Feb 1, 2016 | By Tess

The United Nations Children’s Fund, perhaps better known as UNICEF, has recently launched a new initiative through which they will begin to invest more money into technology start-ups that have the potential to better the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children all over the world. The new initiative, called Innovation Fund, has put a special focus on certain technologies that have the potential to help children, which include 3D printing, blockchain, wearables and sensors, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy.

UNICEF, the United Nations program that has as its mandate the promotion of children’s rights all over the world, has through its Innovation initiative put its focus on progessive projects and ideas that have the potential to help their cause. As stated on their website, UNICEF Innovation is “tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work.”

UNICEF is currently accepting submissions from various start-ups until February 26, 2016 through their website, though there are some requirements for being considered for funding. Firstly, any submitted tech projects must be open source, and must already have a working prototype. The projects do not necessarily have to be wholly new technologies, however, as UNICEF explains they can also simply improve on existing technology.

Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead says, “The purpose of the UNICEF Innovation Fund is to invest in open source technologies for children. We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups. We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children.”

So far, the UNICEF Innovation Fund has raised $9 million, which they will begin to invest in tech start-ups they find most worthy. Submitted applications will be considered for their relevance to children, for the strength of the team behind the project, as well as how much potential the technology could have in the future. Below are the three main portfolio areas that UNICEF is seeking to focus its investments on:

  • Products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation;
  • Real-time information for decision making; and
  • Infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport.

Christopher Fabian says, “These three areas are ripe for investment due to rapidly changing technologies such as blockchain, 3D printing, wearables and sensors, artificial intelligence and renewable energy.”

Some of UNICEF Innovation’s previous and most successful technology investments include RapidSMS, RapidPro, and U-Report, which are now available to millions of users worldwide.

At 3Ders, we have and continue to see how 3D printing as a technology can shape and improve the lives of children through fields like STEM education, even in more disenfranchised communities. The potential is certainly there, and we anticipate great things from the 3D printing projects that receive investments from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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