UNICEF’s Innovation Fund is looking for its next cohort of startups developing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions with the potential to improve the lives of children, offering up to USD$90,000 equity-free seed funding and business support.
This magazine reported earlier this year in February how Chris Fabian had raised USD$9 million (30.9 Billion UGX) for the UNICEF Innovation Fund with the aim of supporting startups in emerging markets developing open source solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.
According to reports by Disrupt Africa, in November, UNICEF announced the first five recipients of the Fund, with South African blockchain startup 9Needs receiving funding, alongside startups from Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Pakistan.
On 12 July 2017, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced another set of recipients receiving the investment which included; – eKitabu; a Kenyan developed open source, cross-platform e-reading system, Ilhasoft; a Brazilian startup developing a multi-lingual chatbot for easy deployment & integration and, Kimetrica; a Kenyan startup developing the MERON (Method for Extremely Rapid Observation of Nutritional Status) app, which uses facial recognition technology to detect malnutrition in children (aged 0-5) during humanitarian emergencies.
Applications are now open for the next round of investments, with UNICEF this time focusing on startups developing VR and AR solutions.
“VR and AR technologies can be used to solve real human problems. By providing new, immersive ways of accessing data they can enhance our learning experience, expand our understanding of complex systems and improve how we interact with one another,” UNICEF said in a press statement.
The Fund is looking to invest between USD$50,000 and USD$90,000 into startups creating software for authoring or consuming these new realities; platforms and ways providing wider access to that software; platforms and ways providing better tools for content creation; and particular applications of content.
In particular, UNICEF is interested in solutions focused on learning, understanding complex environments, and new ways of storytelling.
Selected startups will also gain access to UNICEF’s Innovation Ventures team, who will provide help and mentoring with product and technology development; while startups will also receive business support and help in maximising their solutions’ impact on children.
Interested applicants should send their applications not later than September 17th. To be eligible, startups must be based in one of UNICEF’s programme countries; and must have a working, open source prototype.