How can tech help our children? Find out at the Global Innovations for Children and Youth Summit
October 2015 Recap: Must-Read Stories


Innovators determined to advance results for children

Helsinki Innovation Summit explores new solutions to benefit the world’s children

Young Ugandans gather around to use UNICEF’s unique innovation the solar-powered Digital Drum, at Bosco Youth Centre in Gulu, Uganda. The Digital Drum was this month chosen as one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2011. About 10 per cent of Ugandans currently use the Internet, and a majority of Ugandans live in rural settings with little to no access to information across areas of health, education, job training, and protection from violence and abuse. The poorest, most isolated and vulnerable children and youth are hit hardest from this lack of access when they do not benefit from crucial services and resources that could improve their health, safety and future. In response, UNICEF is developing these rugged computer kiosks that will serve as information access points aimed at youth and their communities. The computers will be pre-loaded with dynamic multimedia content on health, job training, education opportunities, and other services. The innovation is being developed and tested in Uganda by UNICEF’s Technology for Development unit. The Digital Drum is a computer built into an oil drum. It was designed by UNICEF Uganda's Technology 4 Development Unit in partnership with other companies. The drums have been installed in youth centers and other areas so that kids can have access to computers. The computers have preloaded content that youth can access. (Bosco Youth Center, Gulu)
Children in Uganda gather around to use UNICEF’s solar-powered Digital Drum, at Bosco Youth Centre in Gulu, northern Uganda. Photo: UNICEF/UGDA2011-00093/Tylle

HELSINKI/NEW YORK, 9 November 2015 – Over 500 leading thinkers from the technological, academic, corporate, development and humanitarian world are convening in Helsinki today to unlock the way new technologies can drive change for the world’s most vulnerable children.

“Technology and new ways of thinking can help us reach the most marginalized children faster and more efficiently than ever before,” said Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “Sharing innovations with children and making them part of the solution can help us turn cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity and progress, not just for them but for their communities and nations.”

Organized by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and UNICEF, ‘Start Up To Scale Up’ is the first global summit on innovations for children and youth. It aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the potential impact innovations can have on improving children’s lives and realizing their rights;
  • Create new partnerships to advance and scale up innovative solutions for children;
  • Activate support from partners to help amplify proven, high-impact innovations for children worldwide; and
  • Develop new localized innovations that will help lift children out of poverty.

“We are happy to host this event in Helsinki,” said Lenita Toivakka, Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development. “Finland is repeatedly listed as one of the world’s most innovative economies. We strongly believe that in order to find solutions to the pressing problems children are facing and to implement the global sustainable development agenda we need new ways of thinking and doing development cooperation, increased investments in innovation, and maybe most importantly, improved commitment to partnerships in doing so.”

Participants will examine which opportunities from the technological and private sector can have the biggest impact on children over the next five years, how a more connected world can deal with more frequent emergencies, how wider connectivity affects learning, and how to prepare a more resilient planet.

They will also explore emerging areas such as: social data; access to information through satellite infrastructure; wearables for personal and planetary health; games and behaviour change; the role of entertainment and media in scaling up innovations for children; learning in 2020 and beyond; and the future of jobs and job training.

The summit is held in collaboration with Slush, a start-up and technology conference held in Finland every year bringing together entrepreneurs and international investors.

Note to editors:

For a full list of participants, a detailed agenda and livestream information, please visit: You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #uinnovate, or by visiting our platforms @UNICEF, @UNICEFTalk and @UNICEFInnovate. To learn more about UNICEF’s work in innovations, visit:

For further information, please contact:
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804,
Kirsi Pere, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, +358 50 462 6313,

How can tech help our children? Find out at the Global Innovations for Children and Youth Summit
October 2015 Recap: Must-Read Stories