In many cases these solutions are in technology areas that didn’t exist five years ago, so providing early stage investments also allows UNICEF to become familiar with new technology before it becomes mainstream. The Fund is particularly interested in investing in rapidly-changing technology areas such as blockchain, which may have application to identity; 3-D printing, which can help us understand the future of supply chain; and areas of big data and network infrastructure which will help us do our jobs faster and better. Investing in companies which have expertise in this space allows UNICEF to use its global scale to connect companies to each other and help them go faster, and also helps UNICEF unearth solutions that we might not have otherwise known about.
In February 2016, UNICEF launched its first call for technology startups that meet the Fund’s criteria to apply for funding. The Fund received more than 640 applications from 92 countries. By the end of 2016, the Fund will make its first funding decisions and will issue the second open call for applications.