BIRAC-Call For Proposal

GCI Announces Call For Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence AI Use to Improve Global Health Last Date - 23rd December, 2023 01:00 PM

The power of science and innovation can improve global health and development outcomes and dramatically reduce global inequity. Harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve the lives and wellbeing of women, children, and vulnerable communities everywhere.

As AI technology continues to swiftly evolve and advance, the global community must move with urgency to ensure low- and middle-income countriesi (LMICs) are included in the co-creation process. AI solutions targeting LMICs must be locally driven and owned and relevant to each person's needs. Local communities must be given the opportunity to provide their own perspective and cultural context so that they can decide on both 1) their own thresholds for safe usage and 2) the overall utility of AI within their own lives.


Additionally, LMICs must have equitable access to AI tools and approaches. Responsible global use of AI entails a safe, equitable, transparent, reliable, and beneficial process that is adhered to with a high level of accountability. As the world rapidly moves to seize AI's opportunity, it is imperative to monitor and mitigate the safety, ethical, equity, and reliability dimensions of AI deployment. This will allow the enormous resilience, creativity, and commitment of researchers, scientists, and policymakers to capture the full capability of AI for lasting good.

The Grand Challenges India (GCI) call is jointly supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Government of India (GoI), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to address the need for an equitable and responsible approach to the use of AI and specifically Large Language Models (LLMs) in LMICs. This GCI call is the first step towards identifying, nurturing, and catalyzing the creativity, energy, and skills that researchers, implementers, governments, and technical partners have demonstrated in solving specific challenges in their countries and regions through LLMs. We are optimistic that this effort will lead to potentially transformative technology to improve the lives and conditions of the most vulnerable communities around the world.

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The purpose of this call is to seek innovative approaches to the use of LLMs to advance public health in India and across the globe. Given the numerous open and non-open-source AI tools, we encourage/expect the applicant to select the tool most appropriate to their use case and context. 


The call is soliciting proposals that seek to solve problems in the following areas: 

  1. Clinical Decision Support  
  1. Tools for that can be used by frontline health workers or clinicians for improving the diagnosis and management of health conditions and/or healthcare delivery.  
  1. Support for health guideline refinement and adherence  
  1. Diagnostics interpretation, reducing cost, and overcoming at-a-distance barriers 
  1. Population Health & Policymaking 
  1. Support for policymakers in leveraging new and timely insights through routinely available, underutilized, or unused data sources of text and voice. 
  1. Reduce time delays to transition new evidence into policy and implementation, as well as optimizing resource allocation.  
  1. Approaches that can distill information and make timely recommendations from complex and evolving datasets (e.g., forecasting disease epidemics and progression) 
  1. Support for Frontline Health Workers 
  1. Personalized coaching for semi-skilled FLWs that is tailored, highly relevant, and leads to an improved quality of service and/or lower costs.  
  1. LLM supported solutions for workflow management (e.g., writing discharge summaries, etc.) 
  1. Use of LLMs to support skilled FLWs in delivering higher quality services and improved efficiency 
  1. Health Communications & Patient Journeys 
  1. Develop impactful and targeted communications tools that bridge language and literacy gaps when communicating health-related knowledge, messaging, and advice (i.e., translating from local dialects, text-to-voice, etc).   
  1. Provide timely, trusted, and tailored advice to end users who are marginalized and in so doing overcome significant cultural, access and stigma concerns.  
  1. Support patients in understanding and managing their own health status and care regiment 
  1. Health Systems Strengthening 
  1. Use of LLMs to improve interoperability of health systems and programs 


Ideally, the proposal will: 

  • Work on a specific problem that has been identified as a priority in India.
  • Leverage AI to increase productivity and efficiency in healthcare. 
  • Contribute to the body of evidence related to AI use in our country and across global health. 
  • Foster innovation with AI in the interest of supporting public health decision-makers and affected communities. 
  • Place a strong emphasis on systematically observing, validating, and quantifying the improved outcomes balanced with cost-effectiveness from AI use. 
  • Conform with global principles of AI use i) to do no harm ii) to leverage technology against the toughest/most relevant global health problem iii) ensure that projects are led from our country even though there may be a high-income country (HIC) partner iv) local voices and ideas are captured throughout the process, and v) there is a dissemination plan of the outcomes of the projects. 
  • Give local communities an opportunity to provide their own perspective and cultural context so that they can decide on both i) their own thresholds for safe usage and ii) the overall utility of AI within their own lives.   


Priority will be given to proposals that have

  • an explicit request for an AI-supported project in India.
  • those projects that have already completed a pilot before this Grand Challenges call, and/or, 
  • projects that have lessons/tools that can be transferred to other use cases/

situations/ contexts with minimal change. 

