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 Grand Challenges Explorations Frequently Asked Questions

Grand Explorations Frequently Asked Questions
Most Frequently Asked Questions
 How do I apply for a grant?
See the GCE Application Instructions page for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a grant. All applicants must complete the Application Form and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.
Who is eligible to apply?
We accept applications from both private and public organizations. You must be affiliated with an organization to apply -- we are unable to make grants to individuals. See the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's exclusion criteria for more information on what we do not fund.
Will you provide guidance on an application before I submit it?
No. We cannot provide individual guidance on ideas either before or after submission. You should decide if your idea meets the criteria of one of the available topics, or sign up to receive updates on future topics. Pay special attention to sections that indicate what will NOT be considered for funding.
What are the criteria for selection?
Reviewers will be encouraged to champion proposals according to the following criteria:
• Topic Responsiveness: Does the proposal address the problems described in the topic? (Please note each topic description includes a list of excluded items, typically under the heading "we will not consider funding for");
• Innovative Approach: Does the idea offer an unconventional or creative approach to the problem outlined in the topic? Does it demonstrate application of a new or pioneering approach? Does the proposal describe how the project varies from current approaches, offers new premises or hypotheses to test, and does it provide a rational basis for expecting success?
The Round is closed. Can I still submit my idea?
No. We can only accept ideas during an open Round. Any proposals submitted via email or otherwise will not be reviewed. You can see if a current Round is open by visiting our website.
Are the current topics the only ones under consideration at this time?
The topics for a current round are listed here. These are the only topics under consideration at that time. Future rounds of GCE may repeat topics or have new topics available. You may find other Grand Challenges funding opportunities here, and any foundation-wide open requests for proposals here.
What if I forget my password?
If you forget your password, click on the "I forgot my password" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and you will be asked the security question you supplied when you first created your account. When you answer the question correctly, a temporary password will be emailed to you. Sign in with this password and then create a new one.
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About Grand Challenges Explorations
What is the relationship between Grand Challenges Explorations and the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative?  How are they different?
Grand Challenges Explorations is an extension of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. Both initiatives focus on encouraging innovation in global health and development research, although the Grand Challenges Explorations program targets projects that are at an earlier stage of discovery. The Explorations topics address many of the same challenges defined in the 16 Grand Challenges, in addition to new areas.
How much are the Grand Challenges Explorations grants?
Phase I grants will be for $100,000 USD for a grant period of 18 months. Phase I projects that show promise will be eligible to apply for follow-on funding, called "Phase II."
How many awards will be funded?
We anticipate funding approximately eighty awards each round although this number is dependent on the quality of proposals received.
What is the anticipated schedule for awards?
The planned schedule is located in the Rules & Guidelines document. For more information on our review process, please click here.
When is the next round scheduled?
GCE rounds are run twice a year; we expect rounds to open in March and September of each year. Please sign up to receive updates here.
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Topics
What topics does the initiative address?
Current open and past Grand Challenges Explorations topics can be viewed on the Topic Descriptions page. Future rounds of Explorations may address different topics. For examples of topics we have run in the past, please see the All Topics page. Please sign up to receive updates here.
Who can I contact if I have a question about a particular topic?
Please submit your topic-related questions to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org. Due to the volume of requests we will not be able to provide feedback on your individual idea, but we can answer general questions regarding the application process.
Can I submit multiple proposals for the same topic?
Only one proposal can be submitted per applicant, so please submit your best idea. However, multiple submissions from an institution are allowed. For example, a single lab could apply three times to a single topic if the principal investigator (PI), a post-doc and a graduate student each submit separate ideas as the lead.
Where can I find a list of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s disease priorities?
A list of the foundation’s disease priorities can be found at the foundation website.
Are the current topics the only ones under consideration at this time?
The topics for a current round are listed here. These are the only topics under consideration at that time. Future rounds of GCE may repeat topics or have new topics available. You may find other Grand Challenges funding opportunities here, and any foundation-wide open requests for proposals here.
Will you provide guidance on an application before I submit it?
No. We cannot provide individual guidance on ideas either before or after submission. You should decide if your idea meets the criteria of one of the available topics, or sign up to receive updates on future topics. Pay special attention to sections that indicate what will NOT be considered for funding.
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Application Process
How do I apply for a grant?
See the GCE Application Instructions page for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a grant. All applicants must complete the Application Form and submit their idea through our online portal in order to have their idea considered.
Is there a specific format for the application?
Yes, please download and use the Application Form for your proposal submission. Follow all formatting guidelines listed on this template as proposals that do not adhere to all restrictions may be disqualified. You must upload this form and submit it through our online portal.
The Round is closed. Can I still submit my idea?
No. We can only accept ideas during an open Round. Any proposals submitted via email or otherwise will not be reviewed. You can see if a current Round is open by visiting our website.
Am I able to edit my profile and proposal once submitted?
Yes. You may edit and resubmit proposal content at any time prior to the close of the round.
When will I hear whether or not my application has been selected for funding?
We expect award notifications to be sent out via email approximately five months after the submission deadline.
What feedback can I expect if my proposal is not selected? 
We cannot provide feedback specific to the technical content of each proposal. We will, however, communicate with applicants once a decision has been reached.
Are awarded grantees announced publicly?
Yes. We publicly announce winners approximately six months after a round closes.
Do I have to submit my proposal using the online application portal?
Yes. All applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Please read the Rules & Guidelines for further details.
Is it possible to have multiple applicants on a proposal?
Partnerships and collaboration are welcome within a single application. However, applicants need to elect one Principal Investigator per team. If awarded, the grant will be made to the institution of the Principal Investigator. If you’re planning to collaborate with another institution on your project, please read the rules and guidelines, specifically the section addressing subcontracts, before you apply.
I submitted my proposal but did not receive a confirmation.  How would I know if my proposal went through?
Our system automatically sends an email when you submit your proposal.  Please check your junk mail folder.
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Review Process
What are the criteria for selection?

