UNICEF Innovation Fund invests in open source startups

UNICEF is inviting technology startups to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children to apply for funding from its recently launched Innovation Fund.

unicefTo qualify for funding, projects must be open source and have a working prototype. They can involve developing a new technology or expand/improve on an already existing one.

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund has raised $9 million to date and offers innovators in developing countries a pooled funding mechanism to help them take their tested projects to the next stage. UNICEF Innovation has previously invested in technology solutions, such as RapidSMS, RapidPro and U-Report, which now reach millions of users.

The fund focuses its investments on three portfolio areas:

* Products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth
* Real-time information for decision-making
* Infrastructure to increase access to services and information, such as connectivity, power, sensors and transport

Applications will be assessed based on criteria that includes the strength of the team, the project’s relevance to children, and the ability to see potential future value in the open source IP being created. Submissions of Expressions of Interest must be received no later than 26 February 2016 and can accessed here.

“We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups. We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children,” said Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead.

UNICEF Innovation is an interdisciplinary team of individuals around the world tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work. Through its presence in 190 countries, it builds and scales innovations that improve children’s lives around the world.

Monty (691 Posts)

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.