowering or supporting people affected by crises, or providing services to other humanitarian actors.

What can and can’t be covered by the grant funding?

We can fund

  • implementation costs (including shipment) and project activities
  • material costs (ie, the production or development of the innovation)
  • innovation adaptation costs (ie, costs associated with any iterations informed by the research)
  • staff salaries
  • travel expenses.

We can’t fund

  • retrospective costs
  • loan repayments
  • non-project-related materials or activities
  • standard humanitarian programming that is not related to the chosen innovation
  • construction of permanent structures.


What are the key milestones for J2S?

J2S will launch on 13 January 2020 with Phase 1 applications opening on this date.

There will be an optional webinar (sign-up here) for interested applicants on 27 January 2020, 13:00-14:00 GMT. The webinar will discuss the overall structure of J2S, the evaluation criteria and support package offered. The webinar will be recorded and available on this website.

The deadline for Phase 1 applications is 14 February 2020, 23:59 GMT.

The ten teams selected to join the Strategy Development phase of J2S will be announced in late April 2020.

Phase 2 applications will be open from 1 September to 28 September 2020. The five selected teams will undergo final due diligence and contracting in November 2020 and will start implementing their scaling strategies in December 2020.

For further information about the structure of J2S and key milestones, see J2S Handbook

How will applications be assessed?

Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  1. A well-understood problem
  2. An impactful solution
  3. Readiness for J2S
  4. The right team for scaling
  5. Relevant partners and networks

For a detailed explanation of each criterion and an overview of the application and evaluation process, please read the J2S handbook.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. For any questions that are not covered by the J2S Handbook or this FAQ section, please email us at hif@elrha.org, referencing ‘Journey to Scale’ in the subject line.

Helpful Tools & Research

Tool Innovation Management

Humanitarian Innovation Guide

Video Capacity Development, Gender-based Violence, Information Management, Communication & Technology, Innovation Management, Scale

The full Journey to Scale story

Tool Innovation Management, Scale

Progress to Scale Framework

Read our Too Tough to Scale Report

Drawing from our own experience in funding over 150 humanitarian organisations to develop, test and scale many highly impactful innovations, and drawing on research and experience from the social and development sectors, Too tough to scale? identifies 13 key barriers across five different challenge areas.

Too Tough to Scale?

Relevant Projects

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