The STI Forum 2021 Call for Innovations is initiated by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with Global Innovation Exchange at Results for Development.

The Call seeks innovations developed or adapted to address COVID-19-associated disruptions that will remain relevant beyond the pandemic to help accelerate progress towards one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Selected innovators will be invited to participate at the UN’s Virtual STI Forum 2021 taking place on May 4th and 5th. 

Also Apply: Commonwealth Shared Scholarship 2021 in the United Kingdom – Fully Funded


  1. Get expert coaching to prepare Ted Talk style lightning talks for the virtual UN stage.
  2. Showcase their expertise and innovation at the STI Forum 2021.
  3. Engage in peer feedback and learning.
  4. Network with STI Forum attendees relevant to the innovation – other innovators, those who can support or scale up your innovations, and those seeking to utilize such innovations. 
  5. Receive a recording of the lightning talk to demonstrate they were “on stage at the UN”. 
  6. Potentially be included in other learning and exposure activities such as a social media campaign, case studies, and future events. These are not guaranteed.

Following are the criteria for consideration for the STI Forum 2021: 

#1: You haven’t already submitted an innovation for consideration for the STI Forum 2021. Only one innovation should be submitted per person.

#2: Your innovation has not been showcased at past STI Forum events. See the list here. If your innovation has already been featured at past events, it will not be selected again this year.

#3: Innovations that have been effective in addressing any indirect impacts of COVID-19 in a developing country as opposed to direct response (i.e. vaccine development, rapid testing, personal protective equipment (PPE)). For this Call, we are looking for innovations that fit into one of the below categories:

  1. Innovations that focus on essential nutrition and healthcare services, particularly HIV, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn and child healthcare services. (SDG 2 & SDG 3)
  2. Education innovations to reduce the inequalities COVID-19 has placed on students from low socioeconomic households. (SDG 4)
  3. Innovations that respond or prevent gender-based violence or intimate partner violence (SDG 5). 
  4. Innovations that focus on vulnerable and marginalized populations that have been hit hardest by the pandemic including older persons, persons with disabilities, children, women, migrants and refugees, and indigenous populations (SDG 1SDG 10). 

#4: Locally-led Innovations that are providing impactful solutions with the potential to create sustained change in the communities that they serve. We are not interested in innovations that are “top-down” or “solutions looking for a problem” but instead innovations that have been developed by local innovators or implemented in partnership with local ecosystem partners, and in consultation with potential end-users. If the innovation is shortlisted or selected, we may ask to speak to the ecosystem partners.

#5: A concrete vision and plan to scale the innovation so it continues to be relevant and useful beyond the pandemic in providing longer-term support in helping achieve one or more of the SDGs. The innovation may address a different SDG post-pandemic than the indirect impact it addressed during the pandemic.

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3-step process to submit your innovation for consideration:

 – Step 1: Confirm that you meet the criteria above for the STI Forum 2021 Call for Innovations. 

 – Step 2: Fill out this form for submission


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