WHAT IS THE UNICEF INNOVATION FUND?
The purpose of the UNICEF Innovation Fund is to invest in open source technologies for children. The Fund has raised $9 million so far and offers innovators in developing countries a pooled funding mechanism to help them take their tested projects to the next stage. The Fund brings together models of financing and methodologies used by venture capital funds and the principles of UNICEF’S award-winning Innovation Unit.
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 address a range of needs including learning and youth participation. Emerging technologies can help overcome barriers that prevent young people from accessing information and services. The ability for young people to connect to each other and counsel each other also allows them to share and scale their own solutions.
2. Real-time information for decision-making: allows the situation of the most vulnerable to be understood by those who have an ability to address their circumstance. Real-time data can help identify where disparities are greatest, who is being reached, who is not using essential services, and why this is the case. Products that produce real-time information strengthen systems, improving monitoring, transparency, and accountability.
3. Infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power finance, sensors and transport. Access to information, particularly basic, life-enhancing information, is a human right. Innovation that builds and strengthens infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors, and transport holds great promise to address existing challenges that negatively impact children.
These three areas are ripe for investment due to rapidly changing technologies such as blockchain, 3D printing, wearables and sensors, artificial intelligence and renewable energy.