Grand Challenges and ICODA announce COVID-19 Data Science Grant Program

| 19/11/2020

Grand Challenges and ICODA are delighted to announce a new Data Science grant program that will focus on addressing major research questions related to COVID 19.  The program will build on both partners’ commitment to building global collaboration, uniting data and developing analysis infrastructure to achieve rapid scientific progress and impact. It aims to enable discoveries that will benefit people everywhere and reduce the harm of the current and future pandemics.

The initiative will be part of the ongoing Grand Challenges Explorations that seek to develop global collaboration and innovative approaches to major health challenges. Projects that are selected will become part of ICODA’s portfolio of Driver Projects. They will contribute to ICODA’s work to build infrastructure, processes and governance that accelerate scientific progress. The initiative also seeks to grow global communities of researchers and involve patients and the wider public.

‘The Grand Challenge ICODA Data Science initiative offers opportunities for researchers to make significant progress on challenges related to COVID-19 and enable a more effective response to current and future pandemics.’
Dr Steven Kern, Deputy Director of Quantitative Sciences, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


‘This new initiative will enable data scientists to collaborate and address major research challenges associated with COVID-19, build global communities and use ICODA’s workbench and tools to achieve major scientific progress and impact.’
Prof Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK


The Grand Challenge will be formally launched on 17 December 2020. For more information click here

Grand Challenges ICODA COVID19 Data Science Pilot Initiative


ICODA and Grand Challenges have launched the new Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative to focus on addressing major questions about how to reduce the harm of COVID-19 and future pandemics.  The initiative aims to unite data and develop processes, analytical tools and infrastructure to achieve rapid scientific progress and impact, and is a pilot for the ongoing Grand Challenges that seek to develop global collaboration and innovative approaches to major health challenges.

Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives, launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003, to solve key global health and development problems. Selected projects will become part of ICODA’s portfolio of Driver Projects, helping to further develop processes, tools and infrastructure to accelerate scientific progress and foster collaboration between researchers and the public around the world.  This pilot will lead to a larger Grand Challenges Data Science call in late 2021, which will be led by global Grand Challenges partners.

Focus and timeline

The Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science initiative will provide awards of up to US$100,000 for studies lasting for between 6-12 months, starting in mid-March 2021 onwards. In addition, successful applicants will have access to ICODA’s digital workbench, as well as technical and wider support from ICODA and its partners.

Proposals are welcomed from any country or region, with particular priority for those involving researchers and datasets from LMICs.

The Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science initiative launched on 17 December 2020. The deadline for initial submissions was 19 January 2021. The awards will be announced in late June 2021.

Online Information Workshop

Further to our announcement of the Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative for research studies to accelerate progress on addressing COVID-19 through data science, ICODA and Grand Challenges held an online information workshop on 07 January 2021. Researchers from a wide range of organisations and over 140 countries around the world registered for the workshop.

Main agenda points:

• An overview of the Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative, and what we are looking for in applications
• An outline of the longer-term vision for the Global Grand Challenges data science initiatives and how this pilot will contribute
• How the ICODA Workbench and tools, as well as other resources that we will make available to Grantees, will enable and support the selected research studies
• Further information on the terms of the grant awards and what will be supported
• Significant time to address the questions raised during the workshop.

A recording of the event is below, and the presentation slides are available here.

How will we continue the conversation?

We were delighted with the high level of engagement and the large number of questions we received. We received several questions asking if we can facilitate potential applicants who are interested in forming partnerships. We are delighted to announce that we have set up a collaborative website on a platform called a Synapse to help those who would like to build partnerships to support their applications.

We will also be using Synapse to post answers to your questions going forward so please sign up to join the Synapse community so you can see these answers as soon as they are added. Please also now use Synapse to raise any additional questions so we can respond more efficiently and make this information available to the entire community.

A great way to stay connected with ICODA and informed on this grant initiative is also via our social media pages, please join us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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