UNICEF Offers $100k Innovation Fund for Drone Startups
UNICEF has just announced that applications are now open for their new Innovation Fund for Drone Startups, which aims to deliver funding to tech startups who want to develop ‘drones for good’.
The fund, which was established to finance open-source technology developed to benefit children, has to date raised $US14.38million which it has invested in three areas: products for youth, infrastructure and real-time information.
Examples of drone solutions that will be considered for funding are:
- UAVs that collect, share and analyse data – this could involve data transmission over low-fi networks, AI or deep learning to identify and count features and objects or data management for stakeholders;
- Software for the management or flight or delivery operations – this could include managing supply chain payments or quality of assets (eg temperature-sensitive medical supplies), optimising flight navigation or detecting features for landing or otherwise completing deliveries;
- Business models or sustainable drone services for emerging markets – for example, new services implemented with existing drones such as imaging and analysis or combination of existing services into a multi-role application;
- Systems that address air safety, risk management or unmanned traffic management (UTM) – this could include tools to simulate or predict altitude management, schedules, or routes, risk assessment, or an app to assist field operations or decision-making.
Seed funding of up to $US100,000 will be delivered to successful applicants, which will be made available for prototyping, testing and validation.
They will also receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team, as well as mentorship and support from their local UNICEF country offices.
Scheibenreif has previously overseen the development of a low-cost drone capable of an autonomous 19km flight in the Malawi drone corridor to deliver medical drugs, built by Malawi students under the auspices of Virgina Tech.
Testing of the successful applicant’s drones will also be conducted at the Malawi drone corridor, which was opened in 2017 to allow beyond-line-of-visual sight (BVLOS) testing of drones.
To apply, interested applicants must have an existing prototype, already be working or be willing to work with open source technologies and must be registered as a private company in a country that is participating in the UNICEF Innovation programme.
Existing prototypes must have a positive impact and display promising results from a preliminary pilot.
Applications are open until July 22, 2018 and can be submitted through the UNICEF Innovation Fund website.