News & Analysis

InnovationXchange partners with USAID to establish LAUNCH Food innovation challenge

- September 27, 2016 2 MIN READ

InnovationXchange, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) initiative established to spur innovation across Australia’s aid program, has partnered with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to set up LAUNCH Food, a challenge aiming to uncover solutions to improve global health outcomes through better nutrition.

The challenge looks to address the challenge posed by the globalisation of the world’s food supply, which is changing the way people act and eat, resulting in impaired development, non-communicable diseases, and avoidable deaths coming out of both undernutrition and overnutrition, particularly in lower income countries.

According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, undernutrition now accounts for 11 percent of the global burden of disease and is the number one risk to health worldwide, while at the same time one in three adults is overweight, and one in 10 obese.

Part of the wider LAUNCH innovation platform, launched USAID, NASA, the US Department of State, and Nike in 2009, the LAUNCH Food challenge wants to identify innovations that have the potential to transform food and nutrition systems worldwide.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, “In our region, in our part of the world, about half the children in countries close to Australia, a first world developed economy, half the children are suffering the effects of undernutrition. Paradoxically, obesity leading to chronic disease burden is at epidemic levels. For the first time we have a generation that has a shorter lifespan than the previous generation. This cannot continue.”

The challenge is looking for solutions across both the production and consumption of food, such as increasing the accessibility and affordability of nutritious food through improved agricultural practices and supply chain management, and education, incentivisation, and empowerment programs to help reinforce and reward healthy food choices and habits.

Proposals submitted will be reviewed by government organisations, industry experts, and investors, with the winning proposals to receive assistance with developing their solution.

Since its establishment, LAUNCH has funded over 77 innovations to solve problems across areas including health, energy, waste, materials, and water.

Other challenges currently being run by LAUNCH include LAUNCH Nordic, looking to create new closed loop solutions and recycling technologies, and a Chemistry Innovation Challenge looking to enable predictive design through new applications of data in chemistry.

Established in March last year with $140 million in funding over four years, meanwhile, InnovationXchange aims to help DFAT become more “creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative” in its design and delivery of Australia’s aid program, with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

Current innovations being worked on by InnovationXchange include Hamutuk, a development program in Timor-Leste looking to address the problem of malnutrition, causing half of all children under the age of five to be stunted in height.

InnovationXchange is also running a Humanitarian Supplies Challenge, seeking to find new products and solutions to ameliorate humanitarian response after disasters.

You can learn more about LAUNCH Food here.

Image: Julie Bishop. Source: Twitter.