Grand Challenges for Development

Saving Lives at Birth: Up for the Challenge
Saving Lives at Birth: Up for the Challenge
Making All Voices Count: A Grand Challenge for Development
Making All Voices Count
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development
The Grand Challenges for Development initiative
is rooted in two fundamental beliefs about international development:
  • Science and technology, when applied appropriately, can have transformational effects; and
  • Engaging the world in the quest for solutions is critical to instigating breakthrough progress.

Under the Grand Challenges for Development initiative, USAID will focus on defining problems, identifying constraints, and providing evidence based analysis.  Addressing these challenges will require the creation and support of self-perpetuating systems, rather than one-off inventions or interventions.

Seven Grand Challenges have been launched.

Combating Zika and Future Threats

To stop the spread of Zika and prevent other infectious disease outbreaks,USAID launched Combating Zika and Future Threats: A Grand Challenge for Development. USAID is calling for the global innovator community to generate cutting-edge technologies and approaches to fight Zika in the near term and to help strengthen the world’s response to infectious diseases in the future.

The Challenge seeks to spur innovation across a wide array of immediate and longer-term needs, including vector control, personal protection, surveillance, sample transport, and community engagement.

For more information visit: Combating Zika and Future Threats: A Grand Challenge for Development

Fighting Ebola

USAID and the Office of Science and Technology are coordinating the launch of a Grand Challenge to help healthcare workers on the front lines provide better care and stop the spread of Ebola. USAID is asking for a range of solutions that should enable longer work periods; require less personal protective equipment (PPE) and fewer transitions; provide cleaner work environments; and generate less infectious waste and/or offer enhanced protection for disposal of waste. Solutions should:

  • Improve upon standard practice (required);
  • Be “off the beaten track,” daring in premise (ideal);

  • Enhance acceptability and provide for sustained use;
  • Be low-cost or highly cost-effective;

  • Can be produced at large scale rapidly;
  • Are able to be monitored, measured and evaluated.

For more information visit: Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development

Securing Water for Food

USAID and Sweden are looking for scientific and technological innovations to more effectively use and manage the water required to produce food in developing and emerging countries. We are focusing on three areas that are critical to reducing water scarcity in the food value chain:

  • Water reuse and efficiency,
  • Water capture and storage, and
  • Salinity

For more information, visit:

Saving Lives at Birth

USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, The World Bank, and the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID) call for groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, low resource communities around the 48 hours of delivery through:

  • Science and technology advances that prevent, detect or treat maternal and newborn problems at the time of birth;
  • New approaches to delivering high-quality care at the time of birth;  and
  • Empowering and engaging pregnant women and their families.

For more information, visit:

All Children Reading

Launched in 2011 by USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) solicits creative, cost-effective innovations from the global science, technology, education and broader development communities to improve reading for children in early grades.

Round two of ACR GCD combines grants with a series of prizes to seek out technology-based innovations that support improvements in basic reading skills with a focus on mother tongue instruction and reading materials, family and community engagement, and children with disabilities.

Learn more and submit your solution at:

Powering Agriculture

Launched in June 2012, Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development will overcome critical barriers to agricultural electric energy access through innovative clean energy technologies and financing mechanisms.  The effort will bring global attention to the persistent energy access issues that confront farmers throughout the developing world in agricultural production, processing, and storage.

This Grand Challenge for Development encourages innovators to find new ways to bring clean energy to farmers through sustainable and scalable solutions that will create more and better quality food for farmers, their families, and their communities.  It is also expected that these innovations will create new economic opportunities in agricultural communities in the developing world.

For more information, visit:

Making All Voices Count

Making All Voices Count will support people and governments to use innovation, web and mobile technologies to improve government performance and accountability. This unique partnership will amplify the voices of citizens and enable governments to open up, listen and respond.

Link to site:

Last updated: April 20, 2016

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