I had the privilege of visiting UNICEF’s global procurement hub last week, a quite extraordinary experience. Based at the port in Copenhagen, the state of the art facility was donated by the Danish government and covers over 20,000 square metres – the equivalent of three football pitches – the storage area alone is 8 stories high and could contain 6,000 20 foot containers. Forget any preconceptions you might have about the non-profit sector, this place looks and runs like an Amazon distribution warehouse. The place is full of monorails, robots and towering automated cranes to cope with the $3.4 billion of supplies that UNICEF dispatches in basic supplies for children each year.

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Within this procurement and supply facility, UNICEF operates an innovation division that is focussed on improving the availability of the goods that UNICEF needs – even if they don’t currently exist. They have done some amazing work on nutrition, focussing on things like the development of tiny packets of ultra-high calorie food to be given to malnourished children and reducing the cost of long-lasting mosquito nets from $21 to $3. They have also created the ultimate low tech wearable, the MUAC band to test for malnutrition. And what do they think will be the next big opportunity for them? Devices.

So that is where our partnership with UNICEF starts to get really interesting. Understanding what they need in their work can help ARM and its Partners create the next generations of health, education and agricultural technologies. Over the next few years we will be working with UNICEF to understand what is missing at the moment and we will then be trying to ensure that the devices they need start appearing on the market as soon as possible. Have a look at this video of the facility, hopefully some essential ARM-based products will be being stored here soon, ready to be dispatched to wherever they are need most.

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