Innovation-to-Scale: Call for Proposals for accelerated, high impact, and sustainable scale-up of innovations for saving mothers and newborns at birth


The Global Financing Facility of the World Bank, in partnership with Laerdal Global Health, and the Government of Norway


Innovation-to-Scale initiative

For More Information

Proposal format, detailed criteria and current Global Financing Facility (GFF) countries can be found via the following links:

Call for Proposal

Current GFF countries


This call for proposals to support countries with high maternal and newborn mortality to scale up proven innovations to reduce maternal and newborn mortality around and just after birth. This responds to increasing demand from countries to expand and sustain innovations that support their health and nutrition priorities by tackling critical bottlenecks to improved outcomes at scale. This call for proposals is part of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) broader approach to innovations to improve the health and well being of women, children and adolescents. The GFF’s innovation work funds the uptake of innovations through eligible country governments and a broad range of implementing partners, with a focus on sustainability and integration into national health systems. These innovations also address critical gaps in health systems for achieving impact on health and nutrition, as identified in GFF investment cases, or national health development plans and strategies.

The GFF will also work with UNICEF, which will provide a unique value-add through their innovation expertise and strong operational presence in GFF-supported countries.

The goal of the Innovation-to-Scale initiative is to show significant population-level impact on maternal and neonatal mortality around the time of birth and in the immediate postnatal period. Impact requires effective implementation at sufficient scale, and is the product of “three D’s”

  1. Discovery, i.e. proving that an innovation is efficacious in reducing mortality;
  2. Development, i.e. having the tools to deliver such an innovation in actual field conditions, such as training materials for health workers; and
  3. Delivery, i.e. being able to actually achieve a quality outcome at scale - adapting the Utstein Formula for Survival originally developed to improve survival outcomes for cardiopulmonary resuscitation


The emphasis in this call is on Delivery and Impact, which includes both improved quality dimensions and significantly accelerated uptake within a three-year timeframe, compared to current uptake.

Proposals that are focused on Discovery will not be funded under this Call and only limited resources should be devoted to further Development, i.e. the tools required to achieve quality scale-up should already be available

To be eligible for grants under the Innovation-to-Scale initiative, applicants proposals must: 

  • Demonstrate that the proposal address a critical bottleneck to achieving impact on maternal and newborn mortality, as identified in national health development plans/strategies or in GFF investment cases.
  • Be conducted in current GFF countries, which included 27 countries as of March 2019, in those countries that have prioritized maternal and neonatal mortality reduction. 
  • Include documentation that the proposed interventions are already past proof-of-concept and are scalable including, as appropriate, reference to relevant studies/publications as well as prior experience in the country/countries proposed.
  • Include an estimate of lifesaving impact on maternal and newborn mortality, in terms of both outcome-level changes as well as mortality impact.
  • Include a description of plans for integration with national health strategies or GFF investment cases, including demonstrated local ownership, pathway to full-scale deployment and financial sustainability. 
  • engagement and involvement of the ministries of health and any other relevant ministries, thus demonstrating local ownership of the proposed program of work and the potential commitment for uptake beyond the three-year grant.

Proposals may either focus on achieving impact in a single country or multiple countries, whichever approach lends itself to being most truly catalytic in achieving rapid impact, including acceleration of programs already underway.

Proposals are preferred from local in-country implementing organizations or, possibly, implementing organizations that operate at country-level in one or more GFF countries; they can be submitted in collaboration and/or in consortium with international and/or other local partners, such as professional associations or private sector service delivery organizations, as dictated by the requirements of the proposal objectives. While not required, to facilitate coordination with related country activities, representation in the GFF country platform by the applicant is desirable. 

Funding Availability

Five grants are expected to be awarded through this Call; each grant is expected to be up to $5 million, and funding may be provided in multiple tranches.

Maximum Project Value

Each grant is expected to be up to $5 million

Indirect Costs

To Be Determined

Project Duration

The project duration, resulting in expected implementation, is three years from inception of activities


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

Internal Deadline

Researchers are required to submit a signed OR5 form along with their draft Proposal to

External Deadline

Completed Proposals should be submitted to with subject line “Innovation-to-Scale proposal”.  

How to Apply

Completed Proposals should be submitted to with subject line “Innovation-to-Scale proposal”.  

Up to 15 applicants will be requested to send in additional information which will constitute the full-and-final proposal. Note that UNICEF will be supporting the Call as a contracting agency and as a stakeholder in this critical issue. A further select group may be invited to a face-to-face meeting with the proposal review committee, which will include representatives from the GFF Secretariat, Laerdal Global Health, Norad, UNICEF, the GFF Trust Fund Committee, and the GFF Investors Group Private Sector constituency. The aim is to select successful applicants and make awards by September 30, 2019. The programs should be started within 6 months of grant award and be concluded within 36 months of start. 

For Questions, please contact

Questions should be submitted to with subject line “Innovation-to-Scale query”.

Office of Research

Carolyn Dowling-Osborn, Senior Manager, Grants & Contracts
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x52935

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