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 U$90,000 equity-free seed funding and business support.
Disrupt Africa reported in February last year UNICEF launched the US$9 million 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. Fundraising has continued on an ongoing basis, with US$11.2 million committed to the Fund to date.
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.
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.
The Fund is looking to invest between US$50,000 and US$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.
Investments are made on an equity-free basis.
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.
To be eligible, startups must be based in one of UNICEF’s programme countries; and must have a working, open source prototype.
Applicants should also bear in mind the constraints of the markets UNICEF operates in: limited bandwidth, difficult to access areas, and affordability.
Applications are available here, until September 17.