Grand Challenges Africa Innovation Seed Grants 2017 for Innovative Health and Development Solutions

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Grand Challenges Africa (GCA) are accepting proposals for the first round of applications and are seeking innovative global health and development solutions from researchers resident in Africa who have the support of their affiliated/primary organization, and where the major programme of work will be undertaken.

Application Deadline: 17th February 2017

Eligible Countries: African countries

About the Award: Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) is a scheme of the Africa Academy of Sciences’ Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) initiated to support innovations that address Africa’s health and developmental challenges. The scheme seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by awarding seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions.

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The overall objective will be to focus African scientists to work in local and global partnerships to accelerate the development and deployment of interventions and innovations targeting communicable and non-communicable diseases that affect mothers, new-born babies and children.

The African Academy of Sciences – Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AAS-AESA) is launching two new Grand Challenges:

1) Providing new impetus and solutions and strategies to help Africa meet the SDG 3 target for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH). These cover key areas of:

  • New technologies to enable rapid identification of exposures that lead to poor outcomes in pregnancy, birth and in the first month of life — these could be exposures to communicable and non-communicable diseases.
  • Precision medicine approaches and techniques to identify microbes and other exposures in Africa that may increase susceptibility to non-communicable diseases (cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc.) in mothers and children under 5 years of age.

2) Creative approaches to engage the public, and inspire policy and decision makers to increase investment in African Research & Development.

Challenge 1 : Focuses on key targets of the health SDG3 to stimulate new approaches, interventions, tools and new combinations of existing approaches to ensure that Africa progresses rapidly to address challenges in MNCH and to accelerate the pace of implementing interventions that can reduce maternal, neonatal and child deaths in Africa.

Challenge 2: Focuses on key targets of SDG 9 to enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.

The goal of this challenge is to ignite new ways of communicating the importance of investments in scientific research and development to motivate African governments and their citizens to support increased investments in scientific Research, Development & innovation(RD&I) from within the continent to complement, and eventually surpass, global/external investments. Increased investments will lead to innovative home grown solutions to challenges that may prevent African countries from achieving SDG3 targets set for MNCH.


Type: Grants


The call will be open to African investigators working in African based, domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, international organizations, government agencies, research and academic institutions.

The call is also open to non-African investigators with an appointment/affiliation with any of the nine Institute Pasteur institutes in Africa, who are resident in Africa, with at least 18 months left on their tenure of service/affiliation by the time of receiving the award.

Selection Criteria: Successful proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific and technical excellence, including a clear and rigorous conceptual framework for research activities
  • Innovation, including creativity of the project’s approach and clear differentiation from existing approaches
  • Unique project resources, including investigator and organization capabilities and potential to enhance intra – African collaborations, mentorship and supervision in future.
  • Value in terms of appropriateness of the budget and timelines relative to project complexity, risk, and potential impact.
  • Potential to lead to prevention and treatment solutions with substantial impact.

Value of Grants: 

Phase I Funding: Funded up to $100,000 USD per two-year project. These awards are meant to provide an opportunity to test particularly bold, proof of concept ideas, including applying approaches from outside the fields indicated for this call. New approaches could be piloted as additions to ongoing projects.

Phase II funding: Winners of Phase I grants will have an opportunity to apply for follow-on, phase II funding in future but please note that support for phase II funding is NOT part of this call.

GC Africa will also provide a platform for partnering with other funders through the Grand Challenges Innovation Network (GCAiN).

How to Apply: All applications must be made through Ishango Grants Management system.

Changes to the Rules and Guidelines will be posted on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page of the Grand Challenges Africa website including any changes to the dates listed above.

Visit Grants Webpage for details

Award Provider: AESA implements GC Africa in partnership with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Agency (NEPAD) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Round 1 is a joint initiative of GC Africa partners and the Paris-based, Institut Pasteur


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