Ecosystem

UNICEF is looking for accelerators in MENA to design programs for open source startups in the region

UNICEF had launched its Innovation Fund in 2015 with the aim to finance early stage open-source technology startups that can benefit children. The fund since launching has raised $16 million and now invests in 20 startups every year. The organization had invited open-source startups from MENA as well to apply and secure up to $90,000 equity-free funding – at least one startup from the region has secured equity-free funding from them.

The organization is now looking to partner with accelerators in the Middle East & North Africa to design and implement programs for open source startups in the region, UNICEF announced in a statement to MENAbytes.

“UNICEF is calling for accelerators to design and implement a 6-month acceleration program to encourage and support Open Source Innovation in emerging technology. Accelerators operating in one or more of these countries are highly encouraged to apply (Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan) with the option of applying to cover multiple countries,” said the statement.

The accelerator partners are supposed to run a tailored program for the open source startups in emerging technology areas. Graduates of these programs will be automatically considered for further investment by UNICEF’s Innovation Fund and other investment vehicles.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund has been designed with an aim to finance early stage, open-source technology that can benefit children.

“The core motivation of the Innovation Fund is to identify “clusters” or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology – so that UNICEF can both shape markets and also learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children. We invest in solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. We find these solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics,” added the statement.

It also noted that the innovation ecosystem in the MENA region has been growing at a significant rate especially in emerging technology areas including data science, UAVs, blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, VR/AR and through the Open Source Accelerator, UNICEF aims to promote open source innovation that can impact the lives of children and young people.

The organization is also looking for private sector partners who are interested in innovation and would like to become a part of first-of-its-kind startup support program across four countries in MENA.

The accelerators can apply to join as implementing partner here and the corporates can get in touch with Mariam Soliman, Partnerships & Private Sector Associate at masoliman [at] unicef [dot] org to learn more about the program and its engagement opportunities for private sector partners.

Deadline expected to receive proposals is Dec 23, 2018, at 11 PM at the latest.

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