Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Rewarding pioneering ideas: grants for innovative approaches to optimize immunization systems

Health workers load cold boxes carrying vaccines onto a bicycle
Measles Initiative

The availability of new vaccines and the substantial funding available to rapidly introduce them into the immunization programmes of developing countries offers a fantastic opportunity to save millions of lives. However, with these opportunities, come challenges -- a key one of which is to ensure that the immunization systems trusted with delivering these vaccines are up to the task.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now accepting proposals for its Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative which fosters innovation in global health research. This year, the initiative offers scientists, inventors, non-governmental organizations, ministries of health and entrepreneurs from around the world the opportunity to acquire US$100 000 grants to pursue unconventional ideas that could transform immunization supply systems in the world's poorest countries.

"This is the time to think outside the box if we want to ensure new vaccines reach the millions of people in the poorest countries. The time for 'business as usual' has passed -- it's time for bold ideas," says Michel Zaffran, Director of project Optimize and Senior Adviser in WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

If you have innovative ideas to optimize the logistics and supply systems trusted with delivering vaccines and improve the performance of these systems, you can apply for the grant by submitting a two-page proposal outlining your idea. The priority areas open for funding include:

  • vaccine characteristic prioritization; supply system design;
  • environmental impact;
  • information systems;
  • human resources; and
  • vaccination acceptance.

Projects showing success will have the opportunity to receive additional funding up to US$1 million.

Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to 495 researchers from 42 countries.

Proposals are being accepted online and the closing date for submission is 17 November 2011.

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