Saving Lives at Birth Round 8: A Grand Challenge for Development

Deadline: 28 February 2018

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have joined together to launch the eighth round of “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development”.

The program seeks groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the time of childbirth.


For the purposes of this Addendum, the Saving Lives at Birth partners are seeking creative solutions to address roadblocks to healthy pregnancies and births which intersect three domains:

  • Science & Technology: lack of dissemination and uptake of the most recent scientific evidence applicable to delivery of care in low-resource settings; lack of affordable and effective medical solutions appropriate for the community or clinic setting;
  • Service Delivery: lack of quality health services, including inadequate numbers of trained, supported, motivated, equipped and properly located and supervised health staff and caregivers; and limited by operational bottlenecks;
  • Demand: lack of opportunity, agency, ability, motivation, and empowerment to access timely health care or adopt healthy behaviors before, during, and after pregnancy

Grant Information

In addition to funding, and to accelerate impact of the innovation, each grantee will receive $25,000-$50,000 worth of technical assistance in tailored scaling support annually.

Area of Interests

  • Promoting healthy behaviors and generation of demand for services, including voluntary timing and spacing of pregnancy
  • Preventing and addressing the consequences of preterm birth
  • Increasing access to and sustained use of evidence-based, appropriate, quality care with particular emphasis on:
    • Early uptake and retention in antenatal care and simple, low-tech methods of dating pregnancy
    • Equity, including identifying and reaching the most vulnerable populations
    • Accountability to stakeholders and families
    • Eliminating mistreatment of women during birth
    • Improving working conditions of and respect for birth attendants
    • Better monitoring and management of labor to promote maternal and fetal survival and better monitoring and management of special newborn care
    • Making the “old and boring” (but essential and good for maternal and newborn care) seem exciting (e.g. how to take, record, and act upon a blood pressure reading)
  • Addressing key health system bottlenecks that have an outsized impact on maternal and newborn health services with particular emphasis on improving referral and transportation of mothers with complications and sick newborns, including links to facilities
  • Addressing underlying gender, social and cultural barriers and/or opportunities
  • Assessing and addressing the challenges of approaches or technologies proven to work in high-income settings but unproven in low-income settings such as antenatal steroids, progesterone, etc.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The lead applicant must be a non-profit organization, for-profit company, or another recoginized institution that is capable of receiving and administering funding. Individuals are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants may be from high-income countries. However, they strongly encourage the designation of low- and/or middle-income country partners as the lead (i.e. prime) organization. Applicants from high-income countries may be asked to switch the designated lead (i.e. prime) to a low-and/or middle income partner and otherwise may not be able to progress further in the competition.
  • Reviewers will look for partnerships that contribute expertise relevant to the scale and sustainability of the idea. Co-funding and/or matched funding from partners is required, as this demonstrates a key stake in project success by project partners, as well as demand for the solution. Matching funds should be ‘new cash’. Where cash is not possible, and where strong smart partners are present such as government or corporate partners matching through in-kind contributions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Though it is preferred, secured commitment of matched funds may not be required at the proposal stage. Funding committed up to one year prior to submission of the applicant may be considered for match funding.
  • Applicants may not propose projects for longer than 2 years and for more than 1,000,000 CAD (approx. 800,000 USD).
  • Applicants do not need to have received previous Saving Lives at Birth funding to be eligible to apply.
  • Eligible applications will focus on any of the following areas alone or in combination:
    • Developing, testing and refining scaling plan/business model, including generating evidence of health outcomes or conducting further market research needed to engage partners. Estimated funding and timeframe: about $400,000 USD (Up to 500,000 CAD ) for up to 24 months.
    • Transitioning to scale innovations with promising health impact and developed, sustainable scaling plans. These innovations must have demonstrated strong evidence in a controlled or limited setting of improved health outcome(s) and/or the reduction of significant barrier(s) to health and demand for the solution (i.e. proof of concept). Submissions will have the potential to credibly scale in a sustainable manner beyond the term of Saving Lives at Birth funding to improve the lives of millions of pregnant women and newborns in multiple settings. Estimated funding and timeframe: approximately $800,000 USD (up to 1,000,000 CAD) for up to 24 months.

How to Apply

Expressions of Interests (EOIs) must be submitted online via given website.

Eligible Countries:

  • Least Developed Countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia.
  • Other Low Income Countries: Kenya, Korea, Dem. Rep, Kyrgyz Rep, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe.
  • Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories: Armenia, Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cape Verde,  Congo, Rep., Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Syria, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  • Upper Middle Income Countries and Territories: Albania, Algeria, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Gabon, Grenada, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, St. Helena, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, Wallis and Futuna.

For more information, please visit Saving Lives at Birth.

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