Call for ideas for EdTech responses to coronavirus (COVID-19)

UPDATE: The call is now closed 

We’ve opened a sub-window in partnership with UNHCR for refugee related ideas that respond to COVID-19 school closures. Find full details here.

Our call for ideas to respond to the learning emergency caused by COVID-19 school closures is now closed. 

We have been delighted and overwhelmed by the huge number of applications that we have received. As a result we have decided to postpone the next Pitch Days to June in order to allow us to review the applications in full. 

We will contact successful applicants to invite them, but unfortunately if you were not successful we will not be able to get in touch with you at this time.


The EdTech Hub, mEducation Alliance, and Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) are launching a call for tech-focused ideas to respond to the learning emergency caused by COVID-19 school closures in low- and middle-income countries. 

Selected applicants will be invited to virtual EdTech Pitch Days with a global network of potential funders, support in adapting and scaling in response to COVID-19, and connections for onward collaboration and funding.

According to the latest figures released by UNESCO, over 1.5 billion learners around the world were not able to attend school or university, and 192 governments have now ordered countrywide closures of their schools and universities. This is in addition to 258 million learners who were out of school before the outbreak of COVID-19 . 

Longer-term consequences of this disruption will be felt long after the immediate crisis response has passed and schools reopen, such as:

  • Continued disruption of student enrolment and retention in school
  • Negative impacts on the cognitive, academic and socio-emotional development of students
  • Stalled or even reversed learning gains in affected regions reduced educational attainment of marginalised children, such as girls, children with disabilities, and those in refugee and internally displaced communities in particular

These impacts will be especially felt and more difficult to recover from in lower-income environments across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

How are we responding to this?

We believe technology – especially when paired with high-quality curriculum delivered by skilled teachers – has an important role to play in the overall response to COVID-19. We are running an open call for problem-solvers from around the world to share their tech-focused ideas that respond to the learning emergency impacting learners around the world.  

Successful applicants will receive a combination of support to scale and accelerate their ideas to help mitigate the COVID-19 learning emergency. This will begin with the opportunity to pitch to a global network of funders, support in adapting and scaling in response to COVID-19, and connections for onward collaboration

What we are looking for

Technology offers an opportunity to reach and teach learners, who cannot gather in traditional school settings in such a period of disruption, and to help mitigate some of the longer-term consequences. We are looking to support a range of technology-enabled initiatives with a focus on:

  • Innovative methods for distance learning and education content for students out-of-school and in non-formal settings, particularly focused on foundation literacy and numeracy
  • Support for teachers and school education leaders

Within these focus areas, we are seeking interventions that support:

  • Formal assessment and examination systems 
  • Parents, caregivers and/or other community champions
  • The psychosocial and socio-emotional impacts of COVID-19 on learners including through the use of play and games
  • Marginalised learners including girls, those with disabilities and those in internally-displaced and refugee communities,
  • ‘Learning-adjacent’ needs such as a feeding programmes and a safe place, and,
  • Strengthen education systems, such as data management systems for local or national governments and analysis of system readiness for use of technology 

We will consider a range of ideas that have been proven and are more speculative:

  • Initiatives with proof of impact currently working within the education sector, which could be pivoted or quickly scaled to respond to educational challenges related to COVID-19.
  • ‘What if’ ideas with potential to be rapidly tested and implemented in areas of greatest need. 
  • Ideas from anywhere: we welcome ideas from start-ups, non-profits, government officials, individual researchers, or anyone else seeking to further education outcomes during COVID-19
  • Ideas that incorporate as much as possible the principles of Universal Design for Learning 
  • Bottom-up concepts designed and built by those affected by COVID-19.

The offer 

All eligible applicants will be added to GIE’s COVID-19 Innovation Hub, with selected innovations receiving verified recognition and support from the EdTech Hub and mEducation Alliance for exposure to their networks. Successful applications will receive a combination of the following, dependent on their need and maturity: 

  1. Invitation to pitch to funders at COVID-19 EdTech Pitch Days, giving you exposure to a global network of education donors and investors.
  2. Connections to world leading experts for how best to adapt and scale your idea for COVID.
  3. Direct links into programmes and matchmaking to others who are working in this space for onward collaboration.

We believe that there is no limit to what great ideas and talented entrepreneurs can do in partnership with educators and education systems in response to this problem. 

How to apply

Submit your idea by filling in this simple application form

What is the deadline for applying?

This is a rolling call so we will continue to accept applications on an ongoing basis. 

There are three pitch days scheduled for May and June: 

Round Successful applicants notified by: EdTech pitch day
1 1 May 2020 13 May 2020
2 15 May 2020 27 May 2020
3 29 May 2020 10 June 2020

We will be curating the pitch days based on the applications that come in so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 

The cut off for the final round will be 12 noon Monday 25 May.

Seeking other partners

Are you interested in joining us as a new partner on this call? We invite institutions and individuals who can make significant technical, financial, and/or other contributions to join us in our efforts. 

For more information on how to become a EdTech idea call partner, please contact

The team 

This call is being launched and implemented by the following partners: 

  • The EdTech Hub is a consortium of partners aiming to increase the use of evidence to inform decision-making about education technology. The EdTech Hub is a collaboration between the Overseas Development Institute, REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge, Results for Development, Open Development and Education, Brink, Jigsaw, BRAC, Afrilabs and eLearning Africa. Donor support is provided by UK aid, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The Mobiles for Education (mEducation) Alliance serves as a convening platform for ed tech leaders and 25+ investing institutions to strengthen collaborative efforts. Through its work, it seeks to catalyse international and national contributions for quality ed tech interventions, particularly focused in low-resource, developing country context.
  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIE): is a data-driven global development innovation platform that provides tools, data, analysis and connectivity to catalyse and enhance the day-to-day business and interaction of ecosystem actors. GIE has the largest, searchable development innovation database in the world documenting almost 15,000 innovations and a cumulative USD1.5 billion+ of funding opportunities to 45,000+ registered users. 

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