Humanitarian Grand Challenge

Connecting Business initiative Secretariat • 20 February 2018

Grand Challenges bring global attention and resources to specific, well-defined international problems and promote innovative approaches to solving them. Grand Challenges are about more than sourcing new promising innovations--they are about scaling the solutions that are proven to work. Achieving this requires a holistic approach where we address critical barriers to market growth and expansion.

Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge - a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and Grand Challenges Canada - seeks life-saving or life-improving innovations to help the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people impacted by humanitarian crises caused by conflict. These innovations will involve a connection to the private sector and input from affected communities in order to provide, supply, or locally generate safe drinking water and sanitation, energy, life-saving information, or health supplies and services to help conflict-affected people.

Key focus areas:

  1. Safe Water and Sanitation: We are looking for bold ideas, technologies, processes and approaches that enable rapid provision of safe water and safe disposal of waste and sewage in the most vulnerable households and/or enable implementers to rapidly scale up programs.
  2. Energy: We are looking for bold ideas to generate energy. We are particularly interested in alternative energy solutions that are possible to set up and maintain in conflict situations, and that power life-saving and life-improving services such as health, information, water and sanitation, and education.
  3. Life-Saving Information: We are looking for bold ideas that use and improve access to information and data to increase the impact of humanitarian assistance at the local level as well as enable more effective connections between affected populations and humanitarian actors.
  4. Health Products and Services: We are looking for bold ideas that enable non-experts  to provide quality care; empower skilled staff who choose to work in conflict zones; allow faster or less costly importation and distribution of quality essential health supplies in conflict zones; and enable affected communities to manufacture necessary high quality and safe supplies, or sterilize and reuse them.


Awardees of the first call for innovations are eligible for a host of benefits. These benefits include 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: We expect to fund approximately 10-15 seed projects. Successful proposals for seed funding will each be awarded grants of up to $250,000 CAD over a maximum of twenty-four (24) months to support the validation and testing of new approaches.
  • Transition to Scale Funding: We expect to fund between 2 and 4 Transition-to-Scale projects for up to $1,000,000 CAD 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.


  • Registration Deadline: April 9, 2018
  • Application Deadline: April 12, 2018 at 11:30 am North America Eastern Time Zone (15:30 GMT)
  • Successful applicants receive invitations to submit full Transition to Scale applications: July 2018
  • ​Notification of application status of Seed project applications: September 2018
  • ​Anticipated start date of Seed projects: December 2018
  • Anticipated start date of Transition to Scale projects: Early 2019

For more information and to apply, please see the Humanitarian Grand Challenge website.