Call for Expressions of Interest to the UNICEF Innovation Fund
UNICEF is inviting technology startups developing solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children to apply for funding from its recently launched Innovation Fund.
UNICEF is looking to provide investment-style funding to early-stage tech startups. Only entities that fulfill these mandatory requirements will be eligible:
A private company/institution registered in a UNICEF programme country (see list here)
Working on open source technology solutions (or willing to be open source) under the following licenses:
Software: BSD, AGPL, LGPL
Content and designs: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA or CC-SA
Projects funded need to increase the ability of children to access information and to increase opportunity and choice. Specifically, projects should align with one of UNICEF Innovation’s three portfolio areas:
1. products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation
2. real-time information for decision making and governance
3. infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport.
Generating publically exposed real-time data that can be / is measured
In addition to the mandatory requirements above, companies/institutions submitting expressions of interest are expected to have:
1. A small team that has been working on something for a few months with an active prototype that works.
2. A prototype that aligns with UNICEF’s Innovation Principles
3. A project that is either:
Developing new technology
Expanding/ improving existing technology/ platform (i.e. it will be in a place where the technology
is being used...but will involve new tech being built)
Piloting a new use case for existing technology (i.e little or no new tech will be built and it will be used in the same place)
Scaling existing, initial pilot to new areas (i.e. no significant new tech, but also this will be in a new country or region
4. A need for a small amount of money to get it to the stage where the company has proof that the solution works for other people. Maybe another developer or two are needed, design help to communicate what the project can do or some server space. Refactoring something into a new language because the initial one won’t scale. Testing it in a new area. Getting some data points. These are not huge financial investments, but they are what the Innovation Fund can help with, as UNICEF Innovation supports the acceleration of the company’s work.
5. The next stage after that proof would be going for more funding (this could be private sector investment (yep! they do invest in open source products) or grant-funding, or other; depending on the type of technology and solution.
6. Under the three portfolio areas, UNICEF is most interested in some of these emerging technology spaces such as blockchain, 3D printing, data, personal/social communications networks, satellites, wearables and sensors, mobile devices, UAVs, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. However, if the project is based on something else and it’s awesome….don’t worry if it’s not on the list, this can still be considered.
7. The project can provide UNICEF with real-time data about something (number of users, database queries, transactions, missions run, ping times, whatever.) that can be connected through the Internet. This data will be shown in real-time on the Innovation Fund website, that provides real-time reporting on each of the Fund’s investments.