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Round 14 - GC Africa Grant Applicant Tips

The Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) scheme seeks particularly bold ideas from innovative thinkers around Africa to solve the greatest challenges in global health and development.

Review Process

Due to the large volumes of applications received, proposals go through an initial screening phase in which

those that do not respond to specific elements in the topic description or propose ideas clearly identified as “off‐topic” are removed. Following this initial phase, each proposal is reviewed independently by up to six members of an external panel of reviewers with broad expertise and with experience in identifying innovative approaches to solving daunting challenges. Proposals may also be reviewed by a separate panel of relevant experts. The entire review process is blinded, and the applicant’s name and affiliation are not revealed to the reviewers.

Tips from Reviewers

For Seed grant proposals

Reviewers have identified the following critical characteristics of successful proposals:

  1. Innovation: In the first section of the proposal, applicants should include one or two sentences in bold that capture the essence of their idea. These sentences should convey what is exciting about the idea, why it is innovative and how it differs substantially from existing solutions. Applying expertise from outside the topic area is one of the sources of innovation evident in funded projects.
  2. Responsiveness of the Proposal: The proposal must explain how the idea addresses a key need illustrated in the topic description. In addition, the topic description highlights ideas that will not be funded, so applicants should make sure that their idea does not fall into one of these excluded categories.
  3. Testability of the Idea: Applicants must include a clear, logical and thoughtful description of how the proposed idea will be tested and produce interpretable and unambiguous data. Since proposals are reviewed “blind,” this description is a key element in conferring scientific credibility on the project.
  4. Feasibility of the Project: The application must describe how the work will be performed within the specified budget and time frame allocated for the award.
  5. Potential for Increased Funding: GC is designed as a two‐phase funding mechanism whereby projects that have shown initial promise can receive increased funding. Phase I applications are more likely to be funded if they clearly and convincingly describe a general plan for moving forward in Phase II.
  6. Clarity: Most of the reviewers for each proposal are likely not to be deep experts in the field. To maximize the chance of being funded, proposals should be written in clear language without jargon specific to a particular field. Given the two‐page limit, proposals also should be concise and balanced in how they present the elements described above.

Transition to scale proposals

  1. Integrated Innovation: How strong is the coordinated application of scientific/technological, social and business innovation to maximize the likelihood of going to scale and achieving sustainable impact at scale?
  2. Impact : What is the potential for enhancing climate adaptation for agriculture in Africa?
  3. Entrepreneurship: Does the team have the capacity, skills and ability to implement on their proposed vision and strategy?
  4. Smart Partnerships: Does the team have sufficient strategic alliances and/or partnerships that will enable scaling of the innovation?
  5. Sustainability: Is there a viable path to reach financial sustainability via private and/or public channels (without further funding from us)?
  6. Intended Scope of Work: Are the scope of the proposed plan and the funds requested reasonable and commensurate with the proposed goals for Transition to-Scale?
  7. Execution: Can the proposed plan be feasibly implemented, sustained, and financially supported during the Transition-to-Scale funding period and beyond?
  8. Compliance: Will the proposed plan be compliant with relevant laws and regulatory regimes? Applicants must be conversant with current laws, regulations, national plans, local systems and policies, and institutions that are relevant to the development, delivery, and uptake of funded innovations, and must indicate how they will comply and work within these rules and institutions.