Grand Challenges Explorations India (GCE-India) is an initiative to encourage and nurture innovation in areas that impact global health. This is the third call for proposals with the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (DBT), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as funding partners, IKP Knowledge Park (IKP), as an implementation partner, and the Program Management Unit at BIRAC (PMU-BIRAC) as the management partner.

GCE-India is about you, your idea, and empowering you with the tools, network, and funds, to help you take your idea to the next stage of realization. Our network of highly qualified individuals will walk with you for the first two years, help refine your business strategy, provide technical consulting, and help you overcome other hurdles in the early stage of technology development.

The GCE-India initiative mirrors the Grand Challenges Explorations program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to address challenges specific to the Indian healthcare ecosystem

. A pilot for the GCE-India program was run as the IKP-GCE program from 2011 to 2015. We are looking for life changing ideas from talented and motivated professionals, and aim to encourage entrepreneurship in India. Our ultimate goal is the quest for new medical technology devices, drug delivery systems, diagnostics, and technology enabled service models that can potentially be made available to people from all socio-economic strata.

In 2014, about 6% of India’s GDP was spent on healthcare, a large portion of the expenses incurred by the top tiers of population. About 80% of the spending happens in the private sector, a skewed pattern compared to China or Thailand where the Government covers 75% of expenses. The healthcare industry stands at USD 17 Billion and is growing at the rate of 13% per year. GCE-India is where science meets purpose, at a time when emerging economies such as India are poised to compete with larger economies. We expect that healthcare innovation from within our nation will address the needs of our nation better; GCE-India is a search to identify healthcare innovations that will enable the goal of equitable healthcare. For more information on the winners please click the following link.

Grand Challenges Explorations – India

GCE-India ( is an opportunity to put yourself on the same platform as Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) awardees from all over the world, while also leveraging the mentorship, resources and network that all the partners offer.

If selected, you will be eligible for an :

– award of INR 50 Lakh for 18 months
– prize of INR 10 Lakh for successful completion of milestones

Successful projects will also have the opportunity to apply for follow-on funds from BIRAC through the BIPP, SBIRI and/or the GCE Phase II program of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council  (BIRAC) & the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apart from the funding, PMU-BIRAC and IKP Knowledge Park will closely work with the chosen candidates; provide them technical and business strategy advice, as also access to synergistic networks within the nation and outside; factors that would be critical to making an innovation a medical and commercial success.

Scope of GCE-India: Call 3, July 2017

We are seeking ideas to create medical devices, diagnostics, devices and technology enabled delivery systems that will address the health challenges listed below:


  1. Innovations for Novel Diagnostics Systems
  2. Wearables and Technology for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Behavior Change in Low Resource Settings


  1.  Addressing Newborn and Infant Gut Health through Bacteriophage-Mediated Microbiome Engineering
  2. Explore New Ways to Measure Brain Development
  3. Explore New Ways to Measure Gestational Age
  4. Explore New Ways to predict and prevent Birth Asphyxia
  5. Explore New Ways to predict and prevent Neonatal sepsis


  1. Develop Novel Platforms to Accelerate Contraceptive Drug Discovery
  2. Develop the Next Generation of Condom


  1. Explore Innovative Solutions to repurposing old drugs, surveillance and Point Of Care Diagnostics to mitigate Antimicrobial Resistance
  2. Explore New Solutions for Global Health Priority Areas – Enable self-testing for cervical cancer


  1. Novel Enabling Tools and Models Supporting Development of Interventions for Enteric Dysfunction
  2. Explore Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children


  1. New Approaches for Detection, Treatment, and Control of mental health

List of problem statements with deeper explanations can be found here

GCE-India will NOT fund:

  • Ideas that do not address one of the key challenges listed above in Round 3;
  • Ideas or solutions not aligned with the Global Health priority areas of Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (DBT), the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
  • Ideas without a clearly-articulated and testable hypothesis;
  • Ideas not directly relevant to developing countries;
  • Ideas for which a relevant indicator of success cannot be demonstrated within the scope of the GCE-India award of INR 50 Lakh;
  • Approaches that represent incremental improvements to conventional solutions (e.g., research of current methods for vaccine discovery, development and delivery intended to expand, improve or integrate existing technologies or tools)
  • Basic research without clear relevance to the goals of this topic;
  • Solely behavioral change/educational initiatives (e.g., training programs, scholarships, education programs);
  • Solely infrastructure or capacity-building initiatives;
  • Approaches that present unacceptable downstream safety risks (e.g., as a barrier to product development);

Application Process and Selection Criteria

This Call for Proposals is open to anyone from any discipline from India – from researchers and faculty in colleges/ universities/government laboratories/ institutions to startups and SMEs as well as non-profit organizations. We are open to receiving your proposals until 11:59 PM, August 31, 2017 (IST).

Eligibility: Indian Nationals can apply. Indian companies applying for the award should have Registration under Companies Act 1956, and must have 51% equity or shareholding by Indian Nationals only including NRIs. More than 49 % investments by OCI/PIO or any foreign entities will lead to ineligibility. NGOs/ Foundations/ Not-for-Profit Organizations/ Community bodies involved in social innovation or S&T activities must have active participation in India. They need to submit an illustration of their active programs in the country as well as their accomplishment when requested. The statutory recognition through Society Act or SIRO will add credentials when provided.

Proposals will be selected based on the following criteria

We seek proposals that clearly demonstrate the attributes below:

1. Novelty in Innovation
2. Potential Societal Impact
3. Access and Affordability to end users
4. Sustainability
5. Alignment with goals of DBT, PMU-BIRAC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and IKP
6. 18 month Plan and Execution Capability

How to Apply : 

  • Please fill out the form on our program website at
  • Additionally, you will have to submit a two-page description that describes your innovation – the working concept, stage of development, IP ownership issues, a short term strategy
    (for the next 18 months) and long term direction.
  • Please keep the 2 page proposal anonymous with no reference to your names or organization.

An expert panel with representation from academia and industry will evaluate the proposals for novelty and feasibility and shortlist 20-30 proposals. Shortlisted teams will be asked to make a presentation to a jury. Candidates will be visited at their site for further technical and financial due diligence. We expect to make 5 awards in the third call.

For clarifications please email us at [email protected].

Click Here to Apply Online

Last date to Apply : August 31, 2017

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