What is Grand Challenges Canada?view-pdf


Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact® in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we fund innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation®. We focus on bringing successful innovation to scale, catalyzing sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. 

Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through our Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges through Saving Lives at BirthSaving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. We help transition promising innovations from the proof-of-concept stage to scale through our Transition-to-Scale program.

Grand Challenges Canada launched on May 3, 2010. To date, we have supported over 700 projects totaling $177 million implemented in more than 80 countries and have leveraged $269 million in additional funding from outside the Government of Canada, including significant private sector investment. Our investments are producing results: Over 3.5 million beneficiaries have already accessed our innovative products or services (based on about half of our funded projects reported to date). Thousands of lives have been saved and over ten thousands lives have been improved. We anticipate even more impressive outcomes as these innovations move from proof-of-concept to scale.

Mr. Joseph L. Rotman OC, founding Chairman of Grand Challenges Canada

Stars in Global Health – Stars in Global Health, the ‘venture capital’-like component of our work, supports exceptional innovators who have Bold Ideas with Big Impact in the area of global health, and who are based either in Canada or low- or middle-income countries. Since 2011, Grand Challenges Canada has funded over $50 million and supported 478 proof-of-concept grants through the Stars in Global health program.

Transition-to-Scale – Grand Challenges Canada enabled the creation of a rich pipeline of global health innovations and has evolved into a platform that offers opportunities for social enterprises and impact investors, to generate measurable and sustainable social impact. We have approved 59 Transition-to-Scale projects in the Stars in Global Health portfolio, including investments in Point-of-Care Diagnostics and projects co-funded with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Phase II Grand Challenges Explorations program.

The Phone Oximeter offers real-time monitoring of vital signs and will enable diagnosis and treatment of pre-eclampsia, with the potential to reduce maternal and child mortality by upwards of 30% over the next 10 years

Saving Lives at Birth – Grand Challenges Canada, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) are partners in the Saving Lives at Birth initiative. To date, 81 innovations have been funded over the course of four award rounds to address the 289,000 maternal deaths, 2.8 million newborn deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year.



Melinda Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Peter A. Singer

Saving Brains – Saving Brains promotes the fulfillment of human capital potential by focusing on interventions that nurture healthy child and brain development in the first 1,000 days at scale with lasting impact on human capital in low-resource settings. Total investments to date are $38.5 million in 106 projects, including 6 Transition-to-Scale investments. Current partners include:


Drs. Karlee Silver and Peter A. Singer with Ms. Laureen Harper

Global Mental Health – Global Mental Health seeks to improve treatments and expand access to mental health care in low- and middle-income countries. To date, our total investment is over $32 million for the development of the Mental Health Innovation Network (mhinnovation.net) and 64 projects, including 9 Transition-to-Scale investments.

KIDS conducting evaluations with parents

Global Health Investment Fund – The Global Health Investment Fund was launched on September 23, 2013. Grand Challenges Canada is the anchor investor in this fund with a US $10 million investment.

Bill Gates, the Honourable Christian Paradis and Jamie Dimon at the GHIF launch