AI & Data Science for Learning and Health
Meet the UNICEF Venture Fund's portfolio of companies leveraging tech to improve outcomes of learning and healthcare services.
In April 2022, the UNICEF Venture Fund announced our most recent investments in solutions using artificial intelligence (A.I.) and data science to accelerate learning outcomes for students, generate data to forecast health and healthcare needs, and drive insights on the economic impact of school connectivity on social outcomes.
The nine selected companies received equity-free investments in USD and/or cryptocurrency and began a year-long mentorship program with UNICEF technical and strategy mentors. Through June 2023, the teams will receive support on open-source technology development, software development, data science, data privacy and security, UI/UX, business strategy, and impact evidence. The teams will also learn about different avenues of engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation, and where possible, explore synergies with UNICEF Country Offices.
Among the cohort, five out of nine are female-led/co-founded, bringing the Fund’s total female-led portfolio composition to 43 percent. The teams are working globally, including Latin America (Brazil), Europe (Serbia), Africa (Nigeria, Kenya), the Middle East (United Arab Emirates), South Asia (India), and Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia).
AQAI (India) is developing a machine learning predictive model for air quality, with georeferenced visualization showing child population density against regions with concentrations above WHO-recommended limits.
“When we co-founded AQAI, we were driven by a sense of urgency that threats to children’s respiratory health in developing nations require solutions that can scale, and a belief in the power of data science to predict the respiratory health impact of pollution on children. AQAI has used these principles to predict pollution exposure for over 75 million children.”
Afrilearn (Nigeria) is an edech startup developing an application for accessible, adaptive learning, aligned with national curricula. The prototype developed includes audio, video, practical quizzes, and class notes for all lessons.
“Afrilearn will significantly improve the lives of children by leveraging AI to give children the freedom to customize their learning, choose their learning style, and understand how they learn best; thereby empowering them to be their best.
This investment will help us increase the effectiveness of the Afrilearn and introduce it to markets across Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to reach 100,000 students, teachers, parents, and schools through partnerships with the Schools, Governments, Public Sector companies, and Development Partners.”
Bookbot (Indonesia) is developing a gamified app leveraging real-time, on-device speech recognition technology that listens to the user reading aloud, providing feedback through pronunciation modeling.
Founder: Adrian DeWitts
“The Bookbot app is helping children with limited access to books across Indonesia learn how to read. Our speech recognition technology has also shown incredible results increasing the reading fluency of children with learning difficulties.
The support from the UNICEF Venture Fund is helping us prove the efficacy of Bookbot as a learning assistance tool, in turn helping us to raise further investment from other sources.”
Founder: Dominic Ligot
“For CirroLytix, AEDES was the start of our pivot into social impact and was the seed technology that allowed us to use data to address other issues such as human rights, food security, and climate change. This was the first spark that showed how data could be leveraged for the good of society.
The UNICEF investment is a validation that our decision to go deep into impact work is a worthy one, and we hope this is the base where we can sustainably scale solutions such as AEDES for the benefit of many.”
Eyebou (UAE) is a iE-based startup developing an AI tool for virtual eye exams to detect vision disorders in children. The solution is optimized for low-resource environments and limited connectivity and can be accessed using a mobile device.
"The UNICEF Venture Fund investment helps Eyebou to build robust artificial intelligence in the eyecare space. With this investment, we will directly be helping over 10,000 children to receive eyecare but we hope the collaboration with UNICEF will create more opportunities allowing us to give eyecare to many more. In this way, we hope to improve the quality of life and access to education for more children globally."
Jobzi (Brazil) is a data intelligence startup focusing on human capital markets and connectivity. They are working alongside UNICEF’s Giga team to develop a solution to predict the relationship between connectivity and employment.
- PAULA DRUMOND GUEDES
- ARMANDO SUZUKI HORIE
- Rodrigo Krilow Parra
- Eduardo Sany Laber
- Alexandre Roberto Rentería
- ALINE MEDEIROS SAETTLER
"We believe that education is a powerful tool to change the world and enables any country's sustainable growth. Gathering data and building solutions to impact in the education sector could improve and change the lives of the youth by demonstrating the relationship between connectivity and education. This study could be a compelling argument to power connectivity accessibility infrastructure in lacking regions, and thereby enable children to have more opportunities, digital and otherwise.
We are eager for UNICEF Venture Fund’s investment as we look forward to consolidating and bringing more data to our models and platform in Brazil. We are optimistic about leveraging access to more data and worldwide partnerships so to expand to other countries using the same core methodology and algorithms."
“The Venture Fund investment is helping us expand our clinical trials to new regions. As a result, we have been able to reach more users, impacting more patients. We believe to reduce mortality and morbidity of patients, especially children, our technology seeks to help doctors provide accurate diagnosis before patients even get their shirts back on after an imaging procedure. We can make real-time diagnosis a reality.”
OM3GA is a Serbia-registered startup developing a deep learning, virtual speech-to-text solution integrated with a chatbot builder. The app currently supports Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, and Montenegrin, with Russian in development.
"Our speech-to-text solution has the potential as a conversation-facilitating software, learning aid, or education assistant during online classes and in integrated classrooms. By becoming open source and opening datasets for speech-to-text training in Slavic languages to the public, we are giving an opportunity for others in need to build on top of our solution and develop similar products that will help the disabled community and the youth.
The five-year-long journey from bootstrapping, first investments, and development led us to the support of UNICEF and a step closer to bringing our vision to fruition. UNICEF fund opens a door for us to connect to a larger group of researchers and potential investors and expand our development in order.”
Portal Telemedicina (Brazil) is developing a platform that provides fast, reliable, and low-cost diagnostics to over 300 cities in Brazil and Africa, by enabling doctors to make online diagnoses, leveraging an artificial intelligence (AI) integrated layer and insights for medical providers.
“Using AI to integrate health, educational and socioeconomic data from different sources is a complex task, but a powerful way to provide public managers with information. This is the best way to make corrective and preventive decisions based on facts. In this way, our solution will help improve the lives of children and achieve change.”