Call for Application: ITU/UNOSSC Global south COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021 [prize $25,000USD]

Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
Key details
  • Host: ITU/UNOSSC
  • Open to: Developing countries
  • Target: Entrepreneurs
  • Deadline: 15th July, 2021

Entries are now invited for the 2021 ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge.

About the ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge

In response to COVID-19, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) have co-organized the Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge (UNOSSC).

The challenge will seek out scalable, innovative digital solutions that will help countries, societies, communities, institutions, and individuals in the Global South deal with the pandemic’s cascading effects – across governance, economic and social sectors, and wellbeing – while also contributing to the organizations’ respective focus on South-South cooperation and digital technologies.

Also read: Tech For Our Planet Challenge Program For Startups 2021

The goal of the Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge is to encourage South-South collaboration by replicating or scaling up current technologies with a possible South-South partner or country. The Challenge will offer a mentorship program to help selected proposals/teams boost their potential for scaling up innovations in underdeveloped countries.

Do you have a digital solution that addresses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Global South? Apply now for the ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries are eligible to participate in this challenge. The challenge is open to governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, private sector and start-ups, research institutions, academia, and civil society organization (CSOs).
  • Applying organizations/institutions must have an existing project or minimum viable product (MVP) that:
    • promotes South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/country in the South,
    • demonstrates a new innovative project/prototype, outlining its potential for scaling up through South-South cooperation, and
    • is a digital solution
  • Only one submission per applying organization/institution is permitted (in case of multiple submissions, only the first one received will be considered).  
  • All submissions must be made in the English language only.
  • Applying organizations/institutions will be required to submit proof of their legal registration. 
Evaluation Criteria

The Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge evaluation criteria will be used by the selection committee for both the shortlisting of 20 to 25 best submissions, as well as and the final selection of the winning submissions. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for scoring.

  • 20% for Relevance: Incorporation of South-South and triangular cooperation as a modality for replications and scaling up to other developing countries. The innovation should demonstrate how it will increase peer-to-peer learning among the Global South.  
  • 15% for Adaptability: Should demonstrate its adaptability and replicability to the local context
  • 15% for Sustainability: Support sustainable and continuous response to the Covid-19 crisis and its short or long-term impact.
  • 15% for Viability: Demonstrate the viability of the solution in terms of its effectiveness and feasibility.
  • 20% for Partnership: Engagement with local partners in other developing countries to assure viability in local conditions, and to promote sustainability and scalability of the solution.  
  • 15% for Impact: The innovation showcases how it has the potential to impact lives and drive socio-economic benefit, most of all among vulnerable and excluded populations.

The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals will, through their appointed representatives:

  • Attend a virtual boot camp to further refine their plans and their milestones (e.g. market entry, deployment, impact traction).
  • Will be provided with seed funding up to USD $25,000 to implement/improve/scale up their proposed solution(s), with mentorship and training support, in a new market (developing country) by end of April 2022 (subject to the presentation of a sound budget and workplan with clear milestones and budget allocation. The seed funding will be applied based on progress of implementation.) Both the seed funding will be provided by ITU subject to the terms and conditions of agreements signed between ITU and each winning institution/organization.
  • Present virtually their digital innovation solutions/prototypes at UNOSSC’s annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo and ITU’s 2021 Global Innovation Forum, where they will also share knowledge and explore opportunities for potential partnerships.
  • Be eligible for additional fundraising and resource mobilization support from UNOSSC through a crowdfunding window of the South-South Galaxy platform.

Also read: The SAP Social Shifters Global Innovation Challenge

Application Procedure
  • Only submissions that are accompanied by the application form (duly completed in English and signed) and are received before 5 pm Central Eastern Time on the deadline date will be considered.
  • Submissions are only possible via email to
  • You will also have to register your innovation digital solution which is described in your submission.

For more information visit the official website of ITU/UNOSSC Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge

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