UNICEF Innovation Fund 2019 Call for Data Science & AI (Up to $50-90K equity-free investments)

UNICEF Innovation Fund 2019 Call for Data Science & AI (Up to $50-90K equity-free investments)

Deadline: February 28, 2019

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make $50-90K equity-free investments to provide early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity. If you’ve got a start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries and have a working, open source prototype (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you.


  • Seed funding. The Fund provides $50-90,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for you to validate and test your prototype, and get it to a stage where the company has proof that your solution works.
  • Product and technology development. Selected startups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions. Additionally, startups are plugged into a data-science focused cohort where they will be connected with other companies working on similar solutions, exchange lessons learned and share critical data.
  • Business Growth. The Fund taps into a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their companies and ultimately profit.
  • Data networks and platforms.  UNICEF Ventures has a dedicated Data-Science team since 2014, developing partnerships, data platforms, and use cases. Through our network you can get access to world class researchers, corporate partnerships, and additional datasets. Read about our latest partnership story here.
  • Maximize impact for children. As the world’s leading organisation for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide geographically localized advice on your solution, assess its impact, and develop partnerships needed to reach more users.


  • Startups registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries (see complete list here) and who have a working product (app, service, method, or something else).
  • Your company does not have to be fully down the road of having a ready product, it can be at the very beginning.
  • The funding is intended to seed an exploration within a company that already exists, that has a strong team, that can be profitable, and successful in the space of data-science.
  • **Women led projects are encouraged to apply.

They are currently looking to invest in companies that are using data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence or similar technologies to build solutions that respond to the following questions:

  • Are you using new sources of data such as satellite imagery or social media and applying data science or artificial intelligence techniques to understand the physical world that we live in?
    • Applying deep learning to analyze satellite imagery and automatically map infrastructure such as schools, health centers, roads or cell towers
    • Using digital footprints from sources like social media or mobility patterns to understand public spaces
    • Exploring ML/AI techniques to help us better understand the physical world that we live in and its rapidly changing environments
  • Do you know how much knowledge is available in your language online? Was it created locally? How is content structured and how do we learn it? In other words, are you trying to use data science and AI to understand the digital world that we live in?
    • Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) or similar techniques to analyze large amounts of text
    • Using ML/AI to understand content structures and knowledge/learning relationships
    • Exploring ML/AI techniques to help us better understand the digital world that we live in as well as its dynamics/changing trends
  • What skills will be in most demand tomorrow? Are you trying to use data science, machine learning or artificial intelligence techniques to generate new insights from data?
    • Using ML/AI to understand the relationships between different variables that impact development indicators (i.e. learning, socio-economic, resilience, health).
    • Applying optimization techniques to improve service delivery, resource allocation or content delivery, for example
    • Predictive analysis to understand changes in the world such as job market trends or the supply and demand of skills
  • Or are you generating and curating data for any of the above?
    • Gathering and combining existing data from different sources
    • Generating new data through field data collection, crowdsourcing or social network platforms
    • Using novel approaches to generate, as well as to validate, large amounts of training data

There are numerous applications of data-science, this call is not necessarily limited to the above descriptions. They are interested in companies that apply data-science in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, globally applicable, and can be used for the benefit of humanity.


They encourage you to submit your application when ready as they will be reviewing on an ongoing basis. Only shortlisted companies will be contacted and then requested to submit a more in-depth proposal.

Click here to apply.

For more information, visit UNICEF.