What we do


Our approach

Our approach has three additional characteristics. These, we believe, make us worthy of your particular attention. At the MSF Japan Innovation Unit, we:

  • 1. Substantially prioritise your problem analysis.
  • 2. Reflect critically on humanitarian innovation practice, and share our thoughts for wider discussion.
  • 3. Specialise in four specific areas of humanitarian innovation.

Problem Analysis

We prioritise working with you to deepen and refine your understanding of whatever challenge you identify. We are trained and experienced with a wide range of tools for this purpose. We do this because it is easy to propose exciting but too often unrealistic ideas when the nature of a problem is not thoroughly investigated. As our shared analysis of your problem sharpens, and as we together shed light on the various limitations you have to work within, proposing solutions becomes harder. But it also becomes far more productive.

Critical reflection

The MSF Japan Innovation Unit takes a more critical attitude to innovation than most innovators do. Our work is informed by our own reflections, and those of other opinion leaders in our network, on the practical and ethical challenges confronting innovation in humanitarian work. We believe this makes our design processes and solutions better, and gives us a more powerful voice in the wider humanitarian innovation community.


“Humanitarian innovation” covers a wide range of activities, technologies, theories, and more. But the opportunities and risks of innovating change according to political context, technology, collaboration partner, and much more besides. In recognition of this variation, the MSF Japan Innovation Unit focuses on four specific areas of innovation. We chose these based on our own our particular expertise and the comparative advantages that stem from our location in Tokyo: