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UNICEF looking to invest in early stage start-ups developing software solutions on open blockchains

The UNICEF Innovation Fund [1] is looking to invest in companies developing software solutions on open blockchains [2].  

UNICEF will provide $50-90,000 in the form of equity-free investments in early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity.

The Fund is looking for start-ups registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries with a working, open source prototype (or if they willing to make it open-source). The solutions should be scalable and globally applicable.

Software solutions could be related to smart contracts, data analysis, crypto-tokens or crypto-currency mining. The Call goes on to provide a non-comprehensive list of potential applications the Fund would be interested in.

For instance, the startups could explore the use of smart contracts to replicate and improve on existing organisational mechanisms; enhance efficiencies, transparencies, and accountabilities in contractual engagements (i.e. multi-signatory contracts that guarantee certain actors were involved); boost transparency in distribution of resources by better tracking of movement of money; or support interactions across groups (what would a SWIFT code for development look like, if described in Solidity)

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is also interested in using machine learning to understand the activities on public blockchains; using crypto-flows to help organisations and governments do and understand their transactions more efficiently; or using blockchain data to solve humanitarian challenges, for example, using bitcoin data (bitcoin is used for illegal transactions on the dark web because of the anonymity afforded by it) to fight human trafficking.

Crypto tokens could be used to incentivise or support behaviour that benefits humanity or various tokens could be connected to each other. In addition, non-fungible tokens (non-fungible tokens are supposed to represent a real word asset that is unique and non-divisible unlike cash or other currencies) could be used for social good.

Another example given is the use of passive distributed mining networks to create investment funding opportunities for the UNICEF Venture Fund.  

Funding opportunities are not limited to the above-mentioned examples of software solutions.

[1] The UNICEF Innovation Fund is a pooled funding vehicle to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that have been developed in new and emerging markets. It invests in solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. The Fund finds that these solutions are clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, machine learning, quantum computing, genetic engineering, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics.

[2] Open or public, permissionless blockchains are blockchains in which anyone can participate in principle. Anyone can connect to the protocol and either transact over the blockchain or view the transactions taking place on the blockchain. The network usually will have an incentivising mechanism to encourage more participants to join the network. An example would be the bitcoin network. In contrast, only parties who have been granted access (‘permission’) may participate in transacting, mining, or viewing transactions in private, permissioned blockchains. Permission could be granted by existing participants; or by a regulatory authority or a consortium. Hyperledger Fabric and Ripple are examples. Both types are decentralised peer-to-peer networks, where each participant maintains a replica of a shared append-only ledger of digitally signed transactions. 

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