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Japan SDGs Innovation Challenge

The Japan Cabinet Office (CAO), in partnership with the UNDP Japan Unit and UNDP Accelerator Labs, is supporting the SDGs Innovation Challenge to identify solutions to local development issues with the participation of the Japanese private sector.

The SDGs Innovation Challenge matches UNDP Accelerator Labs with Japanese companies in a new collaborative process where partners co-create solutions to address local needs.  Through the SDG Holistic Innovation Platform (SHIP), an open innovation platform run by UNDP in collaboration with the Japan Innovation Network (JIN), Japanese partners are identified, and this provides an entry point for companies that would typically not work with UNDP.  Both the Accelerator Labs and Japanese companies are identified through a selective process that grants $75,000 to the partnership.


A total of 7 UNDP Accelerator Labs are collaborating with Japanese companies to co-develop, design, and test models of potential solutions to problems identified in each country.  In 2020, an initial cohort of 4 Accelerator Labs was selected to work on global development issues across the SDGs, in close partnership with the Japanese private sector.  The winners are:

UNDP India & NEC Corporation: Building a Fortress of Blockchain to Protect Farmers and Livelihoods

The UNDP Accelerator Lab in India, together with the Japanese company NEC Corporation, is developing a proof of concept for a blockchain platform for spices. 

  • Learn more about this initiative here
  • or watch it here

UNDP Turkey and Sotonoba: How to collaborate on participatory design practices online and across countries

UNDP Accelerator Lab in Turkey, supported by the Japanese company Sotonoba, is focusing on developing a model to transform underutilized public spaces in a participatory manner.

  • Learn more about this initiative here, and the progress they've made here
  • or watch it here

UNDP Viet Nam and JAMSS: A circular economy approach to rising mountains of waste

UNDP Accelerator Lab in Viet Nam is working with JAMSS (Japan Manned Space System Corporation) on a feasibility study using remote sensing to identify plastic waste hotspots from satellite imageries to build a business model suitable to Viet Nam's market.

  • Learn more about this initiative here and the progress they've made here.  
  • or watch it here

UNDP Philippines and JAMSS: An Experiment on Satellite Remote Sensing of Plastic Waste in Pasig River

The Philippines UNDP Accelerator Lab is also working with JAMSS in a remote sensing model for marine litter in the river systems of Metro Manila.

  • Learn more about this initiative here
  • or watch it here

Based on the success of these projects, the Japan Cabinet Office renewed its support to these four countries to continue engagement with their respective Japanese partner.  Phase 2 grants total $40,000 per partnership.  In addition, the UNDP Accelerator Labs from South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Malaysia were selected as the second cohort of the Japan SDGs Innovation Challenge in 2021.  The areas they will address are food supply chains and disaster risk reduction. More information on these projects will be available here in 2022.

The SDGs innovation Challenge is made possible by an investment of $900,000 from the Japan Cabinet Office.  This joint initiative serves as a successful example of connecting technology and innovation from the private sector to different local contexts in developing countries to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.