The 101 on the UNICEF Call for Blockchain Applications

UNICEF Funding Opportunity for Blockchain Startups

UNICEF Blockchain Team
Guy drawing his idea on paper
UNICEF kazakhstan
09 July 2020

The Innovation Fund allows UNICEF to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives. Financial and technological support is available for companies that are using technology in innovative ways to improve the world. The Fund is currently accepting applications from blockchain startups. 


What Is the Innovation Fund?

UNICEF's Innovation Fund is a newly established, non-thematic, pooled fund which 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 shape markets and learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children. We invest in solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. We find these solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, quantum computing, genetic engineering, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics.

People brainstorming together and writing on a paper
UNICEF Innovation

What are we seeking?  

We are seeking open-source projects that have already been started - you’ve been running it for a while - it shows some positive indicators - but you need funding to take it to a level where it can really attract additional investment and funding by generating real data. 

 You might need a small amount of money to get your prototype to the stage where the company has proof that the solution works for other people. Maybe another developer or two are needed, design help to communicate what the project can do or some server space. Refactoring something into a new language because the initial one won’t scale. Testing it in a new area. Getting some data points. 

 The UNICEF Innovation Fund can help with these kinds of investments up to $100,000 (in USD and/or cryptocurrency) to support the acceleration of your company’s work. 

Person typing on his laptop
UNICEF Innovation

What innovations are we interested in?

This call is for blockchain companies. We’re open to blockchain projects that are making a positive impact. See the eligibility criteria at the bottom of the page. Examples of projects we’re interested in, include but are not limited to:

  • Data: Applications that help identify patterns and/or make decisions in an autonomous way; projects that collect, aggregate and validate datasets for blockchain oracles; solutions that enhance data integrity and privacy
  • Finance: Projects that enable people to use, earn, and hold cryptocurrencies; projects that allow people to access decentralised financial instruments; initiatives exploring new models to empower communities to act as their own economic hubs; platforms to make financial systems more transparent
  • Connect: Solutions that allow various group to work together in a transparent and accountable nature (i.e. supply-chain, contract management, data tracking, etc.); decentralised applications that enable decentralized deal-making, for example through decentralised marketplaces
  • Empower: Projects that explore new ways of making decisions (i.e. using a decentralized method such as DAOS to determine what projects should receive funding); projects that protect user data collected through solutions through zero knowledge proofs or other mechanisms.

And + Our funding is not necessarily limited to the above. We are 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.

How to Apply

process of applying to the UNICEF Innovation Fund
UNICEF Innovation

Interested in UNICEF’s past blockchain work?  

  • Read about our first blockchain cohort here.  
  • You can learn more about UNICEF’s overall blockchain efforts here.  
  • Funding is offered both in USD and crypto. More on the launch of the CryptoFund here. 

Check out our FAQ for any outstanding questions you might have. 

Eligibility Criteria  

  • You must be registered as a private company 
  • Your company/institution must be registered in a UNICEF programme country (see list here) 
  • You’re 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) for design or content, a CC-BY license, 
  • You have an existing prototype of the open source solution with promising results from initial pilots. 
  • Your solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. 
  • Your project generates publicly-exposed real-time data that can be/is measured.