  • Emphasize the importance of community-specific, culturally appropriate, and representative AI 


What We Are Looking For: 

  • Proposals that demonstrate clear applications of LLMs to address a specific challenge related to global health in the Nation
  • Proposals that demonstrate the grantee has a firm grasp of the application, has done some of the stakeholder mapping, and has an engagement plan with local decision makers to ensure the proposal is successful.  
  • Proposals that present a high leverage and scalability opportunity. 
  • Proposals that outline a clear, feasible, and reproducible methodology. 
  • Proposals that have timely access to data, decision-makers’ time and interest in using AI 
  • Proposals that articulate how the project will lead to impact in the near-term and how those benefits will be sustained past the lifetime of the project. 
  • Proposals that are driven by a shared commitment to open science, data sharing, and building collaboration and analysis infrastructure to enable discoveries that will benefit people everywhere. 
  • We particularly encourage applications from women-led organizations and applications involving projects led by women. 

This RFP is India-led; the programme is open to Indian academics, research institutions, companies, society, trusts and foundations.

Project cost will be sanctioned to researchers and innovators who are Indian individuals or Indian entities*, we also encourage partnerships with researchers of national/international expertise, subject to the call guidelines.

Note: Please read the following carefully to understand the category you will be applying under and the documentation that may be requested should your proposal be selected for further financial due diligence. This call is open to:

  1. In case of the applicant being an Indian academic scientist, researchers and Ph.D     students (citizen of India) who must be willing to incubate at a recognized incubator submit a letter of intent for same.


  • Companies incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 2013 having a minimum of 51% Indian ownership.

iii)Limited Liability Partnership

  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) incorporated under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 having a minimum half of the persons who subscribed their names to the LLP document as its Partners should be Indian citizens.

iv)Indian institution/ universities/ public research organization

  • Academic institutions established in India and having NAAC/ UGC/ AICTE or any equivalent recognition certificate or any other Public/Government supported organization

v)Society/ Trust/ NGO/ Foundation/ Association

  • Society/ Trust/ NGO/ Foundation/ Association established in India under the relevant Indian Law having  at  least  half  of  the  stakeholders  (partners/  trustees/ members/ associates etc.) as Indians.

Experts of the relevant discipline as mentors should be a part of the proposal such as healthcare professionals, data analytics experts, m-health specialists, management experts, logistics experts, M&E experts among others.

  • Note: The evaluation of eligibility shall be based on the status of documents as on the closing date of the call.

Through national and international collaboration, we expect that sharing experimental methods, data, and resources will ultimately improve the ability to compare and validate local research findings and to develop interventions and products that can have impact at a greater scale.

Application Process

Please be advised that the entire application process is online through the BIRAC portal.

  1. Proposals in the correct format will be submitted on the online portal by interested applicants
  2. The application will be seeking the following information in the project proposal:
    • Introductory information: A short description of the specific problem your proposal addresses. One or two sentences in bold the essence of your idea for a solution (1-2 sentences).
    • Proposal information: A clear hypothesis with a brief description of the work (to achieve proof of concept for your idea, including limited field testing/validation).
    • Path to impact: Next steps if you are successful in this work. How would you scale it up and/or apply it to other problems?
  • Ethical use of technology and data: Describe risks or challenges involved and potential bias that may arise from the use of an unrepresentative dataset and how will you obtain a representative dataset to train the LLM and mitigate bias. Describe the potential bias that may arise from historic disadvantage or devaluation of certain social groups or individuals in the target population, human context, and societal values affecting your use case (including assumptions about gender, race, and geography) and how you think you may be able to mitigate this bias.


  1. After an initial triage, review panels established under the Grand Challenges India partnership will evaluate the proposals submitted.
  2. Post proposal review and legal eligibility check, the applicants will be invited to present their proposals in detail to TAG.
  3. Pending financial and technical due diligence, the final awardees will be selected by the TAG.
  4. Once Due Diligence is successfully completed, award certificates will be awarded to the selected GCI applicants.
  5. PMU- BIRAC will then enter into separate funding agreements with successful GCI cost recipient(s) to govern the project terms and conditions and fund disbursement modalities.

Application instructions*

  1. Please visit the BIRAC website at and follow the link to the registration and submission portal.
  2. If you are applying to a BIRAC/GCI scheme for the first time, please note that you will have to register on the portal. The verification and activation of your new account may take up to 24 hours before you can apply for the scheme. Please take this into account while applying.
  3. The online form needs to be filled completely with all appropriate documents uploaded.
  4. Please also ensure that the Proposal Summary document is uploaded based on the format provided. Incomplete proposals will be rejected in the triage round.
  • We will not be able to provide individual feedback to applicants who are not selected for further rounds.

 Proposals are required to be submitted online only. For scheme details and submission of proposal, please log on to BIRAC website (

Announcement Date: 09-11-2023
Last Submission Date: 23-12-2023 01:00 PM

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