ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021

ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021

Deadline: July 15, 2021

Do you have a digital solution that addresses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Global South? Apply now for the ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021.

The Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge, in response to COVID-19, is co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). The challenge will identify scalable innovative digital solutions that will enable countries, societies, communities, institutions and individuals from the Global South to deal with the cascading effects of the pandemic – across governance, economic and social sectors, and wellbeing – and contribute to the organizations’ respective focuses on South-South cooperation and digital technologies.

The Challenge objective is to promote South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/ country in the South. The Challenge will provide a mentorship scheme to increase the potential/ capabilities of the selected proposals/ teams to scaling up innovations across developing countries.


The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals will, through their appointed representatives:

  • Attend a virtual boot camp to further refine their plans and their milestones (e.g. market entry, deployment, impact traction).
  • Will be provided with seed funding up to USD $25,000 to implement/improve/scale up their proposed solution(s), with mentorship and training support, in a new market (developing country) by end of April 2022 (subject to the presentation of a sound budget and workplan with clear milestones and budget allocation. The seed funding will be applied based on progress of implementation.) Both the seed funding will be provided by ITU subject to the terms and conditions of agreements signed between ITU and each winning institution/organization.
  • Present virtually their digital innovation solutions/prototypes at UNOSSC’s annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo and ITU’s 2021 Global Innovation Forum, where they will also share knowledge and explore opportunities for potential partnerships.
  • Be eligible for additional fundraising and resource mobilization support from UNOSSC through a crowdfunding window of the South-South Galaxy platform.


  • Only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries are eligible to participate in this challenge. The challenge is open to governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, private sector and start-ups, research institutions, academia, and civil society organization (CSOs).
  • Applying organizations/institutions must have an existing project or minimum viable product (MVP) that:
    • promotes South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/country in the South,
    • demonstrates a new innovative project/prototype, outlining its potential for scaling up through South-South cooperation, and
    • is a digital solution
  • Only one submission per applying organization/institution is permitted (in case of multiple submissions, only the first one received will be considered).  
  • All submissions must be made in the English language only.
  • Applying organizations/institutions will be required to submit proof of their legal registration. 

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria will be used by the selection committee for both the shortlisting of 20 to 25 best submissions, as well as and the final selection of the winning submissions. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for scoring.

  • 20% for Relevance: Incorporation of South-South and triangular cooperation as a modality for replications and scaling up to other developing countries. The innovation should demonstrate how it will increase peer-to- peer learning among the Global South.  
  • 15% for Adaptability: Should demonstrate its adaptability and replicability to local context
  • 15% for Sustainability: Support sustainable and continuous response to Covid-19 crisis and its short or long-term impact.
  • 15% for Viability: Demonstrate viability of the solution in terms of its effectiveness and feasibility.
  • 20% for Partnership: Engagement with local partners in other developing countries to assure viability in local conditions, and to promote sustainability and scalability of the solution.  
  • 15% for Impact: The innovation much showcase how it has the potential to impact lives and drive socio-economic benefit, most of all among vulnerable and excluded populations.


  • Only submissions which are accompanied by the application form (duly completed in English and signed) and are received before 5pm Central Eastern Time on the deadline date will be considered.
  • Submissions are only possible via email to [email protected]
  • You will also have to register your innovation digital solution which is described in your submission.

For more information, visit ITU/UNOSSC.