UNICEF’s Innovation Fund announces first cohort of blockchain investments
Six companies in developing and emerging economies will receive investment from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund to solve global challenges using blockchain technology.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund will invest up to $100,000 USD in the six companies; Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar and W3 Engineers to deliver open-source prototypes of blockchain applications within 12-months.
Selected from more than 100 applications across 50 countries, these six companies will build prototypes and systems for global problems like transparency in health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects. They join 20 other technology startups currently under management by the Fund in fields from data science and machine learning, to virtual reality, to drones.
“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser, UNICEF Innovation. “That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests: when our financing, technical support, and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible.”
Atix Labs (Argentina) will develop a platform for small to medium-sized enterprises to gain access to funding while creating traceability into where the funds are used and measuring the impact.
Onesmart (Mexico) will address the misappropriation of funds in emerging markets with the scale of its prototype application, which ensures the delivery of state-provided social services to children and young people.
Prescrypto (Mexico) will provide a digital solution to the lack of electronic prescriptions in developing countries with a platform that allows medical services providers to view one common history of a patient, and improve the level of care.
Statwig (India) will use blockchain solutions to ensure the efficient delivery of vaccines through an enhanced supply-chain management system.
Utopixar (Tunisia) will deliver a social collaboration tool for communities and organisations to facilitate participative decision-making and value transfer.
W3 Engineers (Bangladesh), will improve connectivity within the refugee and migrant communities through an offline mobile networking platform without the use of sim cards and internet connection.
These investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain explorations of using smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology both in the United Nations and in the countries where UNICEF works.
In addition to funding the start-up companies, UNICEF’s Innovation Fund will provide product and technology assistance, support with business growth, and access to a network of experts and partners. The Fund also actively seeks second-round investment and support for companies it has invested in, as well as the opportunity to scale-up these technologies, when they are successful, in the more than 190 countries and territories where UNICEF operates.