Saving lives at birth
USAID launches Grand Challenges for Development
"To make advances in maternal and newborn health, our real opportunity lies in harnessing the power of innovation—scientific, technological, and behavioral—to build a continuum of invention from bench to bush. Innovations in products and the platforms we use to deliver them will allow us to expand our reach to women who will likely never set foot inside a hospital."
US Agency for International Development Administrator (USAID) Rajiv Shah made these comments at the March 9 launch of a new program called Saving Lives at Birth:A Grand Challenge for Development. The program will provide grants to foster innovative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in rural, low-resource settings. “I believe this will spark revolutionary advances” with the power to change women’s lives around the world, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during the program launch.
The program leverages the collective resources of USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank. Partners aim to provide nearly $14 million for the program's first round of funding, with the goal of investing at least $50 million over five years. The program will disburse two types of grants: Seed grants of up to $250,000 each will support the development and validation needed to bring either component innovations or integrated innovations to proof-of-concept. Transition grants of up to $2 million each will support the transition to scale of promising innovations.
The initiative is designed to foster breakthrough ideas that can reduce the cost of delivery and make it easier to reach more women and children with less money. Grants will be disbursed with the aim of developing and delivering innovations that are affordable, sustainable, scaleable, and work in the developing world. One of the program's central goals is to find the intersection between science and community wisdom, such as finding innovations that come from communities and young innovators in the developing world. “We must partner to develop new technologies and seek new ways of delivering solutions to women and children who need them most," Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said. She added, "This initiative will speed up progress we're already making—and will lead to new kinds of progress that we have yet to conceive."