Today, approximately 201 million people around the world live in areas experiencing humanitarian crises. Millions of these people are unreachable by traditional humanitarian aid delivery due to armed conflict. As the length, frequency, and scope of the world’s conflicts increase, it is becoming more difficult to reach affected people in insecure areas with life-saving and life-improving humanitarian assistance. We need new solutions that respond to the needs of vulnerable, inaccessible communities – yet, less than one percent of humanitarian aid is focused on investing in the innovations necessary to reach them.


The U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development, the Government of the Netherlands, and Grand Challenges Canada are partnering on Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge. Through this Grand Challenge, we are identifying and supporting groundbreaking local solutions that engage the private sector and draw from the experiences of affected communities in order to significantly improve - and in many cases, save - the lives of vulnerable people affected by conflict. Our goal is to identify solutions that allow communities to respond more nimbly to complex emergencies and take steps to create better lives for themselves.


We seek life-saving or life-improving innovations that engage the private sector and involve input from affected communities to help people hardest-to-reach in humanitarian crises. By mobilizing governments, companies, and foundations, and through a combination of grants, capacity-building services, and research, the Grand Challenge seeks to:

  • Build the case for private sector engagement in conflict settings.
  • Identify, test, and scale solutions to the world’s most intractable problems in conflict settings.
  • Advance the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.



We seek innovations that focus on people who are particularly vulnerable in conflict-affected humanitarian crises. This includes people who are particularly vulnerable due to their gender, sexuality, religion, age, or income; people with disabilities, chronic health conditions; as well as people who are stateless, minorities, or unable to evacuate to safety.


The second call for innovation opened May 21, 2019 and is focused on providing, supplying, or locally generating: 1) clean water and sanitation 2) energy 3) life-saving information or 4) health supplies and services to help conflict-affected people. The application deadline closed on July 16, 2019, and awardees will be announced in early 2020.

The first call for innovations closed in 2018 and received over 615 applications from 86 different countries. About one-third of the applications involved projects led by women. The Humanitarian Grand Challenge awarded $5 million in seed funding to over 22 bold innovators.


AWARDEES of all calls for innovations under this Grand Challenge are eligible for a host of benefits including Seed or Transition to Scale Funding, publicity and marketing promotional support, exclusive industry, investor, and partner networking events, solution development acceleration support, mentorship opportunities, and partnership brokering support.

SEED FUNDING: 15-25 Seed projects are expected to be awarded per call for innovation. Successful proposals for seed funding will each be awarded grants of up to $250,000 over a maximum of twenty-four (24) months to support the validation and testing of new approaches.

TRANSITION TO SCALE FUNDING: 2-4 Transition-to-Scale projects are expected per call of up to $1,000,000 with technical support over a maximum of twenty-four (24) months to support the refinement, testing, and implementation of innovative solutions that have already achieved proof of concept.


The Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership aimed at addressing the immediate needs of the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations - people affected by conflict. To reach our goal, we seek connections and strategic relationships with humanitarian actors and the private sector that will help identify, promote, and scale up groundbreaking solutions that save and improve lives in complex emergency situations. Interested in partnership opportunities?

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