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Rules and Guidelines - Round 15 AI Call

Grand Challenges Africa Innovation Seed 

Rules & Guidelines 

Request for Proposals – GC Africa Round 15: Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use to Improve Global Health  

I Overview 

Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) is a scheme of the Science for Africa Foundation initiated to support innovations that address Africa’s health and developmental challenges. The scheme seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by awarding seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. 

This call is a joint initiative of the Science for Africa Foundation partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and other Grand Challenges partners. 

Eligibility Criteria 

Note that this request for proposals is being launched by six Grand Challenges partners: African researchers located in Ethiopia, Senegal, and South Africa, should apply through the corresponding country-specific Grand Challenges portal; African researchers located in all other African countries should apply through the Grand Challenges Africa portal; Brazilian researchers located in Brazilian organizations should apply through the Grand Challenges Brazil portal; and Indian researchers located in Indian organizations should apply through the Grand Challenges India portal. Please consult the information provided in the subsection referencing Geography of Interest on the linked partner site to ensure that your application fits the requirements of the RFP you are applying to.  

Funding levels 

This call will fund seed grants of up to $100,000 for a period of 12 months. We expect that projects funded with promising results will have the opportunity to apply for additional funding to build on initial success. In all cases, individual project budgets should be representative of the scope and magnitude of the proposed mandate and carefully designed to get the best possible value out of the award. 

Key features of the GC Africa initiative are: 

  • A short application form to lower the burden of entry  

  • Rapid turnaround time: We select projects within approximately six months of the proposal submission. 

Successful proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:   

  • Scientific and technical excellence, including a clear and rigorous conceptual framework for research activities  

  • Innovation, including creativity of the project’s approach and clear differentiation from existing approaches 

  • Unique project resources, including investigator and organization capabilities and potential to enhance intra - African collaborations, mentorship and supervision in future.  

  • Value in terms of appropriateness of the budget and timelines relative to project complexity, risk, and potential impact.  

  • Potential to lead to prevention and treatment solutions with substantial impact.  


II. Application Instructions 

How to Apply 

All applications must be made through our Grants Management system. Changes to the Rules and Guidelines will be posted on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page of our website.  Please read the current FAQ before submitting any questions or concerns.  

Application Format 

Subject to the SFA Foundation Data Privacy and Protection Policy, GC Africa may share information you provide to us (either orally or in writing) with third parties, including external reviewers, key partners and co-funders. 

An applicant may submit multiple ideas in partnership with collaborators, but an individual Principal Investigator may lead the submission of only one proposal.  You may change your topic and edit your proposal any time before the application deadline. 

The review and evaluation of your application are not based on your past history or institutional capabilities. Do not include personal or Institutional information and do not refer to potential project partners by names or other identifying information in the section describing your project. Proposals that do not adhere to these restrictions will be removed from consideration. 

During the application process, you will be required to confirm that you have read and understood the SFA Foundation Data Privacy and Protection Policy and these Rules and Guidelines and acknowledge that any information that you provide to us (either orally or in writing) will be subject to and handled in accordance with such provisions.  

III. Review Process 

The review of proposals is a critical element of the GC Africa initiative - its goal is to filter and harness creative ideas. For each round, we advertise a set of challenges carefully defined to elicit innovative responses to critical barriers in global health and development. 


The SFA Foundation has put in place policies and procedures intended to restrict public dissemination of application materials. These policies and procedures include confidentiality agreements which external reviewers sign and that require reviewers to 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 application materials. 

The Data Privacy and Protection Policy sets out what the foundation will do with the information that it collects from you during the grant/award application process and throughout the life of the grant/award (including all information relating to the grant/award application and, as applicable, any subsequent grant/award made). 

Information that you supply to the SFA Foundation including in any application and progress or update report, may be used to process applications and administer grants/awards, for the purposes of audit and evaluation and to monitor the fairness of and trends in application decisions. Your information may be disclosed for these purposes only to individuals and organisations connected with the foundation, including funding partners, external peer reviewers and external committee members.  Your information may also be shared with selected third parties for the purpose of independent audit, evaluation and assessment of activities funded by the grant/award and their outputs and outcomes. All personal data will be stored and used by or on behalf of the Foundation in accordance with the Data Privacy and Protection Policy. 

The SFA Foundation may publish details of successful grants/awards and their outputs, including your name, employing organisation, project title, a summary of the grant/award and its value and, in the case of grants/awards funding research, scientific/academic abstracts and lay summaries of research (e.g. via the internet or via publicly accessible databases or other modes of publicity). 

The SFA Foundation may amend this Statement from time to time.  Any material changes in how the foundation collects uses or shares your personal data will be posted on our website. 

Review of Proposals 

Due to the large number of proposals anticipated, applicants with proposals that are not selected for review will receive a notification of decline without specific feedback. Nonetheless, applicants are encouraged to submit ideas in future rounds. We will update our FAQ based on common themes to provide guidance for future applications. 

The review process for GC Africa Calls is executed in six steps: 

  1. Triage:  SFA Foundation will constitute a triage team from its in-house pool of program staff and invited external experts. The triage teams will code proposals based on pre-defined criteria designed by the foundation to ensure quick distribution to reviewers as well as remove incomplete proposals or those that are not responsive to the topic or other grant conditions. Based on the volume of applications, we may not be able to give individual feedback, but we will endeavour to give collective feedback to applicants. 

  2. Independent review of proposals: Responsive proposals will be sent to internal and external reviewers who will be given an opportunity to evaluate and identify strong proposals to reflect a merit-based process for subsequent consideration by the decision-making committee. Reviewers will be instructed to review for the responsiveness to the topic, the level of innovation of the approach presented, the quality of the execution plan and potential for building strong collaborations for GC Africa Calls. The aim is to have each application reviewed by at least 3 independent reviewers. To avoid bias and minimize conflicts of interest, proposals will be sent to reviewers without the applicants’ personal and organizational information.  

  3. Review and portfolio selection: Once comments and feedback are received from the reviewers, GC Africa will compile and share the final portfolio with the decision-making committee. 

  4. Decline emails: All applicants will be notified of the status of their application, regardless of outcome. All rejected proposals will receive an email declination.  

  5. Funder due diligence, legal review and grant-making: SFA Foundation will initiate the process of required due diligence and legal review, as appropriate and before issuing grant award letters to winner, this due diligence review ensures that the investigator and institution have the basic capacity to receive the award (taking into consideration legal requirements to which the SFA Foundation is subject) and perform the work described. Investigators will be contacted as part of the due diligence review. 

Management of Conflict of Interest  

To identify and avert conflicts of interest among reviewers, reviewers will not be permitted to review proposals from organizations with which the reviewer has self-identified conflicts of interest in accordance with the Foundation’s conflict of interest policy.   

V. Frequently Asked Questions 

Answers to any application questions can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions under our website  

VI. Inquiries 

Please direct all questions about this initiative, selection criteria, or application instructions by e-mail to the following address:  [email protected]