|2 November 2015|

The first Global Innovations for Children and Youth Summit will be held in Finland this month.

Organised by UNICEF and the Finish Ministry for Foreign Affairs it will challenge experts in different fields to explore solutions that would benefit the most disadvantaged children in the world.

The international innovation event will take place at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on 9 and 10 November in collaboration with SLUSH, a gathering for start-up entrepreneurs and international investors.

Innovations play a key role in solving development problems and in developing societies. Even though significant progress has been made over the past decades, many gaps remain in protecting the rights of the children. More innovative products and procedures are needed and the utilisation of those that have been introduced must be accelerated and taken to wider use.

The Start-up to scale-up summit will speed up the generation and spread of innovations by establishing open-minded partnerships and by exploring new forms of funding. The event will gather key representatives from large companies, start-up enterprises, UN organisations, civil society organisations, the academia, different countries’ governments and investors.

“The aim is to encourage key people to change their ways of thinking and working so that development cooperation would produce more results to benefit children across the world,” the executive director at the Finnish Committee for UNICEF, Marja-Riitta Ketola said.

The summit reflects the change in development cooperation in which different actors pool their resources. For example, companies’ and universities’ role as partners of different organisations and governments has strengthened.

“Innovations and new kinds of partnerships play a key role in the solutions of global development problems. Finland and UNICEF have a long experience of the development of innovation activities. We want to jointly invite you, experts in development cooperation and innovation activities, to come and visit Finland and look for new solutions to benefit all children,” added Lenita Toivakka, minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland.

Finland and UNICEF have a long history of cooperation in the promotion of innovations: In UNICEF Finland’s UniWASH project in Uganda, the University of Helsinki and Aalto University cooperate with Biolan, Ugandan businesses and Makerere University. Finland has allocated development cooperation funding to innovative water and sanitation solutions, which will improve Ugandan schoolchildren’s hygiene, health and opportunities of going to school.

In May UNICEF launched an Innovation Fund to help bring to scale creative and cost-reducing approaches to better the lives of the poorest children. The initial capital of the fund is USD four million; the founding members are UNICEF, the Walt Disney Company and the Government of Denmark. About 300 UNICEF-run innovation projects are under way in different parts of the world.

The Start-up to scale-up summit is targeted mainly to invited guests. Webcasts and the social media also offer opportunities of participation. The summit will be organised in conjuction with the SLUSH event in Helsinki on 11–12 November.


*Clouds over Sidra is a collaboration between the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), UNICEF Jordan, Samsung, Chris Milk and his production studio VRSE.works. The virtual reality experience uses Samsung Oculus VR Gear equipment to fully immerse the viewer into the life of a young girl living in the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan as she guides you through her daily life. The film is also available to the general public through Google cardboard.