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 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. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

Dr. Peter A. Singer and the Honourable James Flaherty

Mr. Joseph L. Rotman, Chairman


Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada launched on May 3, 2010. To date, we have supported more than 500 innovations.:

Stars in Global Health, the ‘venture capital’-like component of our work, which supports exceptional innovators who have Bold Ideas with Big Impact in the area of global health, and who are based either in Canada or in low- or middle-income countries. To date, Grand Challenges Canada has supported 396 innovations at the $100,000 level and 6 innovations have been successful in the Transition to Scale phase.

Dr. Jan Andrysek’s artificial knee joint

Saving Lives at Birth, in which Grand Challenges Canada has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the Government of Norway and the UK’s Department for International Development. So far, 61 innovative projects have been funded to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns in poor communities around the time of childbirth.

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

Saving Brains, which promotes the fulfillment of human capital potential by focusing on interventions that nurture and protect early brain development in the first 1,000 days of life. To date, 27 projects have been approved through this program. In November 2013, Grand Challenges Canada welcomed the Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation, Bernard van Leer Foundation and Grand Challenges Brazil, an initiative of the Brazil Ministry of Health, as new partners.

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

Global Mental Health, which seeks to improve treatments and expand access to mental health care in low- and middle-income countries. Grand Challenges Canada has committed up to $30 million CAD for the most promising Bold Ideas with Big Impact. So far, 36 innovative, pioneering projects have been funded to improve mental health diagnosis and care in developing countries.
Pictured to the right, the Kenya Integrated Intervention Model for Dialogue and Screening (KIDS) is conducting evaluations with parents. Photo Credit: Africa Mental Health Foundation

KIDS conducting evaluations with parents

Our secondary strategic priority is to leverage the Grand Challenges Canada platform to engage strategic partners by testing new models of aid, with a focus on private investment, blended value, pay-on-results and testing new models of innovation diplomacy by forging valuable innovation-focused partnerships with significant international organizations, agencies and countries. For example, Grand Challenges Canada is currently working with key stakeholders in Israel to implement Grand Challenges Israel.

To date, grants to 420 Canadian and low- and middle income country innovators have been approved by the Board of Directors.

Please visit grandchallenges.ca and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.