Reviewers will be encouraged to champion proposals according to the following criteria:
• Topic Responsiveness: Does the proposal address the problems described in the topic? (Please note each topic description includes a list of excluded items, typically under the heading "we will not consider funding for");
• Innovative Approach: Does the idea offer an unconventional or creative approach to the problem outlined in the topic? Does it demonstrate application of a new or pioneering approach? Does the proposal describe how the project varies from current approaches, offers new premises or hypotheses to test, and does it provide a rational basis for expecting success?

What is the review process? 

The review process will be done in three steps: 
1. An initial screening for responsiveness to the problem described in the topic; 
2. Evaluation by two groups of reviewers -- one with significant expertise in program management specific to each topic, and another group of individuals with a history of identifying creative solutions to difficult scientific problems. In each case, reviewers will be encouraged to champion a small number of ideas they consider to be both uniquely innovative and testable;
3. A series of due diligence activities to ensure a legal and financial capacity to perform work described in the proposal.

Find more information on the review process here.

Will my idea be treated as confidential during the review process?
The foundation has put in place policies and procedures exclusive to the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative that is intended to restrict public dissemination of grant application materials. These policies and procedures include, when possible, having external reviewers sign confidentiality agreements and requiring that reviewers destroy or return to the foundation all copies of information acquired or created during the course of performing a review. In some instances, however, we are unable to put in place confidentiality agreements or to police the use of grant application materials.
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Grant Terms and Conditions
Do you publish or publicly disseminate proposals or grant applications materials?
The foundation is required by the IRS to publish a list of its grants. We may also provide a general description of our grants on our web sites, in press releases, and in other marketing materials. Subject to the foundation’s Privacy Policy, the foundation may also share information you provide to us (either orally or in writing) with third parties, including external reviewers, key partners and co-founders. This document is subject to the foundation’s Terms of Use.
Who is eligible to apply?
We accept applications from both private and public organizations. You must be affiliated with an organization to apply -- we are unable to make grants to individuals. See the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's exclusion criteria for more information on what we do not fund.
Who signs the grant agreement?
During the application process, you are required to provide your Institutional Officer's information. The Institutional Officer is the person authorized to sign the grant agreement on behalf of your organization. If awarded, all relevant due diligence questionnaires and the grant agreement will be sent to this person. We strongly encourage applicants to provide accurate contact information.
How is intellectual property handled?
We respect the intellectual property of our grantees, but we ask them to structure their IP in a way that allows the developing world to access their drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, or any other health interventions at an affordable price. Our Global Access Objectives aspire to ensure that the poorest of the poor have access to any knowledge or products that we fund. We do not provide a blueprint for exactly how this should be done; we leave that to our partners. Please see Rules and Guidelines for a full description of the Global Access Objectives.
What are the reporting requirements for these grants?
A Final Financial and Scientific Progress Report will be prepared by all GCE Phase I grantees. Detailed instructions for the reporting format will be provided post award. Please see the Rules & Guidelines for a full description of the reporting requirements.
How can I spend my grant funds?
The full terms and conditions of the grant award are detailed in the Rules & Guidelines. Please note that indirect costs are not allowed under GCE Phase I grants.
Is the Explorations initiative open to applicants from outside the United States?
There is no geographical restriction for applicants. We encourage scientists worldwide to submit their ideas.
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Help/Contact
Who can I contact if I have a question about a particular topic?
Please submit your topic-related questions to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org. Questions will be routed to appropriate foundation staff and answers will be posted regularly. Due to the volume of requests we cannot respond to individual questions.
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Technical Support
Where do I go for website related issues?
Please contact the GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org for questions and issues with using this site.
I can't log in. Where do I get my temporary password?
When you first create an account, a temporary password is sent to the email address you have provided. If the email does not appear in your inbox please check your "Junk Mail" folder. Sometimes emails are blocked by an enterprise level spam filter. When you first log in using your temporary password, you will be prompted to change your password.
What if I forget my password?
If you forget your password, click on the "I forgot my password" link on the Grand Challenges login page, and you will be asked the security question you supplied when you first created your account. When you answer the question correctly, a temporary password will be emailed to you. Sign in with this password and then create a new one.
If I forgot the answer to the security question, can I request the password for my account to be reset?
If you forgot the answer to the security question, you can send an email to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org requesting the reset of the password of your external account. Provide the user email address to which the temporary password will be sent.
If I forgot the answer to the security question, can I request the answer for the security question to be changed?
If you forgot the answer to the security question, you can send an email to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org requesting the change of your security question. Sign in to the Grand Challenges site, then click Profile to change your security question and answer.
The GCE online application portal is not loading for me. What can I do to fix this?
If other websites load normally, it is likely that a large number of users are currently accessing the system. Wait at least one hour and try the site again. If the issue persists, please email the specifics of your problem to GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org
Will my data be lost if I navigate away from this site?
To ensure that your data is saved, click the Save or Submit button prior to navigating away from the site. Please note that you will be automatically logged out after one hour of inactivity.
Where can I report broken links?
Please notify GCEhelp@gatesfoundation.org so we can repair them.
How do I edit a previously submitted proposal?
1. Login to the GCE Application tool.
2. Click on "Proposal" on the left hand navigation.
3. Fill in all required fields.
4. Upload your updated file and click "Submit."
5. Your proposal will be resubmitted and you will see a page thanking you for your submission. You will also receive a confirmation email.
6. You have successfully updated your proposal.
I’m having trouble uploading my application file. What should I do?
Your document must be saved with one of the following extensions: *.pdf, *.doc, or *.docx. Otherwise, try recreating your document using Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or Word Pad and uploading again.
I'm asked to log in when opening the Application Form.
This is an issue with some versions of Microsoft Office. Click Cancel and the application form will open for you.
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Selection Criteria
Why wasn’t my proposal selected?
Given the size and nature of the program, we are not able to provide individualized feedback to each applicant. Generally, applications are not funded due to one of the following reasons:

1. It presents an idea that is explicitly excluded from consideration for funding. For more information, please see the topic descriptions.
2. It does not directly address the topics for that round.
3. It is not complete. Applications that do not contain a coherent idea, design or description of the work to be performed are not considered for funding.
4. It does not describe how the idea offers a creative approach to the problem and how it varies from current or conventional approaches.
5. It does not clearly outline or describe the specific objective(s) to be accomplished within the time period of the initial award.

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