22 Sep 16 18 Nov 16

MSF OCA Sapling Nursery innovation process

The MSF OCA Sapling Nursery is a funding stream for disruptive and field-driven innovation projects.

The aim of the Sapling Nursery is to encourage and support innovation in the field by creating safe spaces to pilot and evaluate innovations.  

We are looking to support proposals for technological innovations that have the potential to significantly improve MSF field operations.

Our definition of innovation

Innovation includes something new or a different way of doing things,that gets implemented and creates value or has impact.

Or, put more simply, it is something new that is useful.

You can read more about the OCA approach to innovation here.

What we are looking for in proposals 

All topic areas will be considered. The key is a clearly defined problem where a solution would make a large difference to our field operations and, ultimately, our patients.

This funding stream is more suited to technological innovation projects. It is not suitable for research proposals.

Examples of successful applications from the previous round of funding are:

Key criteria

  • What impact would this have if successful?
  • How novel is this approach?
  • How generalisable or scalable is this approach for other projects?
  • Is the broad management budget and time frame (maximum six months) feasible?
  • Maximum budget 50,000 Euros
  • Timeline should be less than six months

The assessment process

  1. Proposals will be reviewed by an OCA committee
  2. Successful proposals will be invited to pitch their idea to the committee
  4. What support will be available? 

Sometimes the people with the ideas of the field needs, or a potential solution, may not be the best placed to project manage the innovation, either due to time commitments or experience with project management.

Project management support can be included in the budget, or advice on project management resources can be sought.

All proposals are expected to have the support of the person’s line manager for the application. 

Lessons we’ve learned from fostering innovation 

Be prepared for failure – most innovation will fall short of its ambitions and of making an improvement

Good Project management is key – ensure you have good project management techniques in place

Define a clear problem – can you simply assess whether the project is a success or not?

Seek to learn –  the project that fails to learn and share those lessons is a failed project 

Keep ethics in mind – see the Ethical Framework for Innovation to know when a project requires research ethics oversight 

The next round of funding…

The below is a guide timeline for the next round of funding. Please make sure you are available for the dates, in particular the pitch meeting in mid-November.

End-September                           Call for proposals

End-October                                Close call for proposals

Early-November                          Submission reviewed by committee of OCA innovation specialists

Mid-November                            Successful applicants are invited to pitch their proposal to the committee (either Tuesday 15th or Friday 18th November)

End-November                            Successful proposals are contacted 

submit a proposal