Vodafone Americas Foundation launches $3 million fund to fuel mobile innovation

Have you got some outstanding idea for the mobile world rattling around in your brain, but can’t afford to make it happen? Vodafone wants to hear from you. This morning, the Vodafone Americas Foundation is launching a $3 million fund to help them find “wireless technology that can change the world.”

Coming out swinging, they’ve announced that the first $600,000 of that $3 million will be given as cash grants to the winners of a Wireless Innovation Challenge. First place walks away with $300,000, while second and third get $200,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Now, don’t go trying to score a couple hundred grand with a ringtone editor or an application that turns the iPhone into a flashlight. Vodafone’s mission here is to “address critical social issues around the world”, mentioning mobile disaster warnings and “a microscope embedded on a mobile phone and used in remote areas to collect and submit blood samples for diagnosis at a faraway lab” as ideas of the right mindset. More specifically, they’re looking for ways to better the world in the areas of health, education, economic development, the environment, and access to communication.

Amongst other criteria, application is only open to tax-exempt nonprofit corporations/trusts and U.S. universities. If you’re considering diving into this, make sure to run through the eligibility questionnaire before you get too deep. Applications are being accepted until February 2, 2009, at which point 8 finalists will be chosen for in-person presentations in March. Winners will be announced at the end of April.