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, presents 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 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 focus 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.
The challenge will be supported by the Global South-South Development Center (GSSDC) which is jointly initiated by UNOSSC and China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), with funding support from the Government of China to the UN Fund for South-South Cooperation.
 These include the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries, middle-income, low-income countries and countries with economies in transition
 An MVP is a product with enough features that can be used by early customers and receive feedback for future development.
The evaluation criteria below will be used by the selection committee for both the shortlisting of 20 to 25 best submissions, as well as and the final selection of the winning submissions. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for scoring.
A selection committee of experts from ITU, UNOSSC and supporting partners will be convened to shortlist the 20 to 25 best submissions, and the final selected proposals.
The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals will, through their appointed representatives:
 The final number of selected award-winning proposals will be at the discretion of the selection committee.
 Seed funds may only be used for prototyping, market-entry, etc. They cannot be used for salaries, office supplies, internet connectivity, etc.
 Shortlisted candidates/ proposals must prepare to pitch their ideas in front of a selection committee for the final selection.  Only submitters of the selected award-winning proposals will be invited to the boot camp where they will be provided with mentorship and training to refine their digital innovation.  Virtual attendance at other events may be required. Further information will be available by the time of selection
Response to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Bring innovative digital solutions into international development, and reach out to entities that are usually in innovation’s frontlines activities
Achieve impact at scale through sharing and replicating selected innovations
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.