Unicef funding available for startups that help children

  • Innovation Fund to overcome challenges faced by children worldwide
  • Projects must be open source and have a working prototype
Unicef funding available for startups that help children

THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is inviting technology startups with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children to apply for funding from its recently launched global Innovation Fund.
“The Fund is designed to identify and support local solutions to some of the most urgent challenges facing children and young people,” said Unicef Malaysia Innovation lead said Chelsey Lepage.
“Malaysia offers very fertile ground for social innovation, and Unicef’s new approach to venture capital investment is a great opportunity for local startups and innovators to impact the lives of children not only in Malaysia but throughout the world.”
To qualify for funding, projects must be open source and have a working prototype. They can involve developing a new technology, or expanding or improving an already existing one.
Unicef’s Innovation Fund, which has raised US$9 million so far, offers innovators in developing countries a pooled funding mechanism to help them take their tested projects to the next stage, the agency said in a statement.
The fund focuses its investments on three portfolio areas:

  • Products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation;
  • Real-time information for decision-making; and
  • Infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport.

Rapidly changing technologies such as blockchain, 3D printing, wearables and sensors, artificial intelligence as well as renewable energy make the three areas listed above ripe for investment, Unicef said.
Applications will be assessed according to a number of criteria including the strength of the team, the project’s relevance to children, and the ability to see potential future value in the open source intellectual property being created.
Unicef Innovation has previously invested in technology solutions, such as RapidSMS, RapidPro and U-Report, which now reach millions of users.
For more information and to submit an expression of interest, go to www.unicefinnovationfund.org.
Submissions of expressions of interest must be received no later than Feb 26.
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