Six start-up businesses providing solutions to improve children’s lives using frontier technologies such as data science, virtual reality (VR), drones and artificial intelligence (AI) will receive funding this year from UNICEF’s $12.6 million Innovation Fund.
“Through the fund, UNICEF has the opportunity to shape the emerging technology market to benefit some of the world’s most vulnerable children,” says Sunita Grote, UNICEF Innovation Fund Manager.
“In the application process, we identified cutting-edge technologies clustered around $100 billion industries with the potential to address inequalities and provide life-changing solutions for children. Our goal is to continue to identify and invest in these solutions. We’ve chosen an ambitious cohort for our third round of investments and we’re looking forward to working with them.”
Three of the start-ups will receive funding to develop technology to support children who struggle verbally
The fund’s strategy also involves investing in frontier technologies providing innovative solutions to challenges faced by children with disabilities. Three start-ups will receive funding to develop technology to support children who struggle verbally: CIREHA, Ninaad Digital Technology and Beijing Daokoudai.
In Argentina, CIREHA is developing C Board, which enables children with speech and language impairments to communicate using symbols and text-to-speech in offline environments.
Based in India, Ninaad Digital Technology is developing Jellow communicator using a free-to-download Android application to address speech impairment.
China’s Beijing Daokoudai is working on Yuudee 2, a tool to help children with autism develop complex sentence structures to express themselves.
Other start-ups use drones and crowdsourcing to aid in emergency response and humanitarian interventions
VR technology company IDEASIS aims to resolve the phobias and social adaptation problems of young people and children. The Turkey-based firm hopes its platforms will be adapted for use in refugee camps to rehabilitate children suffering from trauma in conflict and crisis areas.
Autonomous Systems Research will develop software and hardware for aerial missions using drones to gather information and images from hard-to-reach areas to aid emergency response and other humanitarian interventions.
In Palestine, RedCrow provides a platform for people to point out dangerous incidents and places – visualized through maps using a mobile application and a website.
In its first year, UNICEF Innovation Fund invested in eight startups which have successfully launched their problem-solving technologies using open-source platforms to deliver technology solutions that improve real-time data collection, identity technology and learning.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund invites technology start-ups to apply for investment and become part of a growing portfolio of open source solutions
The UNICEF Innovation Fund is inviting technology start-ups to apply for investment and become part of this growing portfolio of open source solutions. Applications are open and can be made at www.unicefinnovationfund.org.
UNICEF Innovation is an interdisciplinary team of individuals around the world tasked with identifying, prototyping and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work. We build and scale innovations that improve children’s lives around the world.
Follow UNICEF Innovation on Twitter.