Top Questions

No. We cannot provide individual guidance on ideas either before or after submission. You should decide if your idea meets the criteria of one of the available challenges, or sign up to receive updates on future topics. Pay special attention to sections that indicate what will NOT be considered for funding.

See the GCE Application Instructions page for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a grant. All applicants must complete the Application Form and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.

We accept applications from both private and public organizations. You must be affiliated with an organization to apply -- we are unable to make grants to individuals. See the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's exclusion criteria for more information on what we do not fund.

Reviewers will be encouraged to champion proposals according to the following criteria: 

  • Challenges Responsiveness: Does the proposal address the problems described in the challenge? (Please note each challenge description includes a list of excluded items, typically under the heading "we will not consider funding for");
  • Innovative Approach: Does the idea offer an unconventional or creative approach to the problem outlined in the challenge? Does it demonstrate application of a new or pioneering approach? Does the proposal describe how the project varies from current approaches, offers new premises or hypotheses to test, and does it provide a rational basis for expecting success?

No. We can only accept ideas during an open Round. Any proposals submitted via email or otherwise will not be reviewed. You can see if a current Round is open by visiting our website.

The challenges for a current round are listed here. These are the only challenges under consideration at that time. Future rounds of GCE may repeat challenges or have new challenges available. You may find other Grand Challenges funding opportunities here, and any foundation-wide open requests for proposals here.

If you forget your password, click on the "I forgot my password" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and you will be asked the security question you supplied when you first created your account. When you answer the question correctly, a temporary password will be emailed to you. Sign in with this password and then create a new one.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is an extension of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. Both initiatives focus on encouraging innovation in global health and development research, although the Grand Challenges Explorations program targets projects that are at an earlier stage of discovery. The Explorations challenges address many of the same challenges defined in the 16 Grand Challenges, in addition to new areas.

Phase I grants will be for $100,000 USD for a grant period of 18 months. Phase I projects that show promise will be eligible to apply for follow-on funding, called "Phase II."

We anticipate funding approximately eighty awards each round although this number is dependent on the quality of proposals received.

The planned schedule is located in the Rules & Guidelines document. For more information on our review process, please click here.

GCE rounds are run twice a year; we expect rounds to open in March and September of each year. Please sign up to receive updates here.

Challenges

Current open Grand Challenges Explorations challenges can be viewed on the Grant Opportunities page. Future rounds of Explorations may address different challenges. For examples of challenges we have run in the past, please see the Challenges page. Please sign up to receive updates here.

Please submit your challenge-related questions to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org. Due to the volume of requests we will not be able to provide feedback on your individual idea, but we can answer general questions regarding the application process.

Only one proposal can be submitted per applicant, so please submit your best idea. However, multiple submissions from an institution are allowed. For example, a single lab could apply three times to a single challenge if the principal investigator (PI), a post-doc and a graduate student each submit separate ideas as the lead.

A list of the foundation’s disease priorities can be found at the foundation website.

 

The challenges for a current round are listed here. These are the only challenges under consideration at that time. Future rounds of GCE may repeat challenges or have new challenges available. You may find other Grand Challenges funding opportunities here, and any foundation-wide open requests for proposals here.

No. We cannot provide individual guidance on ideas either before or after submission. You should decide if your idea meets the criteria of one of the available challenges, or sign up to receive updates on future topics. Pay special attention to sections that indicate what will NOT be considered for funding.

Application Process

See the GCE Application Instructions page for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a grant. All applicants must complete the Application Form and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.

Yes, please download and use the Application Form for your proposal submission. Follow all formatting guidelines listed on this template as proposals that do not adhere to all restrictions may be disqualified. You must upload this form and submit it through our online portal.

Yes. You may edit and resubmit proposal content at any time prior to the close of the round.

 

We expect award notifications to be sent out via email approximately five months after the submission deadline.

We cannot provide feedback specific to the technical content of each proposal. We will, however, communicate with applicants once a decision has been reached.

 

Yes. We publicly announce winners approximately six months after a round closes.

Yes. All applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Please read the Rules & Guidelines for further details.

Partnerships and collaboration are welcome within a single application. However, applicants need to elect one Principal Investigator per team. If awarded, the grant will be made to the institution of the Principal Investigator. If you’re planning to collaborate with another institution on your project, please read the Rules & Guidelines, specifically the section addressing subcontracts, before you apply.

Our system automatically sends an email when you submit your proposal.  Please check your junk mail folder.

No. We can only accept ideas during an open Round. Any proposals submitted via email or otherwise will not be reviewed. You can see if a current Round is open by visiting our website.

Review Process

The review process will be done in three steps:  

  1. An initial screening for responsiveness to the problem described in the challenge;  
  2. Evaluation by two groups of reviewers -- one with significant expertise in program management specific to each challenge, and another group of individuals with a history of identifying creative solutions to difficult scientific problems. In each case, reviewers will be encouraged to champion a small number of ideas they consider to be both uniquely innovative and testable;
  3. A series of due diligence activities to ensure a legal and financial capacity to perform work described in the proposal.

