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Frequently Asked Questions


Top Questions

  • 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 specific to the GCE challenge they are applying to and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.

  • If you forget your password, click on the "Forgot Your Password?" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and follow the instructions to reset it.

  • The foundation makes grants and other investments to further its charitable objectives to help people live healthier and more productive lives. We make these grants and investments where we can have the greatest impact. The humanitarian license is an important tool for ensuring that the results of our funding are available to our intended beneficiaries. More can be found here: https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/Humanitarian-License-Nonbinding-FAQ.pdf

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

About Grand Challenges Explorations

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

  • 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 Grand Challenges Explorations targets projects that are at an earlier stage of discovery. The Explorations challenges address many of the same challenges defined in the original Grand Challenges in Global Health 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."

  • GCE rounds are run twice a year; we expect rounds to open in the Spring and Fall of each year. Please sign up to receive updates here.

  • Please see the Rules and Guidelines specific to the challenge you are applying to. For more information on our review process, please click here.

Challenges

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

  • Please submit your challenge-related questions to [email protected]. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 specific to the GCE challenge they are applying to and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.

  • Yes, please download and use the application form specific to the challenge you are applying to 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. All applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Please read the Rules Guidelines specific to the challenge you are applying to for further details.

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 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.

Grant Terms and Conditions

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

  • Please visit our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use page for more information.

  • 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.

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

  • 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 specific to the challenge you are applying to for a full description of the reporting requirements.

  • 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 specific to the challenge you are applying to for a full description of the Global Access Objectives.

Help/Contact

  • Please submit your challenge-related questions to [email protected]. 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 log back into your Survey Monkey Apply account and pull up your submitted application to make edits in advance of the submission deadline.

  • If you forget your password, click on the "Forgot Your Password?" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and follow the instructions to reset it.

  • 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.

  • Please contact [email protected] for questions and issues with using this site.

  • 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 [email protected]

  • Please notify [email protected] so we can repair them.

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.

Great ideas come from everywhere.

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View the Grand Challenges partnership network

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.