Humanitarian Innovation Project

The Humanitarian Innovation Project (HIP) is housed within the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford and focuses specifically on the refugee context.

HIP’s aim is to research the role of innovation, technology and the private sector in refugee assistance. Its guiding ethos is a focus on ‘bottom-up’ innovation by refugees themselves, examining ways in which refugees’ own skills, aspirations and entrepreneurship offer opportunities for more sustainable approaches to refugee assistance. The project has undertaken extensive research in Africa on the economic lives of refugees, showing how recognising refugees’ existing market-based activities offers the potential to promote greater self-reliance. The project aims to make both an academic and a practical contribution, partnering with a range of international organisations, NGOs, governments, businesses, universities and community-based organisations. Beyond its initial refugee focus, it seeks to play an active convening role within the emerging debate on humanitarian innovation.


Recent/forthcoming HIP publications

Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art [forthcoming]
Alexander Betts and Louise Bloom (2014), OCHA Occasional Policy Paper Series

Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions
Alexander Betts et al (2014), Humanitarian Innovation Project


The Humanitarian Innovation Conference held in Oxford in July 2014 brought together over 200 people from across the humanitarian ecosystem – including governments, international organisations, NGOs, businesses, community-based organisations and universities – who might not often have the opportunity to engage in conversation and dialogue with each other.

Over two days, participants worked to develop a common language and a collective understanding of the role of humanitarian innovation in improving responses in emergencies, protracted crises and post-conflict recovery. Panels and audiences debated the emergence of best practices of innovation within and across organisations and sectors, and reflected on ways to more effectively include affected communities in current innovation models.

To read the conference report and selected conference papers, access digital & PPT presentations from selected panel speakers, and watch videos from the conference, visit


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