UNICEF’s Innovation Fund Gives a Fillip to Social Uses of Blockchain

The UNICEF Innovation Fund, formed to finance early stage and open-source technology for the benefit of children, is planning to invest $100,000 to support blockchain development projects. The investment will be made in six blockchain startups- Atix Labs (Argentina based software development company), Onesmart and Prescrypto (two Mexican companies), Statwig (an Indian startup), Utopixar (Tunisian apps development startup), and W3 Engineers (a web app development firm in Bangladesh). All the six companies belong to developing and emerging economies, and they will be using UNICEF’s Innovation Fund to address some of the global healthcare-related challenges using blockchain technology.

“These investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain explorations of using smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology both in the United Nations and in the countries where UNICEF works”, states a press release from UNICEF.

The selected companies are expected to deliver open-source prototypes of blockchain applications within 12-months. The prototypes and systems developed will be meant to address global challenges such as transparency in healthcare delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects. The six firms will be joining the bandwagon of 20 other technology startups that are already covered by the UNICEF Innovation Fund. Besides funding, UNICEF’s Innovation Fund will offer product and technology assistance to these companies.

Some of the blockchain projects planned under the scheduled investment include:

  • a platform for small to medium-sized enterprises to gain access to funding, create traceability into the usage of funds, and measure the impact

  • a digital solution to overcome the absence of electronic prescriptions in developing countries, which enables medical service providers to get a single, common view of a patient’s medical history, thereby improving the level of care

  • use blockchain solutions to ensure the efficient delivery of vaccines by creating an enhanced supply-chain management system

  • a social collaboration tool for communities and organizations to facilitate participative decision-making and value transfer

Blockchain technology is still at an early stage, and there is a huge scope left for experimentation, trial, and learning. Apart from Blockchain, UNICEF’s Innovation Fund aims to create a better world by identifying solutions in multiple tech areas like machine learning, quantum computing, IoT, and AI.

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