AI4PEP CALL FOR IDEAS
AI4PEP invites the Global South research community to submit proposals to deepen the understanding of how responsible AI solutions can improve public health preparedness and response.
Deadline for Registrations: December 31, 2022 11:59PM (EST)
Overview of the Call for Proposals Process
The call for proposals will only be open to researchers from the regions and countries indicated above (see Eligible Regions and Countries Section). We will use a 2-phased approach: inception and exploration phase. This approach has been chosen, since we anticipate that some partners may take longer to deliver the expected outputs and/or will require more support than other partners. Therefore, the second part of the funding will be used to specifically support these partners.
During the Inception Phase (April 2023 – March 2026), selected research teams will coherently combine different theoretical tools, advancing the responsible development and deployment of AI-based tools within the One Health framework in order to build epidemic and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. During this phase, research teams will have an opportunity to determine if their idea warrants additional in-depth investigation, make changes to their activities, identify and bring in new partners to strengthen their impact, and solidify the relationships needed to make the scaling of their innovations a success.
In Phase 2 (April 2026 – March 2028), some or all of the research teams will receive additional funding to expand and/or scale their ideas and solutions, as well as to disseminate findings and inspire the next generation of leaders in the use of AI for pandemic and epidemic preparedness and response.
We will be soliciting proposals only for Phase 1. All proposals will need to meet country-specific clearance requirements to advance. We will take into account regional balance whenever possible (to avoid funding all the strongest proposals coming from one or two countries).
We will use a three-stage process to select the most promising proposal.
Criteria for Selection
Our international review panel will use the following criteria to assess the submissions.
Researchers and partners must clearly articulate the proposed research questions to be addressed through sustained, deep collaboration within an interdisciplinary research team. They should provide a brief background on the data challenge being addressed; the rationale for the proposed project, including details on the anticipated outcomes of the proposed solution; detailed overview of the proposed project, including activities and expected outputs; a detailed overview of the communities and geographic regions engaged if applicable; project timeline and expected key milestones; assessment of the possible risks or barriers to success, and planned mitigation strategies etc. They must describe the current state of knowledge of the proposed topic areas (chosen from one of the themes below) that they wish to advance, including any necessary conceptual frameworks and/or methodologies. We expect a clear articulation of how the proposed project will advance current research being undertaken globally on pandemic and epidemic preparedness. Proposals should address how such an effort is distinct from existing national and international research networks that are exploring similar research questions. Researchers are required to explain how the project is interdisciplinary and rooted in a gender-sensitive approach and how an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder collaboration will produce unique and important progress towards pandemic and epidemic preparedness.
Capacity Building and Knowledge Mobilization (Kmb)
A key aspect of our proposed network is a Knowledge Translation plan that creates pathways to societal impact as well as capacity building for the use of AI in addressing public health-related issues in the global south. Researchers should identify potential areas or issues their project may impact that can inform the development of the project’s Knowledge Mobilization plan, which will engage non-academic stakeholders from industry, the public sector, policymakers or civil society. A new generation of world-class researchers and practitioners in the area of AI for public health are in high demand by academic, industrial and government organizations. As noted in the 2014 Public Health Agency of Canada workshop report Economic Evaluation in Immunization Decision Making “The challenge for assessment in Canada will be the required support and training for analysts and reviewers of these models to promote a greater understanding of when traditional methods are inappropriate.” Projects should demonstrate how they plan to build capacity for the use of AI for public health.
Excellence of Research Team
Potential team members should include researchers who are recognized to be among the best in their fields globally. Proposals will be expected to demonstrate the scholarly excellence of proposed team members and make clear how the team reflects the necessary interdisciplinarity required to address the research questions or challenges. Proponents should include a plan to promote diversity of membership within the research team.
