UNICEF seeking drone tech for public good to fund

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for open-source drone technology service providers to invest in, who are willing to use their drone services for the greater good of humanity.

It now goes without saying how valuable drones have been to mankind, especially during the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic where drone technology has racked in hundreds of kilometres in flight times, delivering emergency medical supplies to previously hard to access areas. With the new proposed programme, UNICEF and its partners want to test how far drone technology can go in making the deliveries that have become commonplace in pandemic times a more permanent feature of the lower skies linking remote areas to medical hubs in urban areas.

The deadline for applications is December 2020.

Qualifying start-up stand to receive a cash injection of up to $100,000 as seed capital into their projects whose primary focus should be on taking mankind a step closer to realising its health goals through UAV deployment.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drone-based technologies and services are demonstrating the ability to deliver life-saving materials, and in so doing, generate substantial social benefits,” UNICEF said in a statement. “UNICEF and partners are exploring and assessing the industry capabilities, dynamics and economic viability of using drones to reach previously unreachable populations.

“UNICEF’s drones programme aims to better understand these opportunities, address key considerations in the use of drones, and craft a practical way forward for UNICEF to globally leverage this technology to protect and advance the rights of children.”

The humanitarian organisation further went on to explain that it was looking to invest in companies offering open source drone technology with the potential make an impact in areas that include transport efficiency, aerial imaging, supply chain management; emergency deliveries and the transportation of medical diagnostic kits.

Said UNICEF; “For health workers in remote areas and regions with complex geography, transportation challenges can disrupt the provision of quality care to children and pose constraints to early diagnosis. Transport efficiencies are also essential to supply chain management, particularly for moving temperature sensitive cargo, restocking essential medicines and supplies, and delivering life-saving emergency items in humanitarian contexts.”

Besides getting funding, successful candidates will also get unlimited access to UNICEF’s sprawling Malawi Drone Testing Centre in Kasungu; a drone corridor which – at 6,500 square metres – is easily one of the largest test sites in the world, which also allows dedicated humanitarian drone-oriented test flights above the height of 400 metres.  

“If you’ve got a start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries and have a working, open-source drone prototype or service (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you.”

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund invests in and provides further technology assistance to early stage, open-source, emerging technology with the potential to impact children on a global scale. Its ultimate goal is to build successful digital solutions into Global Digital Public Goods, to ensure fair, equitable, and open access to these unique and new tools for human development on a global scale.

Interested candidates can apply here.


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