A clear and innovative vision

A refractor. Sightsavers is a U.K.-based charity that focuses on preventing blindness, restoring eyesight, and advocating for social inclusion for blind or visually impared people. Photo by: Omer Wazir / CC BY-SA

Got an idea for how to prevent visual impairment or ensure children who can’t see well get a good education? Keep an eye on the Sightsavers Innovation Fund.

A number of grant programs have sprung up lately to address global development challenges. Some, such as the Saving Lives at Birth Challenge, are being led by traditional donors like the U.S. Agency for International Development. Others are spearheaded by the private sector. And some, like the Sightsavers Innovation Fund, come from foundations that only recently decided to open up the competition to innovators around the globe.

That fund, launched May 9, seeks to support innovative practices, partnerships and approaches on three themes: eye health, inclusive education and social inclusion for people with disabilities. It is led by Sightsavers, a U.K.-based charity whose focus is on preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and advocating social inclusion for blind or visually impaired people.

A total of 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) is up for grabs for nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, as well as research and private sector organizations. Innovations may not necessarily be “brand new.” It could be an approach or practice applied for the first time in a country, or a new way of applying an existing one.

Some of the identified challenges: strengthening eye health systems, building the capacity of education support systems, and ways to help people with disabilities work or start their own businesses. Sightsavers will “regularly” monitor the progress of winning projects.

Organizations can submit up to two proposals, but only one proposal per theme. Proposals should include an implementation and budget plan. Applications from think tanks, government and intergovernmental organizations, and those receiving funding from the civil society department of the U.K. Department for International Development under the Program Partnership Arrangement, however, will not be considered.

Organizations with projects in the 50 countries ranked in the bottom of the Human Development Index 2010 or 2011 are eligible to apply. Winners receive up to 75,000 pounds. The deadline for the submission of proposals is June 19.

Read our last #innov8aid.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.