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UNICEF Funding Opportunity for Tech Startups (Up to 100k Equity Free Investment)

The UNICEF Innovation Fund 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. 

If you’ve got a startup using machine learning (ML), data science (DS), or artificial intelligence (AI), registered in one of UNICEF’s program countries, and have a working, open-source prototype (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you. 

Before you apply, kindly read through this piece to learn the full details about this award- the eligibility criteria, requirements, application deadline, and more. This might be a chance to improve your business. The table below will give you an overview of what you should expect.

About UNICEF Funding

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UNICEF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR TECH START-UPS - Opportunities for Youth


UNICEF’s Innovation Fund 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 share markets and also learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children.

The Innovation Fund is particularly seeking solutions that are:  

  • Addressing challenges to accelerate results for children. 
  • Optimized for low-resource environments (e.g. low connectivity, mobile access). 
  • Focus on reducing, rather than widening, inequalities. 
  • Able to deliver in multiple languages, including smaller languages. 

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UNICEF Funding Worth

UNICEF invests in solutions clusters around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  

Value of Award:

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

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Who is Eligible for UNICEF Funding Opportunity

UNICEF is currently looking to invest in companies that are using machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, or extended reality (virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR)) technologies to build software solutions that respond to the four broad categories of digital risks to children: ContentContactConduct and Contract Risks.



Projects are assessed by UNICEF Innovation Fund team and recommended for funding to the internal board. Companies need to fulfill the following mandatory requirements to be considered for funding

  • Registered as a private company
  • Registered in a UNICEF program country (see list here)
  • 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)  a CC-BY license for design or content, a CC-BY license
  • An existing prototype of the open source solution with promising results from initial pilots
  • Solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable children      
  • Generating publicly exposed real-time data that is measurable

Please review the additional information for the Request for Expression of Interest here.

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Selection Criteria

The following criteria will be used:

  • Relevance of solution for children and young people, problem-solution fit and potential for application at global scale
  • Novelty of project and alignment with Innovation Principles 
  • Suitability of the team and key personnel to implement the project
  • Project budget and financing

Eligible Countries: UNICEF Innovation Fund only accepts submissions from companies registered in UNICEF program countries. See the list of countries here

Number of Awards: Not specified

How to Apply for UNICEF Funding Opportunity

  1. Read the full Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) document here
  2. Submit your Expression of Interest here
  • It is important to go through all application requirements in the Award Webpage before applying.

Click on the BUTTON below to apply.

UNICEF Funding Opportunity Application Dealine

The deadline for entry submission is August 02, 2021.

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