The ITU Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021

Application Deadline: July 31st 2021

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.


The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals[1] will, through their appointed representatives:

  1. Attend a virtual boot camp to further refine their plans and their milestones (e.g. market entry, deployment, impact traction).
  2. Will be provided with seed funding up to USD 25 000[2] 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Be eligible for additional fundraising and resource mobilization support from UNOSSC through a crowdfunding window of the South-South Galaxy platform.

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. 

Submission Procedure:

  • Only submissions which are accompanied by the application form (duly completed in English and signed) and are received before 5pm Central Eastern Time on the deadline date mentioned on this website will be considered.
  • Submissions are only possible via email to [email protected].
  • You will also have to register your innovation digital  solution which is described in your submission at the dedicated link https://cocreate.itu.int/category/223257.

Download the forms before applying

*Important: The information provided in the uploaded forms will remain confidential and will only be used for internal processes and it’s GDPR compliant. Only the information filled-out on the platform will be made public. This includes the name of the project, image representing the project (logo or other) and brief descriptions about the project and the problem is trying to solve. 

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the ITU Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021

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