UNICEF and Extreme Tech Challenge announce strategic partnership to advance the future of learning

01 March 2022
Student in a school in Chad
Student in a school in Chad

NEW YORK, 1 March 2022 – The Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are proud to announce the creation of the UNICEF EdTech Award as a special award in  the Extreme Tech Challenge 2022 competition. The purpose is to identify and showcase bold entrepreneurs demonstrating the greatest potential to become “Blue Unicorns” – ventures that impact at least 100 million children’s learning experiences.

This award is part of a wider strategic partnership to empower tech entrepreneurs driving transformative education innovations to help build the future of learning for every child worldwide, and will be presented during the XTC 2022 Global Finals in June 2022. 

The XTC 2022 open application deadline is March 15 2022. For Edtech startups who would like to be considered for this UNICEF Edtech special award (read criteria) have until March 31 2022 to apply.

“The UNICEF EdTech Award powered by XTC addresses UNICEF’s mission to ensure all learners can access quality online learning in their education journeys,” said Fayaz King, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. “Aligning with XTC allows collective leverage of a pool of transformative startups using tech toward impact for millions of children.”

Today the world is equipped with powerful technologies and tools with which to build a future of education in which every child thrives, from math adaptive learning programmes and gamified language-learning apps to lessons enhanced by augmented reality or robotic kits for kids powered by tinyML.

These technologies should and can set the pace of an equitable digital revolution, and this will be key to achieving the education-related United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the support of the Government of Finland and other partners, UNICEF recently established a hub for learning innovations in Helsinki. The partnership with XTC is a key alignment of that hub with XTC’s powerful tech-for-good ecosystem.

Bill Tai, Co-Founder of Extreme Tech Challenge and Partner Emeritus at Charles River Ventures, has been active with UNICEF for many years, and an early leader on their Giga Initiative to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice.

Young Sohn, Co-Founder, Extreme Tech Challenge, Founding Managing Partner, Walden Catalyst Ventures and Former Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics said, "XTC was created to empower the next wave of disruptive entrepreneurs seeking to address the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. We are pleased to collaborate with UNICEF to highlight the impact of the data, AI and micro-device revolutions to greatly widen beneficial impacts on childhood education."

The winner of this special award will compete with the 10 category winners and the other special award winners for the title of XTC 2022 Global Winner.

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Media contacts

Patty Alleman
Lead, Strategic Partnerships
Victoria Slivkoff
Executive Managing Director
Extreme Tech Challenge

About Extreme Tech Challenge

Extreme Tech Challenge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation whose mission is to empower startups creating new tech innovations to address global challenges. It is the world’s largest ecosystem and competition for purpose-driven technology inspired by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Extreme Tech Challenge™ competition is supported by leading corporations, venture capital investors, foundations, policymakers, universities and tech conferences to give exceptional startups the potential for global visibility, the opportunity to raise capital, the ability to network with global leaders, and access to world-class mentorship to help them pioneer technological breakthroughs that address our most extreme global challenges. A complete list of XTC partners and how to join can be found at www.extremetechchallenge.org.

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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At UNICEF, innovative solutions take many forms: from tech innovation, including powerful tools like artificial intelligence and blockchains, to the frugal innovations that can easily be adopted, adapted and scaled up. With our presence across the world and in alignment with a wide range of partners, we have the footprint to ensure innovative solutions are designed and delivered with and for the generation of children today, but also set the pace of change possible for future generations of children.

For more information about UNICEF’s Global Office of Innovation:




UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

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