5 more innovation challenges you can apply for

Innovators at the PopTech Ecomaterials Innovation Lab discuss the different breakthroughs in next-generation, ‘ultra-green’ ecological materials and industrial processes. Photo by: John Santerre / PopTech / CC BY-SA 

Over the next five years, 600,000 low-income residents in the Nigerian state of Kwara are expected to have affordable health insurance, with the goal of reducing maternal and child mortality. That’s the plan under the proposal that won the Netherlands-based PharmAccess Foundation the chance to receive up to $2 million in grant funding, together with the prestigious People’s Choice Award from the recently concluded round of the Saving Lives at Birth grand challenge.

Launched in 2011, the grand challenge had an original commitment of $50 million from its funders — the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the U.K. Department for International Development and the Norwegian government. The latest round — round four — marked the final round of awards under the original commitment.

Meanwhile, several funding opportunities have opened up for those pursuing and scaling up global development innovations. As we’ve reported previously, GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children are providing cash prizes totaling $1 million to support innovative solutions that can help to cut rates of child mortality among the under-5s. Applications are welcome through Aug. 25.

Here are five more similar opportunities that you can apply for now and in the coming weeks.

Global Action Challenge

• Funder: Global Action Platform
• Application period: through 5 p.m. Central Time, Aug. 29, 2014
• Amount of funding: a total of $1M
• Eligibility: individuals or teams (preferably) with members aged 18 or older

The challenge seeks to identify breakthrough prototypes, technologies or early-stage ventures that can have a transformative impact on health and food security and demonstrate the potential to become scalable businesses. All finalists must present a 10-minute pitch to the judges on Nov. 17, 2014, at the Global Action Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

Global Health Innovative Technology Fund

• Funder: Japanese government, Astellas Pharma, Daiichi Sankyo Co., Eisai Co., Shionogi & Co., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations Development Program, Cosmo Public Relations Corp., Mori Building Co.
• Application period: For the Hit-to-Lead Platform RFP 2014-002, an intent to apply must be received by 10  a.m. Tokyo time on Sept. 10, 2014, but applications are open through 10 a.m. Tokyo time on Oct. 10, 2014; for the Screening Platform RFP 2014-001, no deadline for submitting an intent to apply is provided.
• Amount of funding: early in 2014, GHIT Fund awarded three grants worth $6.8 million
• Eligibility: Japanese and non-Japanese organizations whose projects involve collaboration with any of the three health product development partnerships: Medicines for Malaria Venture, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, and Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

This is a cross-sector partnership that aims to leverage Japanese innovations to develop medicines and vaccines against diseases in the developing world.

Innovation Prize for Africa 2015

• Funder: African Innovation Foundation
• Application period: through midnight GMT on Oct. 31, 2014
• Amount of funding: $100,000 grand prize, $25,000 for the runner-up with the best commercial or business potential, and $25,000 to the winner of the Special Prize for Social Impact Innovation
• Eligibility: African innovators and entrepreneurs

IPA aims to promote African-led innovation in manufacturing and service, health and well-being, agriculture and agribusiness, environment, energy, water and information technology sectors. All innovations will be evaluated according to their originality, marketability, scalability, potential social impact and scientific or technical soundness.

Saving Brains

• Funder: Grand Challenges Canada
• Application period: through 6 p.m. EST on Sept. 8, 2014
• Amount of funding: up to 250,000 Canadian dollars ($228,000) for seed grants over a maximum period of 18 months and up to CA$1 million in matched funding for transition-to-scale grants over a maximum period of three years
• Eligibility: institutions from Canada and low- and middle-income countries

For this challenge, Grand Challenges Canada seeks “bold ideas for affordable and evidence-based products, services, and implementation models that protect and nurture early brain development in a sustainable manner.” All projects must benefit poor, marginalized people in low- or middle-income countries.

Thought for Food Challenge 2014

• Funder: Syngenta
• Application period: starts Sept. 2014
• Amount of funding: a grand prize of $10,000 in start-up investment was awarded in 2013
• Eligibility: teams of university students

The funds will support innovative ideas on how to feed nine billion people by 2050. In 2013, Team Henlight from the University of California Davis received the grand prize for a project that aimed to boost egg production using micro solar-powered lights.

Do you know of any active or upcoming innovation funds or challenges? Let us know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on LinkedIn.

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About the author

  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.