The UNICEF Venture Fund is seeking to invest in Open Source, cutting-edge technological solutions that have the potential to significantly improve the physical and mental health of children. UNICEF is providing early stage, for-profit technology start-ups that can better the lives of children with up to US$100K in equity-free capital. UNISEF wants to hear from you if your business is utilising cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data science (DS), drones, blockchain, or extended reality (XR). We are primarily looking for businesses with registered offices in a country where UNICEF is active, remarkable functional prototypes, and a dedication to open source licensing.
Through nine thematic portfolios, including maternal, newborn, child & adolescent health, nutrition, mental health, youth, and humanitarian response, UNICEF’s innovation portfolio approach prioritises addressing the most difficult problems faced by children and young people in order to reach the most vulnerable populations. These portfolios provide a high priority on solutions that increase access to data, skills, and services, reinforce systems in distant and low- or no-connectivity locations, and actively involve and empower young people. In order to strengthen systems for health, particularly mental health, UNICEF’s Venture Fund is currently looking to invest in businesses that are creating software solutions leveraging cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, drones, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, or extended reality. Some of the most pressing questions include, but are not limited to:
Area 1: How might we improve equity and access to services for health, nutrition, mental health and psychosocial support for children and their families?
- New ways to facilitate social and behaviour change that increase both demand and supply of services. Emphasis on appropriate services for persons with disabilities is encouraged.
- Strengthening existing solutions to personalise services (i.e., using human-centred design) that address diverse needs, including for persons with disabilities.
- Advanced analytics tools for health workers to monitor, assess and assist in decision making for needs and coverage for local service planning and delivery.
- Tools which identify and follow-up missed and underserved children, especially those that improve the understanding of the profile or characteristics of low service utilisation.
Area 2: How might we improve data generation and analysis for health, nutrition, mental health and psychosocial support for children and their families?
- Models or alternative data sources to improve representation, accuracy and completeness of existing data for health, mental health and/or nutrition.
- Secure data management platforms and tools to improve data collection, access and sharing with a focus on decreasing data bias.
- Exploring non-traditional platforms for collecting new health and nutrition data, such as data on malnutrition (including wasting, stunting, underweight, and obesity); or preventive analysis data from social trends.
- Digital tools to monitor the food environment and/or leverage alternative sources of data such as citizen-sourced data to understand health behavioral insights, such as food availability and consumption patterns.
- Predictive analysis to understand changes in the world such as new patterns, risk factors, behavior insights or other contributors to pathologies and adverse outcomes, or diagnostic protocols and models.
Area 3: How might we strengthen workforce capacity, especially in fragile contexts and vulnerable populations for improving health, nutrition, mental health and psychosocial support?
- Upskilling frontline health workers for maternal, child and adolescent health.
- Offering specialized training and resources for youth engagement and advocacy such as extended reality tools for skilling.
- Augmenting workforce capacity in cultural competence, unconscious biases, and social determinants for health, nutrition and mental health.
- Building workforce capacity to deliver disability- and age-appropriate mental health and psychosocial support services.
UNICEF is not limited to the funding options mentioned. They are actively seeking companies that push the boundaries with frontier technologies in innovative and scalable ways with global relevance. If you think you meet the UNICEF Venture Fund criteria, UNICEF wants to hear from you!
- The Venture Fund invests up to 100,000 in USD and/or cryptocurrency in early-stage, open-source, frontier tech solutions in underserved markets to validate, test, and shape technology that can potentially address large-scale challenges for children.
- Solutions that graduate seed-stage funding and are selected for growth funding can get up to 400,000 in USD and/or cryptocurrency to scale their impact.
The Venture Fund supports:
- Projects developing new technology
- Projects 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)
- Projects that are new applications and are piloting new use case for existing technology (i.e little or no new technology will be built and it will be used in the same place).
Only companies that fulfill the following requirements will be assessed by UNICEF Venture Fund team and recommended for funding to the internal board.
- Be registered as a private company
- Registered in a UNICEF programme country (see list here)
- Working on Open Source technology solutions. Open source software is software that can be freely used, modified, and shared (in both modified and unmodified form) by anyone.
For a comprehensive definition, see the [Open Source Initiative’s Definition](https://opensource.org/osd/). If your solution isn’t already open source, we expect it to be made available as such. We recommend the following licenses:
- Software: Choose from the [Open Source Initiative approved licenses](https://opensource.org/licenses/), such as one of the GNU public licenses, BSD license, or MIT license.
- Hardware: CERN, MIT, or TAPR licenses.
- Design or Content: CC-BY license.
An existing prototype of the Open Source solution with promising results from initial pilots
Solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable children
Generating publicly exposed real-time data that is measurableEligible Regions: UNICEF Programme Countries.
- Go to the apply link/ apply button form the website
- Answer the questions regarding the mandatory requirements
- Complete all the cells as instructed
- Submit the EOI Response form and provide the information and supporting documents indicated in the form. EOIs Response forms must be submitted through UNICEF Innovation Fund.
- Registered and incorporated as a private company
- Registered in a UNICEF programme country
- Working on open source technology solutions (or willing to be open source) under the following licenses or their equivalent, as relevant: (i) for software, a GNU General Public license, MIT or BSD, (ii) for hardware, a CERN, MIT or TAPR open license and (iii) for design or content, a CC-BY license Yes/no An existing prototype of the open source solution with promising results from initial pilots
- Solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable children
- Generating publicly exposed real-time data that is measurable
Application Deadline: October 20, 2023Application ClosedOfficial link