Three of the new challenges will be funded through Round 21 of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations program, which awards $100,000 each over eighteen months to very early-stage projects. The Affordable, Accessible, and Appealing: The Next Generation of Nutrition challenge will seek solutions within existing food systems in low-income countries to ensure that food product development, processing, packaging, distribution, and marketing are aligned to improve people's diets. The Tools and Technologies for Broad-Scale Disease Surveillance of Crop Plants in Low-Income Countries challenge will focus on innovations in pest and disease surveillance, especially over large geographic areas, with the goal of helping smallholder farmers mitigate their risks. And the Innovations in Immunization Data Management, Use, and Improved Process Efficiency challenge will focus on identifying ways to collect and use data in real time to improve vaccination coverage and develop process efficiencies that make immunization systems work better for health workers and patients.
A fourth challenge, Data Science Approaches to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Brazil, is sponsored by Grand Challenges Explorations-Brazil and will seek proposals for the analysis of data from multiple databases maintained by the Brazilian ministry of health as well as modeling approaches that lead to cost-effective solutions to persistent problems in maternal and child health. And the Campylobacter spp. Transmission Dynamics in Low- and Middle-Income Countries challenge will focus on understanding the sources of Campylobacter infection — which interferes with children's growth and development — in vulnerable children and the dynamics of transmission in communities where they live.
"The Gates Foundation created Grand Challenges, its flagship open innovation program, in 2003," wrote Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of discovery and translational sciences for the foundation's Global Health program, in a blog post. "Since then, it has grown in almost every conceivable way. Organizations from other countries are sponsoring their own Grand Challenges programs. All the sponsors are issuing challenges that address an even broader range of priorities in global health and development….The bad news is that all this evolution can make it very challenging to explain coherently what Grand Challenges is. The good news is that more and more life-saving and life-improving solutions are coming to the fore."