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Introduction to the DPG Accelerator Guide

What is this guide?​

The Digital Public Goods (DPG) Accelerator Guide is a collection of cases, templates and resources to support accelerators in their efforts to encourage and support entrepreneurs to develop and scale solutions that are DPGs. The guide seeks to provide accelerators with tools and content to integrate into ongoing incubation and acceleration programmes covering business model development, product development and licensing, as well as development of networks to support scaling of the business and the solution.


DPGs are open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm by design, and help attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Open source is a necessary condition for any technology to be considered a DPG. The ambition is to ensure that startups work on creating DPGs, as it enables sharing, reuse and adaptation to suit local needs. And combined with the right support structure and capacity building among entrepreneurs on DPGs, they can fundamentally shift power imbalances, improve knowledge and resource inequities, and grow local ecosystems by empowering country-level digital transformations.

As open source solutions, DPGs can be adapted locally to meet the unique needs and demands of their users. These local implementations can further improve the core solution and yield long-term sustainability. DPGs can also help safeguard human rights through relevant minimum standards and by providing transparency and accountability for citizens and users around how the core technologies have been designed and developed. It is necessary that startups begin to embrace open source and creative common licenses, as this is where we can generate exponential impact from the solutions that are delivered. By promoting multi-stakeholder cooperation, DPGs can help transcend geographical, institutional, sectoral and expertise boundaries and design solutions by incorporating diverse perspectives.

The Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) is a multi-stakeholder initiative with a mission to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals in low- and middle-income countries by facilitating the discovery, development, use of, and investment in DPGs. UNICEF is a proud co-lead of the UN Secretary General’s The Age of Digital Interdependence recommendations around universal connectivity (1A) and digital public goods (1B). A key focus of the DPGA is to ensure that fair, equitable, and open access to these unique and new tools and solutions for human development is available globally. This guide has been created by UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, as a co-champion of the DPGA, based on the experience of 10 country offices showing leadership in developing, scaling and investing in DPG DPpathfinder pilot and UNICEF’s Venture Fund investments in 67 countries. It contains content, resources and learnings that have been built over the past few years to help other organizations independently support DPGs.

Accelerators can help support startup to locally develop DPGs that are positioned for scale. Building DPGs can benefit startups in the following:

  • Open source solutions can generate revenue: 80% of the Venture Fund portfolio companies, all open source, do so successfully.

  • Attract investments: As of April 2022, the Venture Fund open source early stage startup investees had attracted 16.6M USD of follow-on investment

  • Provide exit opportunities for investors: Just in 2021, five UNICEF Venture Fund investees were acquired, demonstrating sustainability of open source companies and their potential to scale.

Objectives - through this Guide, incubators and accelerators will increase their own understanding and be able to support entrepreneurs:

  1. To understand what DPGs are

  2. To build sustainable business models around open source solutions (and DPGs)

  3. To access networks and partners to help in development and scaling ofDPGs

  4. Through tools to develop:

  • Structured mentorship and support to startup solutions on going open source and becoming recognized as a DPG
  • Create activities or programmes that are in support of DPGs

Who is this guide for?​

  • Startup Accelerators and Incubators that are interested in supporting and strengthening their programmes for startups producing open source products.
  • Startups looking for direction on how they can operate on a Open Source Business Model (OSBM) and become recognized as a DPG.
  • Other organizations who can share this amongst their ecosystem network and use it as a referral on how to support open source business models & DPGs alike.

Thank you to all the contributors, from UNICEF, DPGA, accelerators and startups who have made this guide possible through sharing their learnings and resources, and dedicating time to help review and edit the guide.