Unicef Is Funding Blockchain and Health Tech to Solve the World’s Biggest Problems

Mark Burgess | WIRED | November 15, 2016

Five startups will get a share of Unicef's $9 million Innovation Fund

The United Nations has announced the first five startups to receive investment through its its $9 million (£7.2m) innovation fund. Unicef, the UN's children's charity, will be giving seed funding to companies working to create affordable mobile connectivity, blockchain in childhood development, data collection in maternal care, and technology to help improve literacy skills.

The funding comes as part of Unicef's Innovation Fund – launched in February – and will see the organisation put up to $100,000 into each of the five firms. The companies picked to receive backing from Unicef are SayCel (from Nicaragua), mPower Social Enterprises Ltd (Bangladesh), 9Needs Pvt Ltd (South Africa), Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (Pakistan), and Chatterbox Dating Mobile (Cambodia).

Chris Fabian, who's jointly in charge of Unicef's Innovation Unit, told WIRED the companies were picked as they would be building "solutions to the world's most pressing problems". The intellectual property of each company's work will be made available under open source agreements, something that Unicef required for those it selected to fund. "They were not all open source to begin with," Fabian says. "Just in the way that a VC fund would negotiate equity, we've spent time negotiating open source"...