Call for applications open to scale tech globally with UNDP’s Digital X challenge

Digital X is a Partnerships for Scale Programme that helps innovative technology for good scale globally. The initiative connects UNDP and governments with proven, ready-to-scale solutions to meet urgent digital needs

Posted April 20, 2022

The primary focus of Digital X has been to take proven digital innovations and scale them, with the goal of making UNDP more efficient and effective in delivering its mandate.

UNDP Peru

New York - In the year since it first launched, UNDP’s Digital X programme has created the opportunity for ten ambitious projects to scale in terms of both impact and geographical reach. Now, with continued funding by the Government of Japan, Digital X will build on that success to launch a new Digital X ‘Partnerships for Scale Programme’ that brings proven, ready-to-scale digital solutions to UNDP and our partners. Now through 31st May, teams from around the world are invited to apply to be featured in the Digital X Solutions Catalogue and receive up to $100,000 in financial support to scale.

This year’s programme builds on two long-standing goals. From its first iteration, the primary focus of Digital X has been to take proven digital innovations and scale them, with the goal of making UNDP more efficient and effective in delivering its mandate. The secondary focus is to foster for UNDP and its government partners the capacity to widely leverage the plethora of ready-to-scale digital tools at their disposal, rather than reinvent the wheel.

“The first round of Digital X helped us identify some of the reasons why so many digital solutions that we create at UNDP struggle to gain the meaningful impact we desire,” says Mike Rios, Digital Innovation and Scaling Specialist at the Chief Digital Office. “However, the experience also gave us hope, because we learned that there are a lot of proven digital solutions that are out there waiting to be discovered. The current Digital X challenge tries to correct this disconnect between the digital needs we have and the solutions that already exist.”

In preparation for this year’s challenge, the Digital X team worked with UNDP’s Global Policy Network to conduct a systematic scan of digital needs at country level. These were synthesised into a series of Digital X Global Challenges that include the thematic areas of Health, Crisis Response, Climate, Inclusive Growth and Gender.

All UN agencies, social enterprises, nonprofits, and universities with digital solutions can apply. Applicants who pass the vetting process will be featured in a Digital X Solutions Catalogue, which will be shared with UNDP offices, government partners, and UN agencies worldwide. Bespoke in-kind support will be available for teams implementing selected digital solutions, including support from the Chief Digital Office, optional mentorship, and connections to the ever expanding Digital X Network.

To be considered for selection, a digital solution must:

  • be ready-to-scale (i.e. has a long-term owner, is sustainable, passes a tech review for safety, has scaled widely with target populations in at least one country, and has progressed past the idea or concept phase);
  • have a clear problem statement and unique value proposition;
  • have a demonstrated impact; and
  • demonstrate a commitment to ‘do no harm’ and embed data privacy considerations.

 

For full details on applying to a Digital X Global Challenge, and to be featured in the Solutions Catalogue or be eligible for funding, go to digitalx.undp.org

Previous Digital X winners have gone on to achieve great impact. Last year’s Digital X cohort included a joint project between UNDP Uganda and African e-commerce giant Jumia to connect informal market vendors with customers online. Only a few weeks after the project was launched at five markets in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, two more markets were eager to get involved. Digital X also helped a UNDP-funded jobs matching platform in Bangladesh scale to operating in Somalia, where 35% of young people between the ages of 20 and 25 are looking for work.

For more information on how to apply for this year’s Digital X challenge, please contact digital.x@undp.org.