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UNICEF Innovation Fund Call for XR Technologies

VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality) technologies – grouped together under the term of XR (Extended Reality) – can be used to solve real human problems. UNICEF is investing in XR applications to identify scalable solutions that have the potential to enhance the organization’s ability to reach and assist children in its programme countries. To learn about UNICEF programmes and initiatives, click here.

What we are looking for:
The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for start-ups that are developing and piloting new open source XR solutions. We are looking to make investments in 1) software for authoring or consuming these new realities, 2) platforms and ways providing wider access to that software, 3) platforms and ways providing better tools for content creation (such as a template, workflow, or format), and 4) particular applications of content. We are interested in prototypes that:

  • Impact specific areas of UNICEF’s programmatic work (see what UNICEF does here)
  • Teach the language of XR
  • Reduce friction & increase XR accessibility (incl. WebVR based solutions)
  • Use AI in XR
Be mindful of context. Be daring. Be part of something bigger.
Keep in mind the specific contexts in which UNICEF operates: limited bandwidth, difficult to access areas and emphasis on affordability should be strongly taken into consideration. Think about our user. As a part of this cohort, you’ll be part of a community of start-ups working on XR technologies and have a dedicated adviser to support you on appropriate open source licenses, community building, and networking with leaders in the XR space. We fund groups of companies from similar spaces to introduce them to each other’s and work on solutions that push the technology forward.
 
When to apply?
We encourage you to submit your application when ready as we will be reviewing on an ongoing basis. Only shortlisted companies will be contacted and then requested to submit a more in-depth proposal.

Who can apply?
Start-ups registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries (
see complete list here) and have a working, open source prototype (hardware, content or software). Check out eligibility criteria for the Innovation Fund under www.unicefinnovationfund.org/#/submit and find an overview of the process here.

The Fund provides early-stage seed funding to start-ups with a strong team and a clear path to impact on children’s lives. For this cohort, we are looking for startups with a working XR prototype (hardware, software or content).


What does the UNICEF Innovation Fund provide?

Seed funding
The Fund provides $50-90,000 in equity-free seed funding. You might need a small amount of money to get your prototype to the stage where the company has proof that the solution works for other people. Maybe another developer or two are needed, design help to communicate what the project can do or some server space. Refactoring something into a new language because the initial one won’t scale. Testing it in a new area. Getting some data points.


The UNICEF Innovation Fund can help to support the acceleration of your company’s work. The next stage after that proof would be pursuing more funding (this could be 
private sector investment or grant-funding, or other; depending on the type of technology and solution).

Product and technology development
Receiving investment from the Innovation Fund also provides access to the UNICEF Innovation Ventures team. The team provides technical assistance in emerging technology areas, which is accessible to companies receiving investment. In addition, you can also join a technology-focused cohort (e.g XR technologies cohort). As part of a cohort, you receive support from a dedicated adviser who can help you select the most appropriate open source license, help create a community around your product and network with leaders in your space. You will also be directly connected with other start-ups working on similar solutions, exchange lessons learned and critical data.


Growing your business
The UNICEF Venture Fund taps into a network of mentors and advisers who can help you develop your business model and strategy. We invest in companies with a sustainable approach that will ultimately grow your business and profit, and help companies build up a community of developers and contributors around open solutions. UNICEF Ventures also facilitates access to networks of partners, funders and investors that can help scale your solutions after this early-stage investment. Through partnerships with leading accelerators in your region, UNICEF facilitates access to business support.


Maximizing impact for children
As the world’s leading organisation for children, UNICEF has experts across its Country Offices and partners who can advise on the development of your solution, how to assess its impact and partnerships needed to reach more users. Check out 
www.unicefinnovationfund.org and our FAQ’s for more information.