Each team is expected to describe the potential leadership in the NOI stage. Team leaders should not only be selected for their excellence in research, but also for their disruptive thinking and deep collaboration across disciplines and national borders, and their commitment to impact.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion& Decolonization Lens
Efforts to improve equity, diversity Inclusion & Decolonization (EDID) in research teams help the teams to attract and retain the best researchers, enable researchers to reach their full potential, and support research outcomes that are more relevant and strong. We expect to see EDID principles in the team’s composition and research design.
Alignment with IDRC AI4H Objectives
Proposals will be expected to clearly describe how the project aligns with DRC AI4H Objectives.
Required & Eligible Organizations
There is no maximum number of participating organizations per application. The participating organizations for a project must include a “recognized” public university and must be in Africa, Asia, LAC and MENA.
Budget & Allowable Expenses
In total, each team can apply for up to $362500 (Direct cost 320,796 (+13% indirect cost (41,704))). We anticipate sponsoring at most 16 research teams across Africa (4 teams), Asia (4 teams), Latin America and the Caribbean (4 teams), and the Middle East and North Africa (4 teams) in this initial phase. Each team is expected to request funds sufficient to complete the goals and activities outlined in the proposal. Proponents will be expected to provide a detailed budget justification.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is an eligible Principal Investigator (PI)?
Before you begin to develop a proposal, it is important to be sure you are eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator.
Anyone holding the following positions may be designated as the PI:
- All tenured and tenure-track Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors and Librarians
- All Research Assistant Professors, Research Associate Professors, Research Professors, Extension Specialists, Clinical Professors, and Senior Research Fellows
- All Adjunct, Visiting, Emeritus, Lecturers or other faculty who have the approval of their Department and the approval of the Dean of the relevant Faculty. PIs in this category should either include a Co-PI from appointment types described in 1 and 2 above; or provide a signed memo where the Chair and Dean shall accept full fiscal and administrative liability and responsibility for the actions of the Principal Investigator included in this category.
- All Post-Doctoral Fellows who have the approval of their Department and the approval of the Dean of the relevant School or College. The Post-Doctoral Fellow’s mentor must be included as a Co-PI.
- All Professional Staff who are not also students with the approval of their Department and the approval of the Dean of the relevant Faculty, or Vice-Chancellor.
In cases where the PI is affiliated with a Non-Profit Organization, the application will be reviewed on a case-by-case consideration, including an assessment of the organization’s track record, & additional documents may be required.
Who is eligible to be a Co-Principal Investigator?
Any researcher from the targeted countries who is eligible to be a PI is also eligible to be a Co-PI. Researchers from non-targeted countries can only serve as co-applicants.
Can the PI be from a non-target region?
Can a student apply as a PI?
No. Students may designate their mentor/advisor as the PI.
Are independent or unaffiliated researchers eligible?
To be eligible, researchers should be affiliated with a university and public research institutes.
Can teams mix researchers from eligible and ineligible countries and regions?
Yes, provided that other conditions are met.
What is the status of eligibility of other entities such as consultancy firms and health tech companies?
In the spirit of taking a decolonial approach towards the whole process, the project has no intention to prematurely disqualify potentially great ideas/ proposals. However, it strives by all costs to minimize financial risks. Partners are encouraged to go through the registration process for as long as they come from a legitimate entity. However, further documents may be requested during the review process, and they may further be partnered with other teams within the same region.
In cases where an existing community-oriented project is seeking an opportunity for development. Would such an opportunity be deemed eligible for funding.
Yes! The program is more than happy to support an existing project and propel it to greater heights for as long as it aligns with the scope of the call.
How do we ascertain eligibility in instances where the region is considered eligible, and yet the country is not listed on the list of target countries? For example, while most African countries have been deemed eligible, Cabo Verde was not on the initial list. What is the status.
- Generally, the project is open to Lower to Middle-Income countries. Where there is ambiguity, the best thing is to seek clarity from the project staff (see contact details at the bottom, of the page).
What kind of projects can be funded?
