Have you ever wondered what possessed an individual to scrape another person’s smallpox scab and put it onto their own skin? What were they thinking? I can only imagine it was a moment of trepidation mixed with bravery and a belief that this daring idea could change the world. Although we don’t know exactly what sparked this moment of brilliance, we can say that this first, crude instance of inoculation was the work of an innovator. It’s about seeing a problem in a different way and a willingness to take the big risk to solve a problem. This early innovation set the stage for the future development of vaccines that have saved millions of lives around the world.
The hallmarks of innovation are the same today. It takes just one person, anywhere in the world, to see a problem in a different light and be willing to take risks to change the status quo. That is why the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) initiative exists. Anyone, from anywhere and from any discipline, who has a bold idea to tackle a specific major global health and development problem can apply for a GCE grant. These $100,000 awards foster research into the next generation of innovative ideas that could transform health in the developing world.
Today we are announcing over 100 GCE Phase I grantees who are joining us to find innovative solutions in global health and development. In addition, I’m excited that we have six new projects which are taking the next stage in the GCE program to continue their idea with up to $1M USD. Since 2008, over 700 scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs from nearly 50 countries have used their GCE grant to test out new and radical approaches to major global health challenges. They are working on projects such as finding ways to eradicate malaria and HIV, improve vaccines and vaccine delivery, advance maternal and infant health, and new methods to protect crops for agriculture.
We are currently soliciting proposals for the latest Round of Grand Challenges Explorations. This time, we are seeking innovators to address drug discovery, vaccine delivery, protecting crops, and even new ways to tell the story about the positive impact of development aid. Your idea may be just what we are looking for.
GCE Round 9 will continue accepting applications until May 15th, 2012.
Grand Challenges Explorations wants to hear from you. What is your great idea?