What is UNICEF Innovation?

Innovation at UNICEF is focused on improving the lives of children and their families through new or better products, services and systems. UNICEF convenes development agencies, academia, industry and others, to create solutions that respond to user needs.

Innovation is part of UNICEF’s history. Through experience with, and understanding of, our end user’s needs, UNICEF have collaborated and innovated with industry to develop new products, services and systems. Examples include: ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) - peanut-based paste in a sachet for treatment of severe acute malnutrition; long lasting insecticidal bed nets for the prevention of malaria spread by mosquitoes.

UNICEF has also collaborated with academia and programmer communities to create RapidSMS.

RapidSMS is a free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication, leveraging basic short message service (SMS) mobile phone technology. 

UNICEF Innovation is spearheaded by a network of individuals, groups, teams and Innovation Centres across the Organization and often in partnership with others.

What is the idea behind this site?

This site aims to share UNICEF’s challenges, projects and case studies to enable knowledge sharing and collaboration in support of innovation for children.

What is a challenge?

UNICEF is sharing its specific and strategic challenges in order to encourage exploration and debate via the ‘discussion’ section.  This will help UNICEF teams gather as much information and knowledge on the topic as possible at the early stage of an innovation project.

Challenges can be filtered by focus area and country.

What is a project?

A project is being actively worked on within UNICEF and this is where opportunities to get involved will be advertised such as tenders for research or testing work; or RFIs (Requests for Information). Projects can be filtered according to focus area (Child Protection, Water and Sanitation, Newborn Care, etc.) , geographical location and status.

What is a case study?

Case studies are an opportunity to capture knowledge and lessons learned from our successes and failures.  They ensure that each project builds on those that came before, so that our effectiveness in innovation increases with experience.

What is “Status” and “Focus Area” within a project?

There are 4 stages of development or statuses of a project -. 

  • Explore - including user research and technology search around the challenge.
  • Develop - creation of concepts and development of prototypes.
  • Pilot - testing on a limited scale.
  • Scale-up - projects are increasing in size and being implemented on a  wider scale.

What does “Team & Partners” mean within a project?

Collaboration and partnerships support UNICEF to progress and implement projects. Teams can be made up of UNICEF staff and people external to the Organization. Partners may be UN or non-UN organizations or private companies, academia or other institutions that are directly involved in part of the project.

What is a "Region" or "Country" within a project?

A region is the area of the world the project solution is focused. The project may choose to highlight specific countries involved with the project. E.g. pilot countries, involved country offices etc.

How do I comment on a challenge?

Simply join the discussion using your chosen social media log in.

How can I get involved?

From time to time, projects may require partnership and a “get involved” tab will appear on the specific project page.

Where can I find information about working with UNICEF's Innovation Team?

Checkout this page

How do I submit challenges and projects?

Only UNICEF strategic challenges and related innovation projects are shared on this website, and therefore only UNICEF staff may submit a challenge.

For UNICEF staff: On the challenge or project landing page click the “Submit a Challenge/Project” link, and fill in the relevant information.  Someone from the Innovation Unit will contact you to explain the next steps.  If you are experiencing problems contact the team through the “Contact Us” link located at the bottom of every page of the website.

How can I contact UNICEF Innovation?

You can contact UNICEF Innovation through the “Contact Us” link located at the bottom of every page of the website.

To contact your local UNICEF national committee, headquarters, specific country or regional office click here   

Where do I submit feedback about the site?

Via the “Contact Us” link located at the bottom of every page of the website.

What information does the map display?

The map shows the locations where UNICEF innovation projects are either taking place or targeting.

How do I search for a specific topic?

You can search by typing into the “search” function at the top of every page, or filter projects by focus area, country and status. Challenges can be filtered into focus area and country.

How do I share a page on the site?

Using the “Share This” link at the bottom of every page, you can share the page with your social or professional network.

What kind of products do UNICEF deliver?

See UNICEF's Supply Catalogue for the comprehensive list of supplied products.

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