Find more information on the review process here.

Reviewers will be encouraged to champion proposals according to the following criteria: 

  • Challenges Responsiveness: Does the proposal address the problems described in the challenge? (Please note each challenge description includes a list of excluded items, typically under the heading "we will not consider funding for");
  • Innovative Approach: Does the idea offer an unconventional or creative approach to the problem outlined in the challenge? Does it demonstrate application of a new or pioneering approach? Does the proposal describe how the project varies from current approaches, offers new premises or hypotheses to test, and does it provide a rational basis for expecting success?

The foundation has put in place policies and procedures exclusive to the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative that is intended to restrict public dissemination of grant application materials. These policies and procedures include, when possible, having external reviewers sign confidentiality agreements and requiring that reviewers destroy or return to the foundation all copies of information acquired or created during the course of performing a review. In some instances, however, we are unable to put in place confidentiality agreements or to police the use of grant application materials.

Grant Terms and Conditions

The foundation is required by the IRS to publish a list of its grants. We may also provide a general description of our grants on our web sites, in press releases, and in other marketing materials. Subject to the foundation’s Privacy Policy, the foundation may also share information you provide to us (either orally or in writing) with third parties, including external reviewers, key partners and co-founders. This document is subject to the foundation’s Terms of Use.

We accept applications from both private and public organizations. You must be affiliated with an organization to apply -- we are unable to make grants to individuals. See the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's exclusion criteria for more information on what we do not fund.

During the application process, you are required to provide your Institutional Officer's information. The Institutional Officer is the person authorized to sign the grant agreement on behalf of your organization. If awarded, all relevant due diligence questionnaires and the grant agreement will be sent to this person. We strongly encourage applicants to provide accurate contact information.

We respect the intellectual property of our grantees, but we ask them to structure their IP in a way that allows the developing world to access their drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, or any other health interventions at an affordable price. Our Global Access Objectives aspire to ensure that the poorest of the poor have access to any knowledge or products that we fund. We do not provide a blueprint for exactly how this should be done; we leave that to our partners. Please see Rules & Guidelines for a full description of the Global Access Objectives.

A Final Financial and Scientific Progress Report will be prepared by all GCE Phase I grantees. Detailed instructions for the reporting format will be provided post award. Please see the Rules & Guidelines for a full description of the reporting requirements.

The full terms and conditions of the grant award are detailed in the Rules & Guidelines. Please note that indirect costs are not allowed under GCE Phase I grants.

There is no geographical restriction for applicants. We encourage scientists worldwide to submit their ideas.

Help/Contact

Please submit your challenge-related questions to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org. Due to the volume of requests we will not be able to provide feedback on your individual idea, but we can answer general questions regarding the application process.

Technical Support

Please contact GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org for questions and issues with using this site.

When you first create an account, a temporary password is sent to the email address you have provided. If the email does not appear in your inbox please check your "Junk Mail" folder. Sometimes emails are blocked by an enterprise level spam filter. When you first log in using your temporary password, you will be prompted to change your password.

If you forget your password, click on the "I forgot my password" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and you will be asked the security question you supplied when you first created your account. When you answer the question correctly, a temporary password will be emailed to you. Sign in with this password and then create a new one.

If you forgot the answer to the security question, you can send an email to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org requesting the reset of the password of your external account. Provide the user email address to which the temporary password will be sent.

If other websites load normally, it is likely that a large number of users are currently accessing the system. Wait at least one hour and try the site again. If the issue persists, please email the specifics of your problem to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org

To ensure that your data is saved, click the Save or Submit button prior to navigating away from the site. Please note that you will be automatically logged out after one hour of inactivity.

  1.  Login to the GCE Application tool
  2. Click on "Proposal" on the left hand navigation. 
  3. Fill in all required fields. 
  4. Upload your updated file and click "Submit." 
  5. Your proposal will be resubmitted and you will see a page thanking you for your submission. You will also receive a confirmation email. 
  6. You have successfully updated your proposal.

Your document must be saved with one of the following extensions: *.pdf, *.doc, or *.docx. Otherwise, try recreating your document using Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or Word Pad and uploading again.

This is an issue with some versions of Microsoft Office. Click Cancel and the application form will open for you.

Selection Criteria

Given the size and nature of the program, we are not able to provide individualized feedback to each applicant. Generally, applications are not funded due to one of the following reasons:

  1. It presents an idea that is explicitly excluded from consideration for funding. For more information, please see the challenge descriptions.
  2. It does not directly address the challenges for that round. 
  3. It is not complete. Applications that do not contain a coherent idea, design or description of the work to be performed are not considered for funding.
  4. It does not describe how the idea offers a creative approach to the problem and how it varies from current or conventional approaches. 
  5. It does not clearly outline or describe the specific objective(s) to be accomplished within the time period of the initial award.