Northwest Speaker Series: Innovation

July 1, 2015

Dr. Sharad Sapra spoke to the NW community about Innovation.

The Northwest Region hosted Dr. Sharad Sapra, Director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center, on Monday, May 18th at the San Francisco City Club. The conversation was moderated by Terra Weikel, UNICEF Innovation Partnerships Specialist. The Speaker Series educates the civic and philanthropic community on various areas of UNICEF’s work. Each event focuses on a different topic with a discussion led by a UNICEF staff member, who’s an expert in the field.

Throughout the discussion, Dr. Sapra spoke about the role of UNICEF’s Innovation team to bring people (rather than problems) together. Dr. Sapra’s goal is for each of UNICEF’s eight global innovation labs to hone in on and deploy the best solutions to localized challenges. Through the Center, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and through a network of partners locally and labs globally, his aim is to find solutions to stumbling blocks in delivering services, reducing inequities, and achieving results for children. Successful solutions can be adopted and adapted by others and scaled to address the most pressing challenges around the globe.

Dr. Sapra recognizes that the development challenges of old are not the same as the challenges of today. He believes that while the past decades have been more about “for the people”, the advances in technology allows us to focus more on egalitarian solutions that are “of and by the people.” These new challenges focus on last mile delivery services and many of them involve fields that traditional development professionals might not have a deep background in: mastering logistics, improving skills and infrastructure in order to support the proper management of people and other resources, and getting actionable and real-time information to the places where decisions are made. Dr. Sapra believes this is the key reason behind the importance of bringing together a variety of people with varying backgrounds uses it to guide the UNICEF Innovation Center.

For more questions about this event and upcoming Speaker Series Luncheons please contact Shirmila Cooray scooray@unicefusa.org