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UNICEF Innovation




UNICEF's Global Innovation Centre takes game-changing innovations and deploys them at scale, across multiple countries and contexts. Our goal is to implement and scale global solutions that will help the world's most vulnerable children, using funds efficiently and effectively. 

We ensure that our projects can be easily replicated, set up and utilized anywhere, allowing us to help children and families in the most hard-to-reach places. This approach is economical, adaptable to the local context and open to constant improvement.

We work across four key areas to help build a better tomorrow for all:

Real-time information

The ability to access credible, up to date information about the situation of children is indispensable to improving their lives and protecting their rights. RapidPro an entirely free, SMS- based, mobile health monitoring tool developed by UNICEF is a powerful tool that allows workers in even the most remote, far-flung corners of the world to reach those most in need using accurate and timely information.

RapidPro’s open source software enables UNICEF and partners to gather data on vital areas such as health, education, child protection and emergencies. The platform allows users to easily design, pilot and scale services that connect directly with a mobile phone user, without the help of a software developer.  

With easier access through these everyday channels, expectant mothers in Mexico can get essential health information and young people in Malawi can access free counselling advice.

Youth empowerment

A voice for change. U-Report is a messaging tool that empowers young people around the world to engage with and speak out on issues that matter to them. It works by gathering opinions and information from young people on topics they care about – ranging from employment and discrimination to child marriage.

U-Reporters respond to polls, report issues and support child rights. The data and insights are shared back with communities and connected to policy makers who make decisions that affect young people.

U-Report is available via SMS or social media, and works on even a basic mobile phone.It’s free, anonymous and easy to use. There are now more than 4 million U-Reporters in 39 countries – including Syria – and a new U-Reporter joins the platform every 30 seconds.

Tomorrow’s innovators

The UPSHIFT programme supports the most disadvantaged young people to become social innovators.

UPSHIFT helps vulnerable young people identify challenges in their communities and create entrepreneurial solutions to address them. Through a combination of training and mentorship, participants gain valuable transferable skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and leadership.

They have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to experts, and the most promising solutions receive seed funding. Participants gain confidence, build resilience and learn how to create change. Their local communities benefit from new solutions.

Access to information

Right now, around 4 billion people remain off line, unable to access the knowledge economy. UNICEF is working to bridge the digital divide and give all children and families access to essential information using the Internet of Good Things (IoGT).

The Internet of Good Things (IoGT) is a set of free mobile and web-based resources and applications. It delivers life-saving and life improving information free of charge, even on low-end devices. People can access the platform at any time, without the cost of a data plan.

By mid-2017, IoGT was available in 61 countries and territories. More than 1 million internet users access.

UNICEF’s IoGT content every month, and the number of IoGT users doubled from 5.3 million in 2015 to 10.7 million in 2016.

Design for Children

The first of UNICEF’s innovation principles is ‘design with the user’ – making sure that a project takes a user-centric approach. Human-centred design (HDC) takes this a step further by using a set of tools to tailor solutions for children using repeatable, human-centred methods for creative problem solving and innovation.

This approach to developing new innovations takes inspiration from real people, works within market and technological constraints, and ensures the entire design process is rooted in the real world.

Find out more about the Global Innovation Centre projects here.






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