The United Nations’ charity arm for children announced on Monday plans to fund research into blockchain technology. UNICEF is investing $100,000 in six blockchain startups to “solve global challenges,” ranging from healthcare delivery transparency to managing finances and resources. According to the press release, the investments are part of an extensive program, which already funds 20 tech startups. UNICEF initially hinted at the move in February of 2016, while calling for firms in the space explicitly begun in early 2018.
These startups are all based in a developing economy, Coindesk reports, with firms from Argentina, Mexico, India, Tunisia and Bangladesh. The six startups receiving funds are Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar and W3 Engineers.
Atix Labs and Onesmart will be responsible for developing platforms for tracking finances, while Prescrypto will build a platform to track patient histories. In addition, Statwig will work to ensure vaccine delivery with a supply chain platform, while Utopixar works towards a social collaboration tool. W3 Engineers will look to develop an offline networking system, without requiring internet access.
“The fund invests in projects when our financing, technical support, and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible,” UNICEF Innovation principal advisor Chris Fabian explained. “Blockchain technology is still at an early stage – and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world.”
In addition to the funding, UNICEF will provide assistance with the products and technology, and also share access to its network of partners and experts. All companies are expected to deliver open-source prototypes of their projects within the next 12 months.