The COVID-19 crisis had an unprecedented impact on our society. Regardless of speculation about what the “new normal” will be, no one is certain about what the future holds. The crisis has exposed the fragility of the current system’s functioning across the globe but has also provided a powerful lens to examine the underlying conditions that led to this fragility, and illuminated gaps in economic and social values chains, providing provided the opportunity to improve economic resilience and related
South-South Cooperation, coupled with embracing new and innovative approaches, present an opportunity to respond to the current health emergency and far-reaching socio-economic headwinds. Digital innovation reduces information and transaction costs, improves service delivery, creates new jobs, generates new revenue streams, and helps conserve resources. Since the beginning of the pandemic, innovators have been responding to the crisis with a progressive approach.
The Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge, in response to COVID-19, is co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). The challenge will identify scalable innovative digital solutions that will enable countries, societies, communities, institutions, and individuals from the Global South to deal with the cascading effects of the pandemic – across governance, economic and social sectors, and wellbeing – and contribute to the organizations’ respective focuses on South-South cooperation and digital technologies. The Challenge objective is to promote South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/ country in the South. The Challenge will provide a mentorship scheme to increase the potential/ capabilities of the selected proposals/ teams to scaling up innovations across developing countries.
Only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries1 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)2
- 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
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.