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The UNICEF Innovation Fund is a pooled funding vehicle to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that have been developed in new and emerging markets.

UNICEF's Innovation (Venture) Fund is a newly established, non-thematic, pooled fund which has been specifically designed to finance early stage, open-source technology that can benefit children. The core motivation of the Innovation Fund is to identify "clusters" or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology - so that UNICEF can both shape markets and also learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children. They invest in solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. They find these solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, quantum computing, genetic engineering, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics.

The Funds has raised $17.9 million so far and focuses its investments on three portfolio areas:




The IF has been designed to fund open source solutions from early-stage technology startups. This funding can go either to UNICEF Country Offices or to private sector companies in UNICEF programme countries. Through its investments, the Innovation Fund is generating value by strengthening communities of problem solvers, increasing open-source intellectual property and growing solutions that bring results for children. The Fund also invests in early-stage "knowledge products" - operations research that is published in the public domain and supports investment strategies and decisions.


  • Seed funding: The Fund provides USD 50 — USD 90,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for prototype testing and validation, and to get it to a stage where the company has proof that the solution works.

  • Product and technology development: Selected startups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions.

  • Business Growth: The Fund taps into a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their company and ultimately profit.

  • Data networks and platforms: UNICEF Ventures has a dedicated Data Science team hosting and sharing data platforms, and with access to corporate partnerships and use cases that selected start-ups can benefit from.

  • Maximize impact: 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 and partnerships needed to reach more users.


  • You must be registered as a private company

  • Your company/institution must be registered in a UNICEF programme country

  • You’re working on open source technology solutions or willing to be open-source under the following licenses or their equivalent:

(i) for software, a BSD license,

(ii) for hardware, a CERN license and

(iii) for design or content, a CC-BY license,

  • You have an existing prototype of the open-source solution with promising results from initial pilots.

  • Your solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable children.

  • Your project generates publicly-exposed real-time data that can be/is measured.


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