VR Films Work Great for Charity. What About Changing Minds?
UNICEF holds Innovation Conference in Scotland

By Pilar Lagos

Hi there UNICEFStories Readers. Happy Leap Year! In case you missed our latest blogs, here’s a recap of some of the top stories published on UNICEF Innovation’s blog during February. Click away:


Stories about UNICEF’s Innovation Fund:

  • UNICEF Innovation Fund to invest in open source tech startups
    During the month of February, UNICEF invited technology startups 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. “The purpose of the UNICEF Innovation Fund is to invest in open source technologies for children,” said Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead.
  • UNICEF is looking to invest in tech that helps children in need
    The $9 million Innovation Fund will support innovators from developing countries with projects that are open source and have a have working prototype. To read the article, click here.
  • UNICEF to invest in tech startups to help children
    UNICEF plans to invest in startups in a bid to create solutions that would improve the lives of vulnerable children across the globe. Its Innovation Fund aims to invest in open source technologies and some of the areas it has identified are blockchain, 3D printing, wearables and sensors, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. Read the complete article here.
  • UN invests $9m in ‘open source’ tech to save children’s lives
    The $9 million from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund will go to around 50 to 60 startups using open source technology that have working prototypes. Read the complete article here.
  • UNICEF Eyes Blockchain as Possible Solution to Child Poverty Issues
    In a new interview with CoinDesk, Chris Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead, said that UNICEF has spent months discussing blockchain tech internally and how it could provide a solution to issues facing the world’s impoverished children. Read the article here.
  • Sunita Grote talks about UNICEF’s Innovation Fund on Power FM’s #PowerHour
    On 4 February, Sunita Grote, UNICEF Innovation Fund Manager, spoke with Nnamdi Oranye and Victor Kgomoeswana from Power FM 98.7, a radio station in South Africa. Listen to the interview here.
  • UNICEF is Investing $9 Million in Open Source Tech Solutions for Children
    UNICEF wants to support innovative programs in a way that goes beyond large grants to nonprofits. The agency will put $9 million toward early-stage startups that focus on empowering young people with technology and providing real-time data about underserved populations. Read the article here.
  • UNICEF is Launching a Venture fund for Open-Source Civic Technology
    From unmanned aerial vehicles to 3D printing, new technology has a lot of potential to “flatten” the world and spread social good. And now, by launching its first venture capital-type fund for civic technology, the United Nations wants to accelerate the development of those ideas. To read the article, click here.
  • UNICEF Steps into a Venture Capitalist’s Shoes to Invest in Open Source Technologies for Children
    After raising $9 million in a first investment round, the organization spent the last half of 2015 making about 20 investments across three portfolio areas: ranging from products aimed at boosting youth learning and youth participation, to improving real‐time information for decision making, or setting up the infrastructures needed to increase access to services and information.

Stories about Mobile World Congress:

  • Mobile World Congress: Enlightening technology points to age of inclusion
    UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony delivered his keynote address at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where he talked about how mobile has helped UNICEF tackle disease, fight poverty, and even protect children fleeing the ravages of war. To re-watch his keynote message, click here.
  • How UNICEF uses mobile to ‘access a different view of the world’ and tackle issues faced by young people
    UNICEF innovation co-lead, Chris Fabian, spoke to The Drum ahead of the UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake’s keynote address at Mobile World Congress. Read the article here.
  • Sharad Sapra (UNICEF): “Poner cerebros a trabajar conjuntamente es algo tan simple como tener un móvil y SMS” (Spanish)
    At Mobile World Congress, Sharad spoke with Spanish media outlet RTVE about the Global Innovation Centre and the importance of scale-up. Know Spanish? Read the article here.
  • Small Messages, Big Change: How UNICEF works with Mobile Network Operators to Create a Fair Future for Children
    Great thought piece written by Chris Fabian. Chris explains how and why UNICEF uses open-source technology — particularly technology driven by mobile — to build services that support children.

Team Spotlight Profiles:

  • UNICEF Innovation Team Spotlight: Caroline Muhwezi
    Meet Caroline Muhwezi, our awesome U-Report Nigeria Project Officer. Caroline is passionate about children and youth participation. She strongly believes that children are experts of children. Read her complete profile here.
  • UNICEF Innovation Team Spotlight: Josh Harvey
    Meet Josh Harvey, Innovations Lab Lead and Innovations Specialist. Josh believes that people want to help people, no matter their own challenges. Read more about Josh here.
  • UNICEF Innovation Team Spotlight: Tanya Accone
    Meet Tanya Accone, Senior Adviser on Innovation and Deputy of UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre based in Bangkok. Tanya’s best advice? “Be open, intrigued and curious. Fail fast, reflect and share what you learn.” Read Tanya’s profile and get inspired.
  • UNICEF Innovation Team Spotlight: Jeff Hall
    Meet Jeff Hall, Innovation Lab Lead, UNICEF Indonesia Jakarta office. The biggest risk that Jeff has ever taken was moving to Indonesia. Jeff is always amazed to see what Indonesian youth build and come up with.
  • UNICEF Innovation Team Spotlight: Mari Nakano
    Meet Mari Nakano, our Visual Strategy Lead. The world looks better when she’s around.

