Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...

Why Scale?

Adoption of an innovation at large scale maximises its potential for impact, yet many innovations struggle to scale up.

Innovators find that strategic and sustained effort to facilitate adoption is crucial to transform an effective innovation into a widespread humanitarian practice.

Since the launch of ‘Journey to Scale’ as an area of focus in 2016, Elrha has identified barriers and tactics that are critical to scaling humanitarian innovation, and through providing targeted funding, Elrha has supported successful innovations to increase their impact by progressing in their journey to scale.

What we do

  1. We identify challenges and barriers that stop many innovation projects from achieving scale within their organisation or being adopted by others.
  2. We support some of the most promising innovations and organisations with a package of grant funding, mentoring, and technical assistance to help them scale.
  3. We produce practical resources and guidance to help our grantees and the wider humanitarian community understand the best ways of scaling innovation projects.
  4. We collaborate with the sector to tackle the complex systemic barriers that need to be overcome if humanitarian innovation is going to achieve truly transformative change.

Journey to Scale

We introduced our ‘Journey to Scale’ work to support promising innovations to become scale-ready through a bespoke package of advice, tools and guidance.

This work started with an open funding call for scale-ready innovation projects. The most promising organisations and partnerships were invited to develop their scale strategy.

From there we chose three projects to support over the three years, providing each with £400,000 funding, along with additional mentoring and technical assistance.

This video summarises the first phase of our Journey to Scale work, where you can hear from the three innovations we supported.

Using a similar approach for a second ‘Journey to Scale’ cohort, in 2020 Elhra disbursed £2.8m (in total) to a further five innovations.  The video below details the work of these five partners, and what they have achieved through the Journey to Scale grant.

Play video

Watch all Journey to Scale videos.

Drawing on the experience across its Areas of Focus, and through the funding Journeys to Scale, we have identified barriers and tactics that are critical to scaling humanitarian innovation.

In 2018, we published Too Tough to Scale? Challenges to Scaling Innovation in the Humanitarian Sector.  The report identifies 13 barriers across five different challenge areas, and provides clear calls to action for different humanitarian actors to contribute to sector-wide transformative change.

Since then, we launched the Scaling Series of learning papers.   Each of these three papers addressed different aspects of the barriers to scale.

The first paper in the Scaling Series, Humanitarian Procurement: Challenges and Opportunities in the Adoption of WASH Product Innovations, focuses on the demand side for product innovations and the connection between supply and demand, particularly focusing on procurement.

The second paper, Impact Evidence and Beyond: Using Evidence to Drive Adoption of Humanitarian Innovations, provides guidance to humanitarian innovators on how to use evidence to enable and drive adoption of innovation.

The third paper, How to Scale: Tactics to Enable the Adoption of Humanitarian Innovations, provides a playbook of tactics for innovators who are aiming to scale through enabling other organisations to adopt their innovation.

Our Scale Tools & Research

Report Scale

How to scale: tactics to adopt humanitarian innovations

Report Scale

Impact Evidence and Beyond: Using Evidence to Drive Adoption of Humanitarian Innovations (Scaling Series)

Report Scale, Water, sanitation & hygiene

Humanitarian procurement: challenges and opportunities in the adoption of WASH product innovations

Report Innovation Management, Scale

Too Tough to Scale? Challenges to scaling innovation in the humanitarian sector

Tool Innovation Management, Scale

Progress to Scale Framework

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

Our Scale Blogs

Our series of blogs delves deeper and unpacks some of the most pressing barriers to scale highlighted in our 'Too tough to scale' report. In these blogs we explore the key challenges and how we can all work together to change them.

Read our Scale blogs

Our Journey to Scale Projects

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