Grand Challenges Explorations- India Round 1


Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems


Grand Challenges in Global Health :

The Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative fosters scientific and technological innovation to solve key health problems in the developing world. The initiative includes the Grand Challenges in Global Health grant program and the newer Grand Challenges Explorations grant program.


Grand Challenges India:

On June 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) signed an umbrella Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on mission-directed research and build Grand Challenges India to support health research and innovation. The MOU aims to support initiatives that could dramatically change the health and development landscape in India and other countries facing similar challenges. Specifically, it identifies the following priorities for cooperation:


  • Reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity;
  • Scientific and technical solutions for infectious diseases;
  • Strengthening India’s scientific translation capacity;
  • Scientific and technical advances related to agriculture,
  • Scientific advancement in food and nutrition
  • Other joint interests that may arise.


Grand Challenges initiatives would follow these core principles:


  • Strategic and well-articulated grand challenges serve both to focus research efforts and to capture the imagination and engage the world’s best researchers.
  •  Projects are selected based on national and societal need and transparent calls for proposals seeking the best ideas.
  • Funders, investigators and other stakeholders actively collaborate to accelerate progress and integrate advances to ensure these advanced technologies reach to developing countries masses
  • Projects are selected not only for scientific excellence, but also for their likelihood to achieve the desired impact, and they are milestone-driven and actively managed to that end.
  • Projects and investigators will have to follow global access commitments to ensure the fruits of their research are available to those most in need.


Call announcements under Grand Challenges India



Program Management Unit (PMU):

The Program Management Unit (PMU), under the collaborative effort of DBT-BIRAC- BMGF is  the implementing body to manage the Grand challenges India program. The partners have developed detailed governance and implementation principles that will direct these strategic partnerships. 

BIRAC will work closely with strategic partners to identify and support the scientific and technological opportunities through PMU. The PMU will serve as the project management unit, including an oversight of various joint projects funded under GCI.

BIRAC will play a key role and through the will assist the global network of partners to foster collaborative research to improve global health and dealing with long term development issues. Through Grand Challenges, Government of India, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with other Grand Challenges partners, are committed to seeking out and rewarding not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs, and other innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to develop new preventions, therapies and interventions that are indispensable to save millions of lives each year.



June, 2013- Partnership Meeting

On 5-6 June 2013 the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a series of meetings to advance work under their shared MoU. During the first day of the meeting, DBT, BIRAC, the Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada each presented their organizational goals, objectives and priorities. Partners discussed areas of potential collaboration, including around agriculture, nutrition and family health. This was follows by a meeting which featured broader working sessions with additional partners, including USAID and IKP Knowledge Park, to further explore and develop specific initiatives under the partnership. Topics discussed included: family health and nutritional opportunities; the GCC Saving Brains Initiative; a nutrition and agriculture challenge; a TB innovation challenge; collaborations around IKP, GCE and Rising Star; and drug accelerator opportunities.


November, 2014- Urban Sanitation Challenges in the Developing World: Initiatives and Innovations In association with Centre for Urban Green Spaces

To take the second Grand Challenges India initiative – “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” forward, BIRAC partnered the conference titled- “International Congress on Green Urban Futures”, held in Bangalore, India in November 2014. One of the primary themes of the conference was “Urban futures: Water and Sanitation”.

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November, 2014- Multi sectorial interventions in the context of maternal and child health, with reference to the identified priorities of RFA (All Children Thriving)

Workshop on “Multi sectorial interventions in the context of maternal and child health, with reference to the identified priorities of RFA (All Children Thriving)” 13 – 20th November, 2014