Apply for the UNICEF Innovation Fund for Data Science & AI Startups (Up to $100k in Funding)


If you run a data science or artificial intelligence (AI) startup and are looking for funding, then the UNICEF Innovation Fund is for you!

About the Fund:

UNICEF is looking to make up to $100 000 in zero-equity investments in data science, machine learning and AI solutions that have the potential to benefit humanity. Through the fund UNICEF aims to finance open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives.

To date, the fund has made 72 investments in 42 countries and is looking to invest in 20 startups this year. Last month the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced 13 new investments of up to $100 000. At least four of these were in African companies from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Tunisia.

UNICEF’s call for applications is aimed at companies that can, among other things, do the following:

  • Apply deep learning to analyze satellite imagery and automatically map infrastructure such as schools, health centers, roads or cell towers.
  • Use digital footprints from sources like social media or mobility patterns to understand public spaces.
  • Explore ML/AI techniques to help us better understand the physical world that we live in and its rapidly changing environments.
  • Use natural language processing or similar techniques to analyse large amounts of text.
  • Use machine learning and AI to understand content structures and knowledge as well as learning relationships.
  • Explore machine learning or AI techniques to help better understand the digital world and its rapidly dynamics as well as changing trends.
  • Use machine learning or AI to understand the relationships between different variables that impact development indicators.
  • Apply optimisation techniques to improve service delivery, resource allocation or content delivery.
  • Use predictive analysis to understand changes in the world such as job market trends or the supply and demand of skills.
  • Gather and combine existing data from different sources.
  • Generate new data through field data collection, crowdsourcing or social network platforms.
  • Use novel approaches to generate, as well as to validate large amounts of training data.


  • You must be registered as a private company in a UNICEF programme country;
  • You are working on open source technology solutions or willing to be open-source under the following licenses or their equivalent: BSD (software), CERN (hardware), or CC-BY (content).
  • You have an existing prototype of the solution with promising results from initial pilots.
  • Your solution has the potential to positively impact society.
  • Your company does not have to be fully down the road of having a ready product, it can be at the very beginning. The funding is intended to seed an exploration within a company that already exists, that has a strong team and a prototype, and that can be profitable, and successful in the space of data-science.

Benefits of the UNICEF Innovation Fund:

  • Seed funding. The Fund provides up to $100,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for you to validate and test your prototype, and get it to a stage where the company has proof that your solution works.
  • Product and technology development. Selected startups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions. Additionally, startups are plugged into a data-science focused cohort where they will be connected with other companies working on similar solutions, exchange lessons learned and share critical data.
  • Business Growth. The Fund taps into a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their companies and ultimately profit.
  • Data networks and platforms.  UNICEF Ventures has a dedicated Data-Science team since 2014, developing partnerships, data platforms, and use cases. Through our network, you can get access to world-class researchers, corporate partnerships, and additional datasets. Read about our latest partnership stories here.
  • Maximize impact for children. As the world’s leading organisation for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide geographically localized advice on your solution, assess its impact, and develop partnerships needed to reach more users.

How to Apply:

Click here to get started.

Application Deadline:

Feb 28, 2019 | Women led projects are encouraged to apply. 


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