Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development

- Saving Lives at Birth -

A Grand Challenge for Development


USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the Government of Norway, and the World Bank 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. All partners expect to provide nearly $14 million for this grant program's first round of funding. Over 5 years, the partners aim to invest at least $50 million in groundbreaking and sustainable projects.


'Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development' seeks groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in rural, low-resource settings around the time of delivery. The program seek innovative ideas that can leapfrog conventional approaches in three main domains: (1) technology; (2) service delivery; and (3) "demand side" innovation that empowers women and their families to be aware of and access health care at the time of birth and adopt healthy behaviors.


Seeking Breakthroughs

Significant breakthroughs in innovation often come about when new ideas and disciplines are applied to long-entrenched problems.  Science and technology can do more than address specific technical challenges; it inspires collective action by turning impossible challenges into solvable problems. To harness this ingenuity, the program 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 came together to support this single challenge. Projects will be jointly selected through a unified application process. Successful innovators will be funded and managed independently by one of two funding mechanisms – the Saving Lives at Birth Pooled Fund and 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

'Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development' will invest in a portfolio of projects.  Through this portfolio, it will seek groundbreaking innovations by:


·        Providing seed funds to support the development and validation needed to bring either component innovations or integrated innovations to proof of concept; and

·        Funding the transition to scale of integrated innovations for which there is either compelling evidence of a cost effective impact on the lives of pregnant women and newborns that justifies the long-term public funds or a credible plan for long-run scaling using private funds without a subsidy.  Transition funding is limited to integrated innovations.


Key Features

·        A brief application.

·        Rapid turnaround time. The program 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.


What 'Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development' is 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

·        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 described above

·        Be scalable in resource-poor settings

·        Be able to be monitored, measured and evaluated




Strong proposals will include bold ideas that look beyond conventional approaches in three main areas: (1) developing new technologies; (2) creating more reliable and efficient ways to deliver health services; and (3) engaging communities in novel ways and furthering understanding of the benefits to both mother and child when they receive health care at the time of birth.



Applications must be submitted by April 29, 2011.


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