Unicef, as an innovation fund of the UN Children’s Fund, has opened up a call for startups that are developing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology to apply for the next cohort they offer by September 17th. The company is offering seed funding equity-free with amounts between $50,000 and $90,000 going to promising start-ups that have the potential to massively improve the lives of children.
The Innovation Fund will also provide support to accelerate your work in order to give you access to those who need it most. This might include more funding and various other options, depending on the project.
Those interested in qualifying must be registered private companies in one of the program countries for the company. Startups must also be involved in VR or AR and have a working prototype at the time of submission. They must also be either working on open-source technology or be open to allowing their technology be open-source through a CC-BY, CERN, or BSD license.
Those who are chosen by Unicef will receive access to their Innovation’s venture team, providing startups with technical support in emerging technology, advice on open source licenses, and networking opportunities with investors and partners who can help startups grow their business and profits while scaling their technology. You will have a dedicated advisor who helps you and gets you connect with startups in the same area so you can exchange data and lessons and work together to find innovative solutions.
The fund is worth about $11.2 million and has already invested in 35 different projects in 28 countries around the world since its launch in 2016. The three portfolios of the fund include infrastructure, real-time information, and products for children. Those who have previously received funding include projects related to e-reading applications, chatbots that can detect malnutrition and low-cost solutions for communications.
The focus of this particular cohort revolves around the development of AR and VR that assists with storytelling, learning, and understanding data in complex situations and environments.
Learning content includes teaching someone to do a simple task, but in many languages and with higher motivation levels and retention rates than normal. Examples include teaching seamstresses’ new procedures, recognizing malnutrition in toddlers, and learning how to install a water pump. Unicef is also interested in VR/AR that present news of increasing access to experiential learning, especially for those with disabilities.
As for data and complex environments, they are looking for ways to access copious amounts of data and then decipher that data in a better way. This would include getting a quick picture or idea from a sophisticated collection of data. An example is converting GIS data points from refugee camps into VR for better planning.
When it comes to storytelling, they simply want to see new and innovative ways of using VR and AR to tell stories, especially when bridging cultural gaps and creating new dialogue.