India centric health innovation takes center stage at Grand Challenges Exploration

The GCE-India collaboration has announced the first call for proposals encouraging innovation in the areas of contraceptive drug discovery, self-testing for cervical cancer and malaria diagnostics

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New Delhi: The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and IKP Knowledge Park (IKP), a science park and start-up incubator has announced the first call for proposals under the Grand Challenges Explorations India programme.

“The GCE-India programme aims to address challenges that are faced by the Indian healthcare system by encouraging innovative solutions to tackle the same. We are looking for ideas that have the potential to change how people look access healthcare in India. GCE-India looks to foster entrepreneurship in India. Our goal is the search for drug delivery systems, diagnostics, and technology enabled service models and medical devices that can potentially be made accessible to all,” said Dr K VijayRaghavan, Secretary, DBT.

Awardees will vie for an award of Rs 50 lac, with a prize of Rs 10 lakh for successful completion of milestone.

The programme is seeking ideas in the following areas: contraceptive discovery platforms; new therapies for childhood cryptosporidium infection; preservation of stool samples for room-temperature transport and remote-analysis; global burden of antimicrobial resistance; point-of-care nucleic acid diagnostics below $2 per test; and self-testing for cervical cancer and malaria diagnostics.

The awardee will be eligible for an award of INR 50 Lakh for 18 months, and a prize of INR 10 Lakh for successful completion of milestones. Successful projects will also have the opportunity to apply for follow-on funds from BIRAC through the Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programme (BIPP), Small Business Innovation Research Initiative (SBIRI) and/or the GCE Phase II program of the DBT, BIRAC and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

‘”GCE-India is looking to empower potentially life-changing ideas and enable scale-up. Our network of highly qualified individuals will work with innovators to help refine strategy and provide technical consulting. Through this programme, we aim to identify nurture and empower revolutionary ideas that address global health challenges” said Dr. Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CEO at IKP Knowledge Park.

Apart from the funding, BIRAC and IKP Knowledge Park will closely work with the chosen candidates; provide them technical and business strategy advice, as also access to synergistic networks within the nation and outside; factors that would be critical to making an innovation a medical and commercial success.

“GCE-India is the platform which will enable idea generation and help translate research into action. If India is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the larger economies, it is important that it becomes self-sufficient. Therefore, we expect that healthcare innovation from within the nation will be able to address the needs of the country better; GCE-India is a search to identify healthcare innovations in India that will enable standardized healthcare for all irrespective of where they seek it,” said Dr Steven Buchsbaum, Deputy Director, Discovery & Translational Sciences, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This Call for Proposals is open to everyone, from any discipline from India. The applicants may be researchers and faculty in colleges, universities, government laboratories, institutions to startups and SMEs as well as non-profit organizations.The program is accepting proposals until June 30, 2016. The information on eligibility, application process and selection criteria can be found at www.gce-india.org.