Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
Generation Connect
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Closing Date : July 15 2021, Thursday


Do you have a digital solution that addresses the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Global South?

(Application Deadline- 15 July 2021)

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.

About the challenge

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 issues.

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.

Our goals

The Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge aims to build a network of champions in developing-country ecosystems to: 

  • accelerate the response to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • grasp the current innovation impetus and bring innovative digital solutions into international development, and reach out to entities which are usually in innovation’s frontlines activities;
  • leverage South-South cooperation networks, platforms and funding mechanisms to achieve impact at scale through sharing and replicating selected innovations; and
  • provide open access to resources from the international expert community and build entrepreneurship capabilities for innovators in governments, intergovernmental organizations, private sector and start-up companies, research institutions and academia, and CSOs.

Challenge eligibility

Only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries [1] 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] that:

  1. promotes South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/country in the South,
  2. demonstrates a new innovative project/prototype, outlining its potential for scaling up through South-South cooperation, and
  3. 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.  

[1] These include the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries, middle-income, low-income countries, and countries with economies in transition

[2] An MVP is a product with enough features that can be used by early customers and receive feedback for future development.

For more information, visit Generation Connect.