Grand Challenge Sénégal

About us

Grand Challenges Senegal is a not-for-profit innovation fund, hosted by the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) foundation. The purpose of Grand Challenges Senegal is to advance the ecosystem for public health innovation in Africa. Grand Challenges Senegal will deploy grant funding to test new ideas led by innovators working in the region and African scientists in the diaspora.   

Grand Challenges Senegal was launched by the Government of Senegal in October 2022 with a vision to enable the next set of breakthroughs in discovery and translational life science in West Africa, with seed funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and ELMA Philanthropies.  

Senegal is rapidly advancing with its strategy to manufacture countermeasures for epidemics, starting with vaccines and diagnostics, and the ecosystem the country builds post-COVID represents an unparalleled opportunity to simultaneously enhance its research and development (R&D) environment.  

Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need. Grand Challenges Senegal will be no different and prioritize innovators that a) integrate across disciplines and converge solutions, b) prioritize Senegal as a setting to exemplify the work but with regional impact and potential for reach, and c) apply the very latest science into an ecosystem that is evolving into a hub for translational impact and production.  


Grand Challenges Senegal has been established to: 

  • Advance life science innovation and public health in Africa 

  • Elevate the work and profile of Senegalese and African innovators in Africa and innovators among the diaspora across the globe.   

  • Deploy the Grand Challenges funding model in Africa, with a particular focus on the ECOWAS region 

  • Support the innovation pipeline from discovery to development to deployment  

  • Support existing grantees of Grand Challenges initiatives in Africa, particularly those supported by Grand Challenges Africa, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and Grand Challenges for Development USAID.  

Grand Challenges Senegal Principles 

The guiding principles of Grand Challenges Senegal are the same as those advanced by Grand Challenges Africa:  

  • Strategic and well-articulated grand challenges will serve both to focus research efforts and to engage Africa’s best innovators. 

  • Projects will be selected based on public, transparent calls for proposals seeking the best ideas. 

  • Funders, investigators, and other stakeholders will actively collaborate and integrate advances to ensure these advances serve those most in need. 

  • Projects will be selected not only for scientific excellence, but also for their likelihood to achieve the desired impact. They must be milestone-driven and actively managed to that end. 

  • Projects and investigators will make equitable access commitments to ensure the fruits of their research are available to those most in need. 


The Board provides oversight of Grand Challenges Senegal innovation fund, supported by independent reviewers of project proposals. Reviewers are recruited from Senegal and across Africa and scientists of the diaspora across the globe.   

The Challenge 

The COVID-19 pandemic has unequivocally demonstrated the need to a fairer deployment of the tools necessary to end epidemics and prevent pandemics.  

Epidemic threats are increasing in their frequency, intensity, and severity – yet the world remains woefully exposed and unprepared.  

Ultimately, the collective strength of our global health security and our ability to prevent and respond to pandemics is a function of the capabilities and systems in different regions of the world. The current system of research and development (R&D) for epidemic countermeasures is inadequate, exacerbated by a lack of focus upfront on manufacturing and access. This has led to the disproportionate neglect of advancing new interventions to outsmart epidemics. 

Detecting and responding to outbreaks early, understanding epidemic dynamics as they evolve, and avoiding the uncontrolled and exponential transmission of a pathogen from isolated to pandemic threat are all necessary steps to achieving health security, yet  

The purpose of this call is to solicit proposals from innovators working across Africa and African scientists in the diaspora on interventions to enhance epidemic intelligence, surveillance, and outbreak response.  

Successful proposals 

Up to 8 proposals will be supported with a grant of $50,000 over a period of 18 months. On completion, successful projects will be eligible for assistance with additional resource mobilization, project planning and grant monitoring.  

A second call for proposals will be launched in October 2023. 

Successful proposals will address one or more of the program areas defined above and be based in Senegal. Projects with a component in Senegal and another African country will be considered eligible, as will projects led by African scientists in the diaspora in partnership with an institution in Senegal.  

Ineligible proposals 

We will not consider funding for:

  • Proposals that do not address one or more of the program areas as defined above 

  • Proposals that do not include an investigator based in Senegal or led by an ECOWAS national 

  • Proposals that do not focus on delivering the program in the ECOWAS region 

  • Proposals that do not include both men and women in the submission 

  • Proposals that do not advance original work 

  • Proposals that are submitted from individuals without an institutional partner or affiliation  

  • Proposals unwilling to align with the Grand Challenges Senegal equitable access policy  


Projects must be completed within 18 months from award and make substantial progress within 9 months of initiation.