Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Grand Challenges Explorations - Grant Opportunities


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Global Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE)

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Global Grand Challenges - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Frequently Asked Questions - Global Grand Challenges


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is inviting proposals for the latest round of the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. Applications on the following six topics will be accepted:

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports hundreds of early-stage projects – including many ideas that have never before been tested – and innovators from a wide range of disciplines and regions. The GCE initiative funds innovative ideas that could lead to new vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, and other technologies targeting diseases that claim millions of lives every year, as well as improvements and innovations in agriculture development and other priority areas of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GCE is an extension of the foundation’s commitment to the Grand Challenges in Global Health, which was launched in 2003 to accelerate the discovery of new technologies to improve global health. Since then, GCE has expanded to include global development and communications challenges, and the Grand Challenges family of programs launched additional funding opportunities in 2014. To date, the foundation has committed over half a billion dollars to support hundreds of projects on topics such as making childhood vaccines easier to use in poor countries and creating new ways to control insects that spread disease.

GCE invites you to read summaries of the GCE grants funded to date and to explore an interactive world map of projects across the global Grand Challenges funding partner network. 


Applicants can be at any experience level; in any discipline; and from any type of organization, including colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

Maximum Project Value

Initial grants are for $100,000 USD (Phase I) and successful projects are eligible to receive follow-on funding of up to $1M USD (Phase II). 

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Awarded projects will have a start date in May, 2019 and will have an 18-month project term. This 18-month time period should include project work time, ramp up and required reporting.

Special Notes

Tips for Applicants:

  • Your proposal must demonstrate an innovative approach that complies with all restrictions and guidelines for the topic to which you are applying. The foundation only funds projects responsive to the topics included in each round as it has a number of other avenues of funding for the equally important research that is otherwise within currently accepted program paradigms.
  • Proposals are sent to reviewers without personal or organizational information. Do not include this information in the body of your proposal. Proposals that include personal or organizational information in the body of the proposal may be automatically removed from consideration.
  • In addition to subject matter experts, your proposal will be reviewed by a panel with broad expertise and a track record in identifying innovations – these reviewers may not be deep domain experts in your field. You must describe your idea in clear language without the use of jargon unique to your field.
  • The work proposed in your application must include a clear set of key experiments or activities that test your idea in a way that could provide sufficient evidence to warrant funding. Proposals with vague descriptions or vague testing methodologies will not be funded


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Please submit your application/proposal, along with an OR-5 to

External Deadline

PI to submit full application directly to the sponsor by 2:30pm EST (11:30am PST) using the GCE online portal. 

How to Apply

If you are an existing user, you can log in to your existing account. New users must create an account and submit proposals through our online portal.

Applicants are encouraged to use the provided application form (see Attachments). Applicants are required to submit either a Microsoft Word or PDF document; no more than two pages in length. Please do not include a cover sheet with your proposal. A cover sheet will be automatically generated from your registration data.


For Questions, please contact

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

Office of Research

Carolyn Osborn, Director, Grants & Contracts
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52935

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