UNICEF Innovation Fund Wants to Invest in Blockchain Startups

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UNICEF is inviting technology start-ups developing solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children to apply for funding from its recently launched Innovation Fund.

“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,” said Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead. said.

“The purpose of the UNICEF Innovation Fund is to invest in open source technologies for children,” added Fabian. “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.”

To qualify for funding, projects must be open source and have a working prototype. They can involve developing a new technology, or expanding or improving an already existing one.

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, which has raised $9 million so far, offers innovators in developing countries a pooled funding mechanism to help them take their tested projects to the next stage. The fund focuses its investments on three portfolio areas:

• 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.

Applications will be assessed according to a number of criteria including the strength of the team, the project’s relevance to children, and the ability to see potential future value in the open source intellectual property being created.

UNICEF Innovation has previously invested in technology solutions, such as RapidSMS, RapidPro and U-Report, which now reach millions of users.

Submissions of Expressions of Interest must be received no later than 26 February 2016. Further information is available at www.unicefinnovationfund.org.

About Richard Kastelein

Founder of industry publication Blockchain News, partner at ICO services collective CryptoAsset Design Group (helped raise over $200m+), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) and ICO event organiser at leading industry event  CryptoFinancing (first ICO event in Europe) – Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of half a dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1200 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat.
 
Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London, Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, San Mateo, Shanghai,Tel Aviv and Venice. His network is global and extensive.
 
He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He’s written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French.
 
A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein’s professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he’s travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world.
 
In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Seas’ travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he’s raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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