Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees and the IRC’s Signpost Initiative: Revolutionising Humanitarian Aid

Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees and the IRC’s Signpost Initiative: Revolutionising Humanitarian Aid

In March 2024, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Signpost initiative won the inaugural European Prize for Humanitarian Innovation (InnovAid). Supported in part by Yuri Milner’s non-profit Tech For Refugees, the initiative has helped nearly 80 million people access vital information through digital tools. Founded in 2022, Tech For Refugees supports refugee relief efforts that leverage technology. The non-profit partners with (and funds) major tech companies, like Uber and Spotify, and charitable organisations, like UNICEF and the IRC, to help refugees and internally displaced people worldwide.

Signpost’s Far-Reaching Impact

The IRC launched Signpost nearly 10 years ago at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. The initiative creates digital help centres to empower people whose lives have been affected by conflict, poverty, and disaster. Motivated by community needs, these help centres enable clients to access essential services and make informed decisions on critical issues. Signpost users can access important information through a network of websites, social media channels, and chat apps. This network also allows for two-way communication between users and teams of local community liaisons. In turn, the trends in questions that users ask Signpost’s teams drive further research and content creation. The IRC tailors each Signpost programme to its specific location and context. This way, Signpost meets users on the digital channels they already use and in their own languages. Since 2015, Signpost has reached 79 million people across 20 countries with information products in 25 languages. In 2023, Signpost’s efforts earned the initiative a Connect award at the United Nations SDG Action Awards in Rome. The award recognised Signpost’s work in helping and empowering displaced people with prompt, accurate, and often life-saving information. The IRC has now received a second prestigious award: the first-ever InnovAid prize from the European Innovation Council (under Horizon Europe). This prize honours the efforts of humanitarian organisations, social enterprises, and companies that create technology to help people impacted by man-made crises and natural hazards.

Support From Tech For Refugees

Signpost’s philosophy is to make “effective, easy to use, safe, and scalable technology from existing tech.?” The initiative partners with leading organisations like Meta, Zendesk, and Google.org to bring cutting-edge technology to the aid sector. In February 2023, Tech For Refugees announced its multi-year commitment to support the IRC’s humanitarian efforts, enabling Signpost’s expansion. The three-year commitment is helping the adoption of Signpost in 10 locations in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East. Yuri Milner said at the announcement: “The scale of today’s refugee crisis requires innovative ideas. Tech For Refugees is honoured to collaborate with the IRC to bring sophisticated technological tools that can support millions of people as they try to rebuild their lives.” Tech For Refugees continues to seek new tech-driven humanitarian programmes to fund. The initiative encourages technology companies and non-profits interested in contributing to the cause to consider becoming a Tech For Refugees partner.

About Yuri Milner

A tech investor and prolific science philanthropist, Yuri Milner began his career as a theoretical physicist before he moved to the U.S. to study business. He has established the successful tech investment company DST Global, and signed the Giving Pledge. Milner is a co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize, the world’s largest life sciences, fundamental physics, and mathematics awards. From here, he created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which encourages students to compete for their own science award. He also founded the Breakthrough Initiatives, space science programmes looking for answers to the mysteries of life in the Universe. In 2021, Milner published Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation. The short book discusses human civilisation in the context of the history of the cosmos and argues that we must embrace a shared mission to explore and understand our Universe. Eureka Manifesto is free to read online.

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