Deadline: 28 February 2019

Applications are open for the 2019 UNICEF Innovation Fund which is looking to make up to 100K equity-free investments to provide early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity.


  • Seed funding. The Fund provides $50-90,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for the applicant to validate and test applicants prototype and get it to a stage where the company has proof that applicants.
  • Product and technology development. Selected startups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions. Additionally, startups are plugged into a data-science focused cohort where they will be connected with other companies working on similar solutions, exchange lessons learned and share critical data.
  • Business Growth. The Fund taps into a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their companies and ultimately profit.
  • Data networks and platforms. UNICEF Ventures has a dedicated Data-Science team since 2014, developing partnerships, data platforms, and use cases. Through the network, the applicant can get access to world-class researchers, corporate partnerships, and additional datasets.
  • Maximize impact for children. As the world’s leading organization for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide geographically localized advice on their solution, assess its impact, and develop partnerships needed to reach more users.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must be registered as a private company in a UNICEF programme country;
  • Applicants are working on open source technology solutions or willing to be open-source under the following licenses or their equivalent: BSD (software), CERN (hardware), or CC-BY (content)
  • Applicants have an existing prototype of the solution with promising results from initial pilots
  • Applicants solution has the potential to positively impact society.
  • Applicants company does not have to be fully down the road of having a ready product, it can be at the very beginning. Their funding is intended to seed an exploration within a company that already exists, that has a strong team and a prototype, and that can be profitable, and successful in the space of data-science.
  • Women led projects are encouraged to apply.
  • They are currently looking to invest in companies that are using data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence or similar technologies to build solutions that respond to the following questions:
    • Applying deep learning to analyze satellite imagery and automatically map infrastructures such as schools, health centers, roads or cell towers
      • Using digital footprints from sources like social media or mobility patterns to understand public spaces
      • Exploring ML/AI techniques to help us better understand the physical world that they live in and its rapidly changing environments
    • Do you know how much knowledge is available in your language online? Was it created locally? How is content structured and how do they learn it? In other words, are you trying to use data science and AI to understand the digital world that they live in?
      • Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) or similar techniques to analyze large amounts of text
      • Using ML/AI to understand content structures and knowledge/learning relationships
      • Exploring ML/AI techniques to help us better understand the digital world that they live in as well as its dynamics/changing trends
    • What skills will be in most demand tomorrow? Are you trying to use data science, machine learning or artificial intelligence techniques to generate new insights from data?
      • Using ML/AI to understand the relationships between different variables that impact development indicators (i.e. learning, socio-economic, resilience, health).
      • Applying optimization techniques to improve service delivery, resource allocation or content delivery, for example
      • Predictive analysis to understand changes in the world such as job market trends or the supply and demand of skills
    • Or are you generating and curating data for any of the above?
      • Gathering and combining existing data from different sources
      • Generating new data through field data collection, crowdsourcing or social network platforms
      • Using novel approaches to generate, as well as to validate, large amounts of training data

How to Apply

Applicants can apply here.

Eligible Countries:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo DR, Congo-Brazzaville, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Croatia, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East, Timor), Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe