Innovation Research

Curiosity-led and open-ended research

Our vision

UNHCR’s  Innovation Service believes in building a more robust, yet nuanced, understanding of innovation, one that moves away from tech-centric models that are often associated with new approaches to humanitarian aid, and which acknowledges that innovation is a product of social, economic and political structures.

Innovation Research is curiosity-led and open-ended in nature, using thematic explorations as the means to deepen or challenge the current understanding of humanitarian innovation and stay abreast of emergent trends and practices in the field of humanitarian innovation.

Our approach

The research work stream provides a thoughtful reading and interpretation of the current and future state of humanitarian affairs, making space for  reflection and a multiplicity of views and perspectives, This work carves out a space for research to not only to ‘inform’ and understand innovation better but also to be a place to experiment with methodologies, knowledge, disciplines and ideas.

The goals of innovation research are:


To peek into unknowns and the future – or futures – of UNHCR’s work by identifying knowledge gaps and ’blind spots’ and look at emerging practices and innovation ‘bright spots’


To offer new perspectives and insights to contribute to the re-discovery and re-interpretation of topics relevant to the organization, and reframe understanding on current work and practices;


To provide a blueprint for creative and systematic ways to strategically increase the depth of knowledge on innovation and investigate applications of new knowledge to the context of innovation and forced displacement.


A collection of research, insights, and innovations from the field at the crossroads of displacement and connectivity to learn how UNHCR navigates challenges and how refugees move in a shared digital space.


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