UNICEF Innovation Fund Call for Data Science & A.I

Looking for data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence or similar technology solutions

map showing dots that are points of schools

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 start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme 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.

What we’re looking for

We 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:

Are you using new sources of data such as satellite imagery or social media and applying data science or artificial intelligence techniques to understand the physical world that we live in?

  • Applying deep learning to analyze satellite imagery and automatically map infrastructure 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 we live in and its rapidly changing environments
maps of schools
UNICEF Innovation

Do you know how much knowledge is available in your language online? Was it created locally? How is content structured and how do we learn it? In other words, are you trying to use data science and AI to understand the digital world that we 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 we 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
Example of factors that is considered in getting a job or finding a new location for business
UNICEF Innovation

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

Pushing technology forward

There are numerous applications of data-science, this call is not necessarily limited to the above descriptions. We are interested in companies that apply data-science in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, globally applicable, and can be used for the benefit of humanity.

When to apply

We encourage you to submit your application when ready as we will be reviewing on an ongoing basis. Only shortlisted companies will be contacted and then requested to submit a more in-depth proposal.

**Deadline February 28.

Who can apply

  • You must be registered as a private company in a UNICEF programme country;
  • You 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) 
  • You have an existing prototype of the solution with promising results from initial pilots
  • Your solution has the potential to positively impact society.
  • Your company does not have to be fully down the road of having a ready product, it can be at the very beginning. Our 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. Please read the FAQs for more details on the selection criteria

**Women led projects are encouraged to apply.

What does the UNICEF Innovation Fund provide?

Seed funding. The Fund provides up to $100,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for you to validate and test your prototype, and get it to a stage where the company has proof that your solution works.

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 our network you can get access to world class researchers, corporate partnerships, and additional datasets. Read about our latest partnership stories here.

Maximize impact for children. As the world’s leading organisation for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide geographically localized advice on your solution, assess its impact, and develop partnerships needed to reach more users.

Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org and our FAQ’s for more information.