Durham startup NeedsList wins $1M grant from Google to scale crisis response software

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NeedsList will receive a $1 million grant and a team of a half-dozen software engineers from Google.org to assist the mission-driven, Durham-headquartered startup scale a free and public version of the firm’s crisis response software.

The company announced the grant in a statement earlier today, as did Google.  According to the statement, shared with WRAL TechWire, the engineers, a part of the Google.org Fellowship, will work full-time and at no cost to the startup company to “address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and bordering countries.”

The firm’s software, RespondLocal, was designed to assist faster, more sustainable humanitarian action, the company statement notes.

“With displacement at an all-time high and continuing to climb, the humanitarian sector needs innovative solutions to support more efficiency in aid, especially at the local level,” said Natasha Freidus, NeedsList’s CEO, in a statement. “Local organizations consistently do most of the work on the ground before, during, and after crises, but historically have received very little funding or support from the international community.”

That was the original idea behind the company: provide support to local organizations that are doing work on the ground.

“Over the past six years we have co-created a tool with these organizations that they can use to amplify their needs and to have them matched to available resources,” said Freidus.


NeedsList launched on World Refugee Day in 2017.  Since launch, the organization’s statement notes, the software has enabled the delivery of $20 million in resources to more than 500 organizations in more than 20 countries.

“Through a free, public version of their crisis response software, NeedsList plans to move over $50 million of resources to local aid organizations, supporting 10 million people,” the Google blog post reads.

NeedsList also operates Welcome.US’ Welcome Exchange, according to Google.  Welcome Exchange assists refugees arriving from Afghanistan and Ukraine, and involves a coalition of 35 CEOs that includes Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai.

“Knowing what’s needed where, who is doing what, and how to help is vital during times of crisis.
Real-time information helps organizations reduce waste, improves collaboration, and gets people what they need quickly,” said Alex Díaz, a senior manager, AI for Social Good & Crisis Response, at Google.org, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be providing financial and engineering support to NeedsList’s efforts to scale this model globally and to make it accessible to all who need it.”

Díaz also authored the blog post published by Google.

The company raised a $1 million seed round in 2018.  According to a spokesperson, the company employs eight people.

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire