News Release

Projects in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax receive grants from Grand Challenges Canada to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries

Toronto, Canada – Grand Challenges Canada today announced a CDN $2 million investment in 20 Canadian innovations to address persistent challenges in women’s and children’s health in low- and middle-income countries.

Hatched in Canadian institutions from coast-to-coast, the bold ideas embrace a range of creative solutions to save and improve lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women and children across Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

The projects will each receive seed grants of approximately CDN $100,000 to develop and test their innovations, funded by Grand Challenges Canada with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

Among the innovations:

  • In Nepal, innovators from the University of Victoria will use 3D printing to fabricate high-quality, low-cost orthotic devices for children suffering from skeletal deformities like clubfoot and scoliosis.

A prototype of a 3D printed scoliosis brace made out of polypropylene undergoing benchmark testing. The Velcro straps allow for quick and easy adjustment. Photo credit: Derek Bell

  • In Kenya, WelTel Inc. (Vancouver, BC) will develop and test “Uberlance”: a private-public, app-based ride sharing program to facilitate lifesaving transportation for expectant pregnant women in remote, resource-limited settings.

WelTel Uberlance truck. Photo credit: WelTel

  • In the Philippines, innovators with the University of Toronto will improve child nutrition by producing instant ramen noodle packets supplemented with spirulina, a nutrient-rich alga providing more protein per gram than meat or plant sources, as well as all essential amino acids, iron, and vitamins A, B, and K.

The summer 2017 rooftop pilot project team showing off some dried Spirulina. Left to right: Kyungwon Ha, Peter Schnurr, Corina Ramirez, and Radia Tasnim. Photo credit: David McMillen

  • In Ethiopia, innovators with the University of Saskatchewan will teach mothers to mix an age-old source of calcium – ground eggshells – in with their children’s food in order to alleviate the symptoms of fluorosis, a debilitating condition caused by ingestion of excessive fluoride that can impact mobility and livelihoods. Each eggshell contains 2,000 mg of calcium and, finely ground and mixed into meals, it binds to fluoride from food and beverages, preventing its absorption.

In 2016, the project piloted the intervention, providing families with chickens in a ceremony. Photo credit: Anteneh Omer

For further details of all 20 projects, see the Project Descriptions (PDF).

Over seven rounds of funding since 2011, with the support of the Government of Canada, Grand Challenges Canada’s Stars in Global Health program has provided CDN $52 million to 471 projects implemented in 81 low- and middle-income countries. 19 percent of these innovations are now scaling and have the potential for significant impact by 2030, exceeding the 10 percent success rate expected in comparable venture capital models.


“ By sparking and supporting bold ideas to improve global health, Canada is having a big impact on the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women, adolescents, and children. I am also pleased that many of these ideas support Canada’s top development priorities: advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls.”

– Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada

“Grand Challenges Canada is committed to supporting bold ideas and is proud to partner with the Government of Canada in realizing its new Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada’s ongoing global leadership in development innovation will help drive progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,  particularly Goal Three: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

– Dr. Karlee Silver, Vice President Programs, Grand Challenges Canada


For Media Enquiries

Press Officer
Grand Challenges Canada
+1.416.583.5821 Ext. 5564 / +1.647.328.2021

Hero photo courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross