Berlin, Germany | 16 October 2018 - The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, (BMBF)) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announce a transformative partnership to support African investigators to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for health. The announcement was made in Berlin, Germany at the 2018 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting that aims to builds momentum for global health and development innovation and foster scientific collaboration among international groups and researchers.

“The partnership with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research represents another giant and solid step to catalyse breakthroughs from African innovators who understand best the local problems and can deliver home grown solutions for developmental and health challenges,” said Felix Dakora, The AAS’ President.

The AAS will implement the partnership through its Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) programme that promotes Africa-led innovations to help countries better achieve the SDGs by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. GC Africa is one of over 10 AAS programmes being implemented through the funding and agenda setting platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) an initiative of The AAS and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA formerly the NEPAD Agency) supported by Wellcome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID.

Successful innovations have significantly contributed to improving the health, lives and productivity of African citizens and transforming the societies they live in. Several impressive innovations funded by The AAS are tackling maternal, neonatal and child health while simple innovations, such as school feeding programmes and provision of sanitary towels in Kenya and Uganda are keeping girls in schools and transforming societies. 

The Gates Foundation President, Trevor Mundel said,“The Gates Foundation believes that African research scientists must be in the lead in developing the new tools required to tackle Africa’s greatest health challenges. We’re excited about this new partnership and its potential to deliver on that promise.”

This new The AAS, Gates and German partnership enables Grand Challenges Africa to continue the ‘Call to Action’ and fund promising innovative projects across the African continent addressing challenges. The partnership spurs innovation in health by leveraging each organisation’s unique assets to deliver a range of activities.

The AAS’ understanding of Africa’s developmental challenges along with The Academy’s capacity to develop and execute programmatic, scientific and financial management. The AAS will leverage this strength to develop a call for proposals, review applications and award and manage grants based on an independent scientific assessment and with strategic input from an executive committee comprising representatives from this partnership 

The BMBF’s strategic priorities for partnership with Africa including expanding and intensifying scientific cooperation in the thematic areas of health, societal development and innovation.

The Gates Foundation’s support of promising projects and its ability to bring together key global stakeholders (such as co-funding partners, global research communities, decision and policy makers) to establish relationships and promote the Grand Challenges agenda in a bid to solve global health and developmental challenges.

The three partners provide a broad range of opportunities including a sustainable, high-quality scientific cooperation structure that strengthens international partnership, engagement with innovators, and financial support to promising innovations.

"The United Nations has set itself the goal of sustainable development by 2030 to ensure a healthy life for all people of all ages and in every country. In order to achieve this goal as a global community, investment in education, research, innovation and international cooperation is indispensable. That is why we are strengthening research on global health. We will promote research projects in Africa and thus participate in The African Academy of Sciences “Grand Challenges Africa" programme. Only specifically and together can health care be improved, diseases treated and epidemics prevented," emphasised German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek in her opening speech on 16 October in Berlin at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting.

The partners will announce a call for proposals on maternal, neonatal and child health in due course.