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:
- smart contracts
- analysing data
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.”
Developing #opensource solutions on open #blockchains? #SmartContracts #DataAnalysis #Tokens #Mining + more? APPLY for seed funding from @UNICEF’s Innovation Fund ➡ https://t.co/bbe1t7hglO @coindesk @coinbase @FastCompany @iamwill @epicenterbtc @_bitcoinaire_ @RedditBTC pic.twitter.com/94RgSWSHBS
— UNICEF Innovation (@UNICEFinnovate) January 15, 2018
Challenges being tackled
The Fund’s call for applications suggests a number of challenges, solutions to which it would be keen to fund.
- Using smart contracts to replicate and improve on existing organisational mechanisms
- Transparency in distribution of resources (can we better show where our money is going?)
- Using machine learning to understand the activities on public blockchains.
- Can crypto-flows be used to help organisations and governments do and understand their transactions more efficiently?
- Can blockchain data be used to solve humanitarian challenges? (i.e. using bitcoin data to fight human trafficking)?
- Can crypto tokens work to incentivise or support behaviour that benefits humanity?
- How could we connect various tokens to each other to maximise human potential?
- How could we utilise digital scarcity, non-fungible tokens, or digital collectibles for social good?
- Can we use passive distributed mining networks to create investment funding opportunities for the UNICEF Venture Fund?
— Qusai Jouda (@QusaiJouda) December 26, 2017
What UNICEF will offer
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”.
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.