UNICEF Venture Fund’s First Cohort for Climate Action
Investments in eight startups across eight countries leveraging frontier technology to address climate change.
The climate crisis has had a profound impact on the wellbeing, rights and health of over one billion children globally.
And, despite urgent, vocal, and persistent calls for action from children and young people worldwide, they consistently remain excluded and absent from much of the climate agenda. The failure to make credible investments in preparing, protecting, and prioritizing children in a climate-changed world will continue to jeopardize the lives of children for decades to come.
Recognizing the urgent need to enhance climate funding and resources that support young people, the UNICEF Venture Fund launched an open call for frontier technology solutions in early 2023. More than 400 companies from 72 UNICEF programme countries applied, demonstrating how leveraging data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and drones can address pressing climate-related issues facing young people.
A trend analysis of submissions suggests that:
- 39% of startups are seeking to engage communities in climate action. These startups are using technologies such as AI and blockchain to generate awareness, shape behavioral shifts, and fortify resilience among vulnerable groups in rural areas.
- 24% of applications focused on strengthening disaster preparedness and risk mitigation. These startups seek to harness frontier technologies such as data science and blockchain to bolster data collection, predictive modeling, and financial inclusion.
- 20% of solutions are geared towards precise measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and incentive programs to encourage carbon offsets. These startups will aspire to implement their solutions at both the organizational and individual levels.
- 16% of submissions sought to leverage advanced climate analytics and forecasting to predict climate impacts and guide adaptation strategies.
UNICEF is proud to present the Fund’s first Climate Tech Cohort of innovative companies that are leveraging frontier technologies to strengthen climate resilience. Expanding the Fund’s reach to a diverse range of countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Mali, Timor Leste, Cameroon and Albania, four of these solutions are led or founded by women; this cohort encompasses a diverse array of solutions, including but not limited to early warning systems, waste management platforms, community engagement initiatives, solarization efforts, and greenhouse gas accounting and estimation tools.
As climate change continues to threaten the world’s most vulnerable populations, it is crucial to channel efforts towards harnessing frontier technologies for adaptation and resilience. In alignment with the UNICEF Climate Action Plan, the solutions in the Climate Tech Cohort hold the potential to play pivotal roles in addressing environmental challenges, fostering sustainability, and driving positive change. By empowering innovators to develop contextual and transformative solutions with a specific focus on safeguarding children and youth, we can make a significant difference, for every child.
What’s next for the Climate Cohort
Startups that join the Climate Cohort are eligible to receive up to USD 100K in funding alongside technical assistance for building upon their prototype. Once in the cohort, the Venture Fund focuses on strengthening companies’ solutions and building their digital goods to support growth and impact more users. This includes the development of a 1-year work plan in collaboration with UNICEF’s Fund team to ensure that a variety of milestones and activities will be achieved throughout the investment period.
Personalized mentorship focuses on refining their value proposition, Open Source development, generating evidence of impact, business strategy, product design and data, privacy and trust. UNICEF envisions leveraging a powerful combination of financial investment and technical collaboration to ensure that selected solutions are better positioned to scale.
About UNICEF's Venture Fund
The UNICEF Venture Fund has been specifically designed to finance early stage, Open Source technology that can benefit children. The core motivation of the Venture 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 clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.