Other Stories:

A- For Chris and Erica’s 2015 Predictions
A retrospective look at Erica Kochi’s and Chris Fabian’s 2015 predictions on innovation and development.

UNICEF holds Innovation Conference in Scotland
UNICEF with support from Entrepreneurial Scotland and Informatic Ventures, hosted ‘Innovation for Every Child: Scotland Reimagines the Future’ at the Informatics Ventures in Edinburgh. Sharad Sapra, Global Director of UNICEF Innovation and Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland and Chair of Informatics Ventures Advisory Board, led a discussion around how the Scottish technology sector can play a leading role in developing innovative solutions to help children around the world.

Making a classroom where you are
In January, Norway and a coalition of partners announced a contest to develop a smartphone-based app to help Syrian children ages 5 to 10 gain basic Arabic reading and writing skills during the refugee crisis. The contest, called EduApp4Syria, will award $1.7 million for the winning developer or team to create the project. UNICEF’s Innovation Unit will be providing the project with funding and advice. Read the story here.

Changing young Liberia through Innovation
Pascal Wilson, UNICEF’s u-Report coordinator in Liberia, shares how U-Report has transformed the lives of some youth in Liberia and U-Report’s potential to get information to policy-makers in a country where youth once relied on the power of a gun.

Design for UNICEF class challenges students to seek out solutions for children
During a Design for UNICEF class at Tsinghua University, UNICEF China staff members presented three use cases from its current portfolio of health, education and social policy activities. The students conducted focus group discussions, surveys, and reported back on findings.

Planning Field Trials of Innovative Diagnostics for Pneumonia with UNICEF Ethiopia
What does it take to conduct a field trial? Read about Jonathan’s visit to Ethiopia and his journey planning field trials of innovative pneumonia diagnostics as part of the ARIDA project.

Intel Collaborates with University of Nairobi to Launch Tech Incubation Programs for Startups
The University of Nairobi will host a tech incubation program at the C4DLab (Computing for Development lab) that will allow participants to learn Design Thinking Courses in partnership with UNICEF in order to create technology prototypes that fill genuine gaps in society.

An UPSHIFT Journey: From Kosovo to Vietnam
In 2014, UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo developed and launched the first UPSHIFT programme ever. UPSHIFT seeks to create youth-led social impact programs by providing them with the necessary skill training, financial resources, and mentorship.

With nearly 43% of the total population of Vietnam and 45% in Ho Chi Minh City, under the age of 25, UPSHIFT was the perfect fit to pilot in Vietnam. The results? Impressive.

UPSHIFT Vietnam: Tuan Nguyen and team aim to build a job-seeking website to help bridge the gap between blind people, their abilities and employers
In Vietnam, blind people are known for doing odd jobs, like selling lottery tickets or making handcrafts. Since losing his eyesight, Tuấn Nguyễn, an IT teacher, is determined to create equal job opportunities for blind people. How? By creating a job searching platform for blind people. Read Tuấn Nguyễn’s story.

UPSHIFT Vietnam: Kim Van is fulfilling her dream of helping people with disabilities overcome challenges in daily transportation
A look into the life of Kim Van, who participated at UPSHIFT Vietnam and is determined to help people with disabilities navigate public transportation. Read Kim Van’s story.

UPSHIFT Vietnam: The Journey Continues
During a three-day intensive boot camp at the end of November 2015, these 10 teams continued on with their UPSHIFT journey in Vietnam. In this phase, teams were exposed to skillsets they needed in order to design, build, and test their products as well execute and manage their projects.

Why we need to shake up workshops at international organizations with Open Space Technology
Marcelo Ber, Regional business and children rights focal point at UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, shares his thoughts on the importance of rethinking how to deliver workshops to engage participants as co-creators and fully collaborative members within international organizations.

How These Game-Changers Are Responding to the Current Refugees Crisis
What if a group of unusual suspects, thought-leaders, could come up with a potential solution that could be a game-changer?

Working and Playing at the UNICEF Innovation Unit
Last fall, Bhavika Aggarwal volunteered with the Visual Strategy team as a Design Fellow. During her fellowship, Bhavika discovered that the design process at the Innovation Unit is dynamic, iterative and intensely collaborative. Read her blog here.

Why and How the International Development Community is Going Open
A fantastic thought piece on the Digital Principles and the role that it plays in the international development community. Written by Nathaniel Calhoun, who is on the Global Impact Faculty at Singularityu.org.

VR Films Work Great for Charity. What About Changing Minds?
UNICEF holds Innovation Conference in Scotland