How to Apply

The Challenge

USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and DFID have joined together to launch Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, to find the tools and approaches to help the mothers and newborns during their most vulnerable hours.

We seek groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the time of delivery. 

This is the period when the majority of maternal and newborn deaths occur and the population that has been the most difficult to reach.

We seek innovative ideas that can leapfrog conventional approaches in three main domains: (1) technology; (2) service delivery; and (3) “demand side” innovation that empowers pregnant women and their families to practice healthy behaviors and be aware of and access health care during pregnancy, childbirth and the early postnatal period, especially the first two days after birth.

Seeking Breakthroughs

Significant breakthroughs in innovation often come about when new ideas and disciplines are applied to long-entrenched problems.  New technologies and approaches transform insurmountable development challenges into solvable problems. To harness this ingenuity, we encourage partnerships that bring together diverse expertise from non-traditional partners. And to foster sustainability, we encourage the private sector to bring their expertise and experience to bear on these problems. 

How It Works

Five partners - USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and DFID -  came together to support this single challenge. The World Bank is also an affiliate of this program. Projects will be jointly selected through a unified application process. Successful innovators will be funded and managed independently by one of two funding mechanisms – pooled resources from USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Government of Norway, or Grand Challenges Canada – and supported collectively as a community of innovators by all five partners.

Building a Community of Innovators

Partners will work with this community to foster learning and continued innovation.  Awardees will receive support and networking assistance from each of the partners, engage with other innovators, and participate in high-level meetings including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual Grand Challenge meetings.

Types of Grants

We will invest in a portfolio of projects.  Through this portfolio, we will seek groundbreaking innovations by:

  • Providing seed funds to support the development and validation of ideas capable of impacting health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies in low-resource settings; and
  • Provding transition to scale funds to develop, refine, and rigoursly test the impact of integrated solutions that have previously measured promising health outcomes in a controlled or limited setting and have the potential to credibly scale to improve the lives of millions of pregnant women and newborns in multiple countries.  Transition funding is limited to integrated solutions that unite technology, service delivery, and demand. 

Key Features

  • A brief application.
  • Rapid turnaround time. We aim to select grants within 5 months from the proposal submission deadline.
  • Opportunities for shared learning and collaboration among innovators, funders and other public health experts.
  • A review process designed to identify potentially groundbreaking ideas that show great promise. 

What We’re Looking For

Interventions that:

  • Increase access to primary health care for women and newborns by at least 50%;
  • Substantially improve the quality of care as measured by health outcomes; and
  • Lead to improved and sustained healthy behavior.

Solutions Should

  • Be "off the beaten track," daring in premise, and clearly differentiated from standard practice; 
  • Enhance uptake, acceptability and provide for sustained use;
  • Enable or provide for low-cost solutions;
  • Have a strong likelihood of achieving a substantial impact on one or more important adverse maternal, fetal, or neonatal health conditions;
  • Be scalable in resource-poor settings;
  • Be able to be monitored, measured and evaluated.