UNICEF Innovation Funds: Applications Now Open

UNICEF Innovation Funds

The UNICEF Innovation Funds provides up to $100K equity-free funding, tailored mentorship to grow open-source solutions and businesses, and access to UNICEF’s network. It provides early-stage funding and support to frontier technology solutions.

  1. Open source: The Innovation Fund invests exclusively in open source solutions. The Fund generates value by building open source IP and scalable digital public goods, strengthening communities of problem solvers, and growing solutions that bring results for children and the world.
  2. Equity-free: The Innovation Fund provides value that can be measured and counted in real-time. They recognize it’s much less important to see direct (and individual) cash flow – and much more important to see communities of problem solvers creating global digital public goods that can be repurposed, adapted, and scaled across a wide range of partners’ needs. They achieve this by gaining access to open-source intellectual property, the communities they are creating and around the products they invest in.
  3. Smart investing: The Fund launched the Smart Investing initiative to invest in a diverse portfolio of startups from 2019 onwards. Through Smart Investing, they commit to improving diversity, so that half of the new portfolio of startup companies they bring in every year has a female lead. In the longer term, their goal is to grow the share of female-led companies in their overall portfolio from 30% to 50%.
  4. Impact: The Fund monitors the progress of each investment in real-time. They measure progress on two different levels. First, aggregated metrics for all portfolio companies tracking the sustainability of the business and the technology developed. Second, the social impact which is specific to the context and the type of solution that the startup is building.

See also: Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

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Eligibility For The UNICEF Innovation Funds

  • UNICEF’s Innovation Fund invests in early-stage, open-source, emerging technology digital public goods with the potential to impact children on a global scale. It also provides product and technology assistance, support with business growth, access to a network of experts and partners to allow for scale and growth. Their ambition is to build successful digital solutions into Global Digital Public Goods, to ensure fair, equitable, and open access to these unique and new tools for human development on a global scale.
  • The UNICEF Innovation Fund is the first financial vehicle of its kind in the United Nations and enables UNICEF to learn from and shape markets of emerging technology that exist at the intersection of $100 billion business markets and 1 billion persons’ needs.

See also: BoomStartup Business Accelerator

What You Stand To Gain From The UNICEF Innovation Funds

All portfolio companies receive tailored support for product development, building a business model, and user testing based on their needs assessment. Startups also gain access to the UNICEF Ventures team’s tech expertise, networks, and platforms to help them reach the stage to prove that their solutions work and tap into more extensive funding sources.

  • Business growth: A network of mentors helps startup teams develop their business model and strategy around open-source technology, to grow their company and ultimately profit.
  • Product development: In addition to financial investment, startups and UNICEF Country Offices receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team and dedicated expert mentors to help validate and improve their solutions. Connections with partners provide valuable expertise on product development.
  • UNICEF network: Startups can leverage UNICEF Ventures’ dedicated Data Science team which hosts and shares data platforms including RapidPro and Magic Box, access unique testing environments such as drone corridors and country office programs, and utilize corporate partners for potential follow-on funding.
  • Funding: It provides up to $100K equity-free funding to open source frontier tech solutions showing promising results. The funding is intended for prototype testing and validation, and to get the solution to a stage where the company has proof that the solution and the business model work. This includes being able to generate data to show impact, usability, and strategy.
  • Mentorship: The Fund provides access to a tailored one-to-one mentoring program with the Innovation Fund’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mentors, based on the startup’s unique needs assessment. This program takes place over 4-5 months and concentrates on topics such as value proposition, competition map, stakeholder map, sales and activities, pricing and business models, growth plan, financial projections, and business and impact-focused metrics.

See also: Skoll Foundation: Awards For Social Entrepreneurship.

How To Apply

Visit their website to apply.

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