UNICEF Innovation Challenge in Iran Recognizes Top Innovative Solutions During COVID-19
Innovative Solutions that Address Challenges Faced by Children and Adolescents during the pandemic
In September 2020, the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology and UNICEF Iran joined hands to launch a call on "Innovative Solutions that Address Challenges Faced by Children and Adolescents during COVID-19". More than eighty innovative solutions in the fields of Education, Health and Nutrition, Protection and Entertainment were submitted and reviewed by the team of seasoned jurors. Through rigorous rounds of review, assessment, demo days, and deep dives with
the support of the leading national experts on innovation, top solutions were selected and rewarded in an award ceremony organized by UNICEF and the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology on 27 May 2021.
The National Innovations Award Ceremony hosted by the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology was opened by remarks from Vice President for Science and Technology, Dr Sorena Sattari, and UNICEF Representative in Iran, Ms. Mandeep O’Brien. In his opening remarks, Dr Sattari said: “The Innovation Awards and Conference bridge the experts in children’s and adolescents’ field from one side and the entrepreneurs’ community from the other side to help build the innovation ecosystem in Iran.” For her part, UNICEF Representative in Iran, Ms. O’Brien stated: “We believe that frontier technologies can help serve children most in need and that is why investing and supporting innovative solutions for children’s issues are more than ever necessary.”
The award ceremony was preceded by the "National Innovations for Children and Adolescents Conference" held virtually on May 26th with the objective of bringing together experts from public, private, and social sectors to create a space for dialogue, exchange of knowledge and experience, sharing the best global practices, and showcasing top national solutions.
In the Award Ceremony held on 27 May 2021, the top three solutions mentioned below received Statements of Recognition, trophies as well as financial support for scaling up their innovative solutions from Dr Sattari and Ms. O’Brien. They also will be benefited from UNICEF’s technical support.
“Phygital” is a connected toy that uses artificial intelligence to mix digital and physical environments. This educational narrative-based toy helps children learn through play, is accessible by any smart phone or tablet and can be used in distance learning.
“Boom” is an inclusive digital library for 6-16-year-old children. It is a multi-lingual platform that supports a wide range of multi-media content including e-books, audiobooks, videos, etc.
“Roobin” is the First Farsi-speaking STEAM-based interactive robot for 8-17 year old children and adolescents that teaches them computer programming boosts their creativity, problem-solving and algorithmic thinking faculties.
The next best solutions, ranking 4th to 10th place, were formally praised and received Certificate of Appreciation. These seven solutions respectively include: “Autechs” or Technology for Autism, uses augmented reality to enhance the learning experience of children with Autism through play and can reduce their medical expenses, “Hamano”, an urban crowd-sourcing civil engagement platform, applies artificial intelligence and data science tools and gamification to improve engagement and participation of 10-15 year old children to identify challenges and offers solutions,“Mehre Bani Platform”, an application for protecting children in street situations focuses on identifying, and educating these children with a referral mechanism, “Tile: Yoga for children” application helps children have enough daily physical activity, with a focus on decreasing obesity and increasing healthy lifestyle, “Eileithyia Pregnancy Gadget” supports pregnant women to experience a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and monitor their health which ultimately aims to decrease the mortality rate and high risk pregnancies, “HAMI”, a balanced child’s growth monitoring package includes a comprehensive positive parenting system throughout the growth cycle of child, and finally “Digital Sightseeing” provides opportunities for children to visit historical and ancient places using Mixed Reality during the pandemic.
In the post COVID-19 world, the need for innovative solutions for the unprecedented problems facing children requires investment in frontier technologies and innovative solutions that are committed to address children’s issues for and with them. The National Innovations for Children and Adolescents Conference and Award created a vibrant atmosphere in which the experts and stakeholders networked and exchanged their innovative, inclusive, and scalable solutions.
Looking into the future, UNICEF and the Vice presidency for Science and Technology are mapping the elements within the Ecosystem of Innovations for Children and Adolescents including actors, solutions, hubs, key nodes, among others to strengthen, create and scale-up solutions that have the greatest impact on children's lives.