The COVID-19 pandemic has undone more than two decades of progress for women and girls. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on global health systems and supply lines, stalling progress toward sustainable development.
Parallel to this, the epidemic has accelerated innovation, particularly in the expanding health technology business. More women-centered solutions are developing in the world than ever before.
In this context, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the UNFPA, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), have launched the Innovations to Empower Women and Girls Challenge (the Challenge) to further develop and position innovative ways to help disrupt the inequalities and further enhance the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity.
Women-centered innovations will be supported through the Joint Innovation Challenge, including those that;
- provide sustainable and affordable access to vital women’s health care services, commodities, and information, with an emphasis on difficult areas and charitable settings,
- scale up preventative measures and response to gender-based crime and inhumane practices.
The Joint Innovation Challenge intends to help UNFPA-registered social entrepreneurs (the Companies) transition from grant-making to self-sustaining financial projections, and from “doing innovation” to “managing it.” As a result, scaling up innovation projects via enterprises promotes the transition to self-sustaining solutions.
The Joint Innovation Challenge will offer a mentorship program to help grantees improve their ability to scale their discoveries across underdeveloped countries.
As a result, it will establish and foster an ecosystem of mentors, innovators, and important stakeholders who will back the solutions and their long-term viability models.
This Joint Innovation Challenge will be implemented by UNFPA in collaboration with WIPO and ITU. The partners will choose up to ten winning concepts from the applicants and give funds of up to $60,000 each award to help the companies scale up.
Following the selection of grantees, winning companies will sign a nine-month contract during which they will completely develop and begin integrating their plans to scale, as well as receiving professional assistance in crucial areas such as business modelling and intellectual property (IP) management.
WIPO will assist with IP management through a customized training that will include the use of WIPO IP Diagnostics. ITU will give winners with a bootcamp, mentorship, and scale-up support through its ecosystem development, initiative stability, and scale-up frameworks.
Companies will report on their outcomes and submit their strategies and business models representing the next measures to scale up the unique solution at the end of the Challenge.
The competition will be available to all registered companies operating in UNFPA programme countries that are developing solutions in UNFPA’s mandate areas.
The following criteria will be considered to determine whether proposals are eligible for consideration:
- The corporation must be registered as a business or organization in a UNFPA-supported country.
- The Company, including any JV/Consortium representatives and individual members, is not subject to procurement restrictions inferred from the Compendium of United Nations Security Council Sanctions Lists, and has not been reprimanded, disqualified, sanctioned, or otherwise defined as unqualified by any UN Organization or the World Bank Group at the time of application.
- The company must execute the invention in the UNFPA program nation where it is registered.
- Preventing unmet demand for family planning, ending unnecessary maternal deaths, or eliminating gender-based violence and harmful practices are all concerns that the suggested innovation should address (see descriptions here).
- The business must have proof of concept, tested prototype and a minimal viable product (MVP) that has been vetted and is ready to scale. The MVP must be a member of the submitting company.
- The innovative solution must be scalable and sustainable in the market or in the public sector (UN Innovation Toolkit definition: pushing adoption beyond the first pilot’s target demographic).
- Proposals must include innovative programs that promote women’s and girls’ empowerment, with an emphasis on addressing unfulfilled family planning needs, avoidable maternal mortality rates, and gender-based violence.
How to apply
Do you have a solution that can address the aforementioned issues? Visit here to apply for the Joint Innovation Challenge. The deadline for application is Friday, April 15, 2022.
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