UNICEF Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) for
Open Source Technology Solutions for Children

Subject: Open source technology solutions for children
Date of the EOI: 1 Feb 2016
Closing Date of the EOI: 26 February 2016


UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) is an international, intergovernmental organization established by the General Assembly of the United Nations by resolution No. 57(1) of 11 December, 1946 as a subsidiary organ of the United Nations, having its headquarters in New York, with offices in over 160 countries spanning 260 locations.

UNICEF works with governments, civil society organizations, and other organizations around the world to advance children’s rights to survival, protection, health, development and participation and is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF invites expressions of interest to receive funding that will be made available through the UNICEF Innovation Fund. The Fund provides investment-style funding for early-stage, open source technology solutions that address the most pressing challenges faced by children and young people. Expressions of interest are invited from companies/institutions registered in UNICEF’s programme countries. Interested companies must meet the criteria required to be eligible  for funding as detailed below.

The Fund does not help large companies to create new business lines. The purpose of the Innovation Fund is to support new solutions from small businesses in markets that many companies or investors consider risky while UNICEF sees these markets as sources of opportunity. UNICEF will support companies registered in these markets in UNICEF’s programme countries- with a small amount of money to move solutions to the stage where these are proven to be workable and can be implemented.

The Innovation Fund does not take equity, instead UNICEF requires that all code, content or hardware developed and tested be open source and be publically available. The Innovation Fund provides money, technical support and a network to help such companies grow.  Funded projects will be connected to other similar early-stage projects in other countries, which should enable projects to develop faster and better. UNICEF will provide some technical support from the Innovation Unit as well.

UNICEF is seeking companies/institutions to respond to this Expression of Interest –EOI, for open source technology solutions for children. This REOI will lead to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued to eligible institutions which will result in the establishment of Institutional Contracts with a selected number of successful vendors for a period of one year.

UNICEF will consider applications for funding of approximately up to US$100,000. Considerations of Expressions of Interest with ideas that require more funding that the indicated amount will only be considered by UNICEF at its sole discretion and if this is is in the best interests of UNICEF.

Description of requirements
Eligibility criteria:
UNICEF is looking to provide investment-style funding to early-stage tech startups. Only entities that fulfill these mandatory requirements will be eligible:

●        A private company/institution registered in a UNICEF programme country (see list here)
●        Working on open source technology solutions (or willing to be open source) under the following licenses: 

Software: BSD, AGPL, LGPL
Content and designs: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA or CC-BY

●        Projects funded need to increase the ability of children to access information and to increase opportunity and choice.  Specifically, projects should align with one of UNICEF Innovation’s three portfolio areas:

  1. products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation
  2. real-time information for decision making and governance
  3. infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport.

●        Generating publicly exposed real-time data that can be / is measured

Additional Criteria
In addition to the mandatory requirements above, companies/institutions submitting expressions of interest are expected to have:

  1. A small team that has been working on something for a few months with an active prototype that works.
  2. A prototype that aligns with UNICEF’s Innovation Principles
  3. A project that is either:
    ●     Developing new technology
    ●     Expanding/ improving existing technology/ platform (i.e. it will be in a place where the technology is being used...but will involve new tech being built)
    ●     Piloting a new use case for existing technology (i.e little or no new tech will be built and it will be used in the same place)
    ●     Scaling existing, initial pilot to new areas (i.e. no significant new tech, but also this will be in a new country or region
  4. A need for a small amount of money to get it to the stage where the company has proof that the solution works for other people. Maybe another developer or two are needed, design help to communicate what the project can do or some server space. Refactoring something into a new language because the initial one won’t scale. Testing it in a new area.  Getting some data points. These are not huge financial investments, but they are what the Innovation Fund can help with, as UNICEF Innovation supports the acceleration of the company’s work.
  5. The next stage after that proof would be going for more funding (this could be private sector investment (yep! they do invest in open source products) or grant-funding, or other; depending on the type of technology and solution.
  6. Under the three portfolio areas, UNICEF is most interested in some of these emerging technology spaces such as blockchain, 3D printing, data, personal/social communications networks, satellites, wearables and sensors, mobile devices, UAVs, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. However, if the project is based on something else and it’s awesome….don’t worry if it’s not on the list, this can still be considered.
  7. The project can provide UNICEF with real-time data about something (number of users, database queries, transactions, missions run, ping times, whatever.) that can be connected through the Internet.  This data will be shown in real-time on the Innovation Fund website, that provides real-time reporting on each of the Fund’s investments.

Interested companies are required to complete and submit the EOI Response form and provide the information and supporting documents indicated in the form. EOIs Response forms must be submitted through this link, not later than 1800hrs (Eastern Standard Time) on 26 February 2016.

This REOI does not constitute a solicitation. UNICEF does not require bids or proposals at this stage; this request is merely seeking an expression of interest in participating in the tender.

A response to this Request for Expression of Interest does not automatically ensure that submitting companies/institutions will be selected to participate in the subsequent Request for Proposals.

UNICEF reserves the right to change or cancel the requirement at any time during the REOI and/or solicitation process. UNICEF also reserves the right to require compliance with additional conditions as and when issuing the final tender/RFPS document.

If you have any additional question about this REOI, please submit questions through THIS FORM. Questions can be submitted until  16 February 2016 1800 EST. Answers to all questions submitted will be shared publicly. 

Expressions of interest will be scored according to the following criteria:

CRITERIA Possible score
Mandatory requirements
Registered in a UNICEF programme country (see list here) Yes/no
Working on open source solutions (or willing to be open source) under the following licenses:
Software: BSD, AGPL, LGPL
Content and designs: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA or CC-BY
Working on a technology solution that aligns with three portfolio areas:
(1) products for youth under 25 to address a range of needs including learning and youth participation;
(2) real-time information for decision making and governance
(3) infrastructure to increase access to services and information, including but not limited to connectivity, power, finance, sensors and transport.
Generating publicly exposed real-time data that can be / is measured Yes/no
Relevance of solution for children and young people, potential impact on access to information, opportunity and choice, and potential for application at global scale 20
Novelty of project and alignment with Innovation Principles and desired stage of development 30
Suitability of the team and key personnel to implement the project 30
Project budget and financing 20
Total score 100

View this PDF to preview the questions and prepare your submissions. 

Questions about the Request for Expressions of Interest?
See our Frequently Asked Questions or submit a new question here