It has been a little quiet around the WDCD Refugee Challenge, lately. But that doesn’t mean nothing has happened behind the scenes. In fact, the five finalist teams have been working very hard, together with specialist mentors and advisors, on the development of their projects. In a grand finale on 7 March in Amsterdam, the five teams will present their business cases to a panel of experts, marking the official closure of the Refugee Challenge.

In the WDCD Refugee Challege the challenge partners UNHCR, IKEA Foundation and WDCD asked the international design community for game changing ideas to help improve the reception and integration of refugees. Out of 631 entries from 70 countries 25 nominees and eventually five finalists were chosen.

After being selected as finalist of the Refugee Challenge in July, the five teams – AGRIShelter, Eat&Meat, Makers Unite, Reframe Refugees and The Welcome Card – entered the Accelerator phase. With the help of experts on humanitarian matters, research & prototyping, design, marketing & communication, legal matters and business development, the teams discussed and elaborated their plans.

Democratic design

A special event for all teams occurred late in November, when they were invited to IKEA’s democratic design centre in Älmhult, Sweden, to discuss their projects further with experts of the Swedish furniture chain. ‘While being in such a motivating atmosphere, I received great advice for further developments of the project in various fields, including technical issues, business plan and defining scope of the design,’ Narges Mofarahian of AGRIshelter said afterwards.

‘The insightful experience of IKEA’s experts met our project challenges with a positive outcome, where after our initial presentation, we discussed in depth and analysed each component of the Welcome Card,’ Veronica Polinedrio wrote after the Welcome Card team’s session. And Marie-Louise Diekema of Reframe Refugees reported: ‘With an inspired mind and new insights on Reframe, we left Älmhult to go back to Amsterdam.’

Grand finale

The coming days we will report here more in detail on the progress of the individual teams as we are working towards the grand finale on 7 March in Amsterdam. For an invited audience the five teams will pitch their business cases before a panel of experts, while two keynote speakers will give their vision on humanitarian innovation. Keep an eye on our website and this blog for more details.

Top image: IKEA’s Democratic design Center in Älmhult (photo by AGRIshelter team)

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