We will consider any project based on at least SDG3 (“Good Health and Well-being”) and SDG5 (“Gender Equality”). The research should be aimed at enhancing early detection, warning, and response to infectious diseases with AI being the entry point.
Is it acceptable for a PI to submit two proposals? Is it acceptable for a researcher to be named in two different proposals?
No, it is not acceptable for someone to submit two proposals as a PI. One can, however, be a PI in one application and a co-applicant in another. With that said, a researcher may be named in two applications, but not as a PI.
Costs: Direct & In-Direct Costs
What counts as Direct and Indirect costs?
Direct costs are those that can be specifically and easily identified with the project or activity and are allowable under IDRC’s and York University’s guidelines. Indirect costs, are those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives, and cannot be easily and specifically identified with a particular sponsored project. These costs are also sometimes called “facilities and administrative costs (F&A)” or “overhead.”
University indirect costs include building and equipment depreciation and use allowance; general administration; departmental, sponsored program, and sponsored project administration expenses; interest; operation and maintenance expenses; library expenses; and student administration and services expense. We will pay the university for indirect costs (up to 13%).
Constitution of Research Team
What is the Maximum number of members/ experts that a research team may have?
Anticipated members of the program should be identified in the proposal: up to four in the registration stage; eight members in the NOI stage and up to 15 members in the full proposal, inclusive of the potential Director (PI).
The proposal mentions supporting proposals that seek to use ethical AI to strengthen health policy outcomes. At what levels should these policies be; micro, meso, and micro level?
The project is open to all innovative ideas. However, it lays an emphasis on the use of locally sourced, contextually relevant, and relatable data. It is further desirable that there is clarity on the research, and its public policy impact.
What does the 15th January deadline mean? A registration deadline for submission of the full proposal?
- The 15/01/2023 deadline at this point is for pitching the research ideas. The process has been made to be as accessible as possible. All you need to do is to write about your general idea and attach the CVs of the research team. Prospective partners are encouraged to review the website closely, as a lot of information has already been shared via the same platform, including the project timelines.
- Additionally, applicants are encouraged to reach out to the AI4PEP staff in cases where they are in doubt or require clarity on specifics during any stage of the process. It was also mentioned that the project will provide on-going support to applicants during the different stages of the application process. The Briefing Session was an initial form of such support, there will also be workshops to guide applicants through the next phase of the application process.
When will decisions be announced and when are funds expected to follow?
The announcement of shortlisted proposals will be on January 15, 2023.
The announcement of competition results will be on March 20, 2023.
Access & Language Requirements
What are the language expectations? Should the registration be filled in English only, or other languages such as French, Portuguese, Spanish are accepted.
In the spirit of decoloniality, the project would like to make the process as accessible as possible, hence there is deliberate language flexibility. Applicants should feel free to fill the applications in either of the above languages.
What currency should the budget follow? There are instances where US $ are the default currency in some developing countries, how should applicants approach the budget in those cases?
The funding has been allotted in CA $ as stated in the call. However, the project anticipates and appreciates the dynamics around varying currencies in different locales. Applicants are requested to convert currencies as needed and align with the CA $.
How much funding is available for this round?
Up to CAN$1,283,286 per region (up to CAN$362,500 per team).
Do the funds go to the university or directly to the teams?
Funds are administered through the university.
The proposal prompts you to nominate reviewers from your region. How do you know the names of reviewers?
The project seeks to take a decolonial approach in its processes and methodologies. You are encouraged to nominate reviewers from your region to encourage community participation in the process.
Noting that the project encourages collaboration, is it compulsory that a project collaborates with another within the same or across regions? Moreover, is it permissible to have two Co-Principal Investigators?
The project strongly encourages collaboration. However, applicants are encouraged to bring organic ideas. If they find partners with whom they are compatible, that would be acceptable. In cases where some projects could benefit from collaborating, such partnerships may be recommended in the next phase of the proposal. Yes, two Co-Principal Investigators are allowed but there should be just one principal institution.