The United Nations’ charity arm for children, UNICEF, is funding research into blockchain tech.
Announced Monday, UNICEF is investing $100,000 in six blockchain startups to “solve global challenges using blockchain technology,” ranging from healthcare delivery transparency to managing finances and resources.
The investments are part of a broader program which already funds 20 technology startups, according to a press release.
These are UNICEF’s latest investments in blockchain startups through its innovation fund, which first hinted at the move as far back as February 2016, and put out a call for firms in the space explicitly at the beginning of this year.
Each of these startups is based in a developing economy, with firms based out of Argentina, Mexico, India, Tunisia and Bangladesh.
The six recipients are Atix Labs and Onesmart, which are developing platforms for tracking finances; Prescrypto, which is building a platform to track patient histories; Statwig, which is working to ensure vaccine delivery with a supply chain platform; Utopixar, which is working on a social collaboration tool; and W3 Engineers, which is looking to develop an offline networking system that does not require internet access.
UNICEF Innovation principal advisor Chris Fabian explained in a statement that 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.”
“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.”
On top of the funding, UNICEF will provide assistance with the products and technology, as well as share access to its network of partners and experts.
The companies are expected to deliver open-source prototypes of their projects over the next 12 months.
UNICEF has been looking into blockchain for years, investing in an identity-focused startup two years ago and trialing smart contracts for transactions.
UNICEF image via JPstock / Shutterstock