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Apply Now: $109,000 Seed Funding to Bridge the Digital Divide

By Wayan Vota on June 12, 2023

Internet Access freedom

There are 2.9 billion unconnected people across the globe, an issue that was significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now imagine yourself as one of those 2.9 billion people who live without the internet.

Internet access is critical to education, industry, and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to buy and sell goods and services online. Students lack access to the abundance of remote learning opportunities. During the pandemic, working or studying from home was impossible for unconnected populations. For many, the lack of internet access forced them to make a choice between their well-being or earning a living.

2023 IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Challenge

Connecting the Unconnected Challenge is an  annual, global competition to bridge the digital divide. They are seeking innovative solutions from early-stage projects or ideas pursuing unique ways to increase affordable broadband access and usage for unconnected (or under-connected) populations/geographies.

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Start-ups, grassroots organizations, university projects, and others working to bridge the digital divide should submit a short (~500 words) abstract and answer some basic questions in Phase 1 of the challenge. This year’s challenge has a total prize pool of USD $109,000 across multiple categories.

Gender Digital Divide Focus

According to UNESCO, in 10 countries across Africa, Asia, and South America, women are 30-50% less likely than men to make use of the internet. Globally, women are 23% less likely than men to use mobile internet.

For the 2023 Connecting the Unconnected Challenge, IEEE is partnering with USAID to bring more focus to the persistent gender-based inequalities in how women access, integrate with, and are empowered by digital technology. As countries continue to digitize, the ongoing exclusion of women from online spaces will widen economic and gender inequality, which will limit inclusive sustainable development. For women who have managed to secure access to digital technology, a new set of challenges and harms await them online.

The 2023 CTU Challenge will add a new prize for Best Overall Gender Inclusion Proof-of-Concept. This award will go to the Proof-of-Concept track contestant in any category whose project or solution makes a significant impact or effort in closing the gender digital divide in from one of three different perspectives:

  • Innovative Technology Applications (TA) to increase Internet access or otherwise enable connectivity.
  • Innovative Business Models (BM) that result in increased affordability for Internet access.
  • Innovative programs that increase Community Enablement (CE), or the likelihood that populations choose to start using the Internet where previously they did not.

Apply Now! Deadline is July 3, 2023

More Funding Opportunities

Do you want to apply for USAID grants for humanitarian aid projects? Get startup investments for a technology business? Or learn how to win more contracts? Then please sign up now to get our email updates. We are constantly publishing new funding opportunities like these:

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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3 Comments to “Apply Now: $109,000 Seed Funding to Bridge the Digital Divide”

  1. Eternity Richard Agbor says:

    We seek grants and financial assistance for Human, Economy Empowerment, for the Week and Poor in Global Communities.

  2. Can I have an application, please

  3. Cheryl Michaels says:

    I want to bring Internet access for my community in a village