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HELiX 2021

It is heartening and exciting that even with the pandemic complicating travel and communications everywhere, the spirit of cooperation and eagerness for learning and exchange remains undimmed worldwide. In this spirit and with the aim of capturing new and emerging innovations in the field of humanitarian logistics, provoking insights and constructive discussions, as well as being a convergence between innovators and potential users, the first Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) was held virtually from 24 to 25 May 2021.

The event was successfully organised by the AHA Centre in cooperation with the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA). HELiX, the first such event held by the AHA Centre, is a testament to the flexibility and resilience of the AHA Centre and VNDMA staff who worked diligently to prepare the expo, especially as the pandemic necessitated its adaptation into an online setting. HELiX is also aimed at capturing new and emerging innovations in the field of humanitarian logistics, provoking insights and constructive discussions as well as to be a convergence between innovators and potential users. Furthermore, HELiX was a welcome step, in the AHA Centre’s 10th anniversary year, in its journey towards becoming the premier regional disaster response authority in the region.

Executive Director of the Logistics Institute Asia-Pacific Dr. Robert de Souza, concluded his opening keynote speech on the Futures of Humanitarian Logistics by wishing HELiX success, noting that “[HELiX] brings all of us together to solve the problems that need to be solved, and to focus upon supply chain management, which was understated before, but is now brought to the fore.”

Supporting the points made in the earlier keynote speech, Executive Director of the AHA Centre Ms. Adelina Kamal emphasised during her introduction to the event the importance of a true desire to solve problems and to fulfill needs in driving innovation in order to achieve fit-for-purpose and sustainability. The context of the ASEAN region as a disaster-prone area should drive the region forward as leaders and pioneers in humanitarian innovation. “Therefore, let’s use HELIX sessions as the platform for convergence of innovative minds and ideas, that transcend and transform the way we do things in humanitarian logistics,” said Ms. Adelina.

Moreover, knowledge, engagement and collaboration are essential in actualising and executing the innovative ideas. In this regard, HELIX supported by Temasek Foundation, the UPS Foundation and Angel Investment Network Indonesia (ANGIN) successfully united almost 100 diverse speakers from humanitarian logistics actors and institutions, who ranged from academia and NDMOs to government and intergovernmental organisations, as well as from the private sector. They delivered 21 focus session talks and two keynote speeches in the plenary sessions. Some 21 companies and institutions took part in the virtual international exhibition along with almost 1,000 attendees in total from around the world.

What sort of innovations and ideas were in play? HELiX covered a wide array of topics and issues in the entirety of the humanitarian logistics field. There were innovations within the classic issue of capacity building, with solutions and experiences presented by the IFRC, ICRC and HELP Logistics. Gender and inclusion, an important aspect of humanitarian logistics, was emphasised in the session hosted by UN Women and UNFPA. Similarly, customs procedures in the context of delivering humanitarian aid were also discussed by the IMPACCT Working Group and the Humanitarian Logistics Association. There were also insights on new emerging technology related to data science, mapping and crowd-sourced apps in the sessions by Yayasan PetaBencana and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, and the exhibits by UN Pulse Labs Jakarta and the Thai Red Cross. Youth involvement and participation was the focus in a session hosted by the Philippine National Youth Commission and the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth.

The important participation of new emerging innovators and technology could also be seen in one of the most interesting events in HELiX: the iPitch competition, where teams of innovators pitched their innovative projects to win prizes and advisory by experts. Winners of this competition were the Fleet for Emergency integrated platform by FleetHelp from Indonesia, the THINKLog supply chain management game by the TLIAP-GO team from NUS and the Padayon donation-matching app by the Asian Institute of Management from the Philippines.

Looking ahead, important lessons can be drawn from the success of HELiX. Moreover, HELiX could not have been successful without the participation and support of the partners of the AHA Centre, thus making clear the importance of cooperation, engagement and effective communication among humanitarian actors, academia, experts, etc.


In the near future HELiX will be followed by the AHAckathon hacking competition in October – a hacking competition aimed at students looking to contribute innovative ideas through programming and app creation. Stay tuned for further updates on this upcoming part of HELiX.



Written by : Yohanes Paulus, DELSA Intern | Photo Credit: AHA Centre