Global Innovation Fund – Water Data Challenge

Global Innovation Fund – Water Data Challenge

Deadline: On a rolling basis

Applications are open for the Water Innovation Engine. The Global Innovation Fund is seeking breakthroughs that cost-effectively improve smallholder farmers’ productivity, income, or resilience; or that help to optimize water use at the system, watershed, or basin level so as to enhance resilience or promote inclusive growth. The breakthroughs could involve new ways to generate, assemble, and use data; new institutional mechanisms or business models for using and disseminating data; and new ways to build capacity – for individuals, firms, social enterprises or governments.


The Global Innovation Fund invests in social innovations that aim to improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world. GIF is a unique hybrid investment fund that supports the piloting, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries. Through our investments, we support a portfolio of innovations that collectively open up opportunities and improve the lives of millions of people across the developing world.


GIF can fund pilot-stage proposals (proof of concept) up to $230,000, and test and transition (demonstration) proposals up to $1 million. They have great flexibility in financial instruments and can provide grants, debt, or equity. Typically, private sector investees would receive debt or equity finance unless they are creating a public good.


  • Applications are accepted from innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, researchers, non-profits, and government agencies.
  • Applications are encouraged from women-led organizations and organizations located in low or low-middle income countries.
  • They are interested in proposals that have a partner from a low- or low-middle income country.
  • They are interested in applications that promote gender equity.

Selection Criteria

  • Potential to scale to benefit millions of people;
  • Depth of impact;
  • Benefits for people living under $5/day or for vulnerable groups;
  • Ability to measure success and willingness to share lessons learned; and
  • Qualifications of team.


Applications are currently being accepted, and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Please submit an initial application via their main applications portal.  When filling in the form, please note “Water Data Challenge” at the top of the Application Summary field.

Stages of Application

  1. Initial Application: The first step in applying to GIF required for all applicants is to submit an Initial Application.  This includes a short online form and either a document (2-4 pages) OR a slide deck (8-12 slides e.g. in Powerpoint). Applicants are also welcome to submit a video (maximum 8 minutes) as an optional addition to the application. At this time we are only able to accept application materials in English.
  2. Information Gathering and Learning More: Applicants whose initial applicants pass the initial screen are invited to a talk with GIF staff. This a chance for us to get to know each other a bit better before deciding whether to advance to a full application. These meetings are done remotely – you can dial-in from anywhere in the world. You will spend 30-60 minutes on a conference call with several GIF investment team members.
  3. Full Application: If they think that you are potentially a good match for the fund, you will be invited to provide additional information through the submission of a Full Application. This application requires a more detailed description of your innovation and plan, team composition, and supporting research/evidence with quantitative estimates. They will also ask for detailed budgetary projections and financial plans.
  4. Due Diligence: The investment team at the fund will undertake due diligence of the innovator’s proposal at this point. This may include the following: further interviews with your team, calls with references, and input from external technical experts.
  5. Decision Panel: Applicants who satisfy our questions during the due diligence process will proceed to a Decision Panel. This panel is composed of senior leadership at the fund and external experts.
  6. Funding Agreement: Once an application has been conditionally approved by a Decision Panel, the fund will undertake financial and legal due diligence, as well as resolve any outstanding technical and social issues. As long as no compliance issues arise, we will negotiate a funding agreement with the applicant.


They accept applications on a continuous basis, with no deadlines or ’rounds’ of funding. Their review process is highly selective and rigorous, and less than 10% of applicants are invited to submit full proposals.

If you need additional assistance applying, please email [email protected] with “Water Data Challenge” in the subject line.

For more information, visit Water Data Challenge.