IDRC/Sida COVID-19 Global South Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Program 2020

IDRC/Sida COVID-19 Global South Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Program 2020

Deadline: June 28, 2020

The COVID-19 Global South AI and Data Innovation initiative is open for applications from research consortia and individual organizations. The program will support projects between CA $500K to CA$1.25 million for two years (2020–2022)

The call for research proposals for funding support from the International
Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) aims to support multi-disciplinary research to deepen understanding of how to develop and scale responsible, evidence-based and proven Artificial Intelligence and data science approaches that support COVID-19 response and recovery in low and middle-income countries.

Funding will support research that uses AI and data science to strengthen governments and public systems in responding to the current pandemic and to address future epidemics. It will also support policy research that ensures the use of AI and data is responsible (inclusive, rights-based, ethical, and sustainable) and well governed. The program will also support opportunities for Southern researchers to build capacities and collaborate with researchers globally.


  • Support multi-disciplinary research on how to develop and scale responsible and evidence-based AI and data science approaches that support COVID-19 response and recovery in developing countries, and to ensure that those responses are gender responsive and are culturally appropriate, community specific and based on local needs and contexts;
  • Inform policies, both organizationally and nationally, that support and build trust in AI and data science responses to epidemics and that mitigate potential harms;
  • Strengthen the capacity of health systems in developing countries to respond to epidemics through the use of AI and data science techniques.

Thematic Areas

Research proposals must address at least one of the following thematic outcome areas:

  • Forecasting transmissions and reducing spread through policy and public health interventions;
  • Mobilizing artificial