In January this year, UNICEF called for early-stage technology startups that were registered in any of UNICEF’s multiple programme countries. More than 100 startups from 50 different countries applied. And almost after a year of publishing the ‘blockchain call’, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has invested in six blockchain startups, including one from India.
The innovation fund already has invested in 20 more technology startups from data science, machine learning, drones and virtual reality sectors. The latest investments form a part of wider blockchain strategy for the humanitarian agency, according to a press release issued by UNICEF.
The organizations are trying to use smart-contracts for creating a distributed decision-making process, improve organizational efficiencies, and working to build an understanding of distributed ledger technology in the United Nations and the countries where UNICEF works.
And for achieving this goal, UNICEF will invest up to $100,000 (around INR 70 lakhs) in six startups including Atix Labs, Prescrypto, StaTwig, Onesmart, Utopixar, and W3 Engineers. The startups are required to deliver their open-source blockchain applications prototypes within the next 12 months.
So here is the list of 6 startups that will receive funds from UNICEF
Atix Labs is based in Argentina and is creating a platform for small and medium-sized businesses to access funding in a way which offers traceability about the utilization of the funds.
Onesmart is developing an application to ensure the delivery of state-provided social services, addressing the issue of the misuse of social funds in emerging markets. The startup is based in Mexico.
The second in Mexico, Prescrypto, will improve the availability of electronic prescriptions by building a platform for patient medical histories. Founded by Everardo Barojas in 2016, it is an app for doctors, clinics and pharmacies that can create, send, and track electronic prescriptions. The startup provides a super simple web app for electronic medical prescriptions – from the ground up, they’ve built an infrastructure that can create, send/print and track electronic medical prescriptions, from creation to actual sale.
India-based StaTwig is creating a blockchain solution for the supply-chain management of vaccines to improve the efficiency of vaccine delivery. The startup is headquartered in Hyderabad and was founded by Sid Chakravarthy in 2016. StaTwig is an early stage IoT and Blockchain SaaS startup focused to solve the problem of global wastage in vaccines and food caused due to the inefficiencies in Supply Chain.
Utopixar, based in Tunisia, will build a social tool for decision-making and the transfer of value which will be used by communities and other organisations.
In neighbouring Bangladesh, W3 Engineers are hoping to connect migrant and refugee communities with an offline mobile networking platform that doesn’t need a sim card or stable internet connection. Founded in 2009, they were the first to develop apps powered by RightMesh mobile mesh networking technology which enables connectivity even when no Internet or cellular service is available.
Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser at UNICEF Innovation, said, “Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world. The Fund chooses to invest in companies when its financing and technical support in areas of “vulnerable” populations can help technology “grow and mature in the fairest and equitable way possible.”
The Innovation Fund set by UNICEF will provide growth assistance and access to its network of partners and experts. Additionally, the fund will assist the startups with their further investment rounds. UNICEF will apply the technologies developed by these startups in 190 countries covered by the organization.