UNICEF offers funding for socially beneficial blockchain start-ups

Howard Lake | 24 January 2018 | News

Blue Lego figure climbing stairs of Lego. Photo: Howard Lake up
Onwards and upwards. Photo: Howard Lake

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is to provide seed finance to for-profit technology start-ups “that have the potential to benefit humanity” using blockchain technology. It will make $50-90k equity-free investments.
The Fund is seeking applications from start-ups registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries. An open source approach is required: applicants must have a working, open source prototype showing “promising results” or be willing to make their software and blockchain solution open source.
The funding is to be used for prototype testing and validation, and to get projects to a stage where the company has proof that the solution works. The initiatives must benefit children.

What kind of blockchain projects?

UNICEF is looking for companies working in the areas of:

It is also interested in other related areas. The Fund is also “interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, and globally applicable. If you are aligned with our general criteria, we want to hear from you.”



Challenges being tackled

The Fund’s call for applications suggests a number of challenges, solutions to which it would be keen to fund.
These include:



What UNICEF will offer

UNICEF blockchain funding call 2018
In addition to seed funding from UNICEF, the selected start-ups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions. This includes access to a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their company and ultimately profit.
UNICEF Ventures already has a dedicated blockchain lead and computer science team hosting and sharing data platforms. It has access to corporate partnerships and use cases that selected blockchain start-ups could benefit from.
With UNICEF’s global reach it can also provide geographically localised advice and partnerships for the selected start-ups.
Chris Fabian of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation Ventures told Coindesk in November 2017: “I believe that there is a very near future where we will be using blockchain, the bitcoin blockchain maybe, other distributed ledgers, to do central operational tasks”.

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How to apply

Applications from eligible start-ups should be made to UNICEF Innovation Fund.
All submissions must be made in English, and require a two-minute pitch video.
The deadline for applications is 11:59 EST on 28 February 2018.