© Morgana Wingard
22 Sep 16 13 Dec 19

The Sapling Nursery - grow your ideas

The Sapling Nursery is a fund to help you develop and test new approaches to field challenges.

You can apply for up to 50,000 Euro and six months to turn your ideas into a real way of improving MSF's impact in the field.

The fund is available to MSF OCA staff from all departments; both in the field and in headquarters. However, if your idea requires testing or collaboration with field staff or patients, you need to be in the field to apply, or to have a field team on board from the outset.

The deadline for Sapling Nursery proposals is July 29th, 2019.


What is innovation?

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For us, innovation means a new or different way of doing things that creates value or has an impact. This can be anything from a new product or service to a support function or model of care.

Previous projects have included (click the project names for details):

What we're looking for

Proposals are judged on the following criteria

  • Will your idea improve the care we provide or give people better access to care?
  • Is it an innovative new approach for MSF?
  • Could your idea scale? Could it improve the way we work in other projects or contexts?
  • Can you develop and test your idea within six months and a budget of 50,000 Euro?
  • Does your line manager support your proposal?
  • Does it need research ethics oversight? Check the Ethical Framework for Innovation  

We'll also judge your proposal on your ability to managage and present your project. Make sure your proposal is well-written and developed.

How can you spend the money?

If you are successful, you choose how to manage your project.

As long as your responsible and transparent, you can spend the funds on whatever makes your idea work. This can be materials, expertise, research, services and personnel.
We can support you with guidance and resources throughout the project.

When can you apply?

The 7th round of the Sapling Nursery will soon open. See below for key dates.

If you have applied, please make sure you make a note of the pitch day as you'll need to be available online.

  • June 26th 2019 to July 29th 2019 - Call for proposals opens
  • July 29th, 2019 - Proposal deadline
  • July 31st to August 12th 2019 - Proposals reviewed by Sapling Nursery Committee (interdisciplinary panel)
  • August 20th, 2019 - Pitch day for applicants with successful proposals (via skype or similar)
  • August 26th, 2019 - All applicants informed of committee decison

How do you apply?

When the 7th round opens, you will be able to submit your idea or project to the Sapling Nursery fund using on application - click the button below to see the application form template.


What support is available? 

We can:

  • mentor you if you want to discuss your idea before applying
  • put you in contact with people you may need to fulfill the project
  • suggest development and management tools 

If you can't start the project immediately, you can delay the start of the project by up to three months. This won't affect the six month limit.

There's a lot of competition for funding. If your proposal is not successful, you'll receive feedback from the selection committee. You can use this feedback to apply again in future rounds.

If you've any questions or want to discuss an idea, please email Louis Potter (louis.potter@stockholm.msf.org) in the MSF Sweden Innovation Unit.

© Luca Sola

 Read more  

Innovation: IV fluids for Land Cruisers >

Josie Gilday & Anup RaviNurse & Logistician

Lessons learned from previous projects

  • Define a clear problem: Your solution should then benefit our field operations and our patients
  • Seek to learn: projects that fail to learn or share lessons are failed projects 
  • Keep ethics in mind: check the Ethical Framework for Innovation to see if your project requires research ethics oversight 
  • Be prepared for failure: innovations can fall short of their ambitions
  • Good project management is key: make sure you have good project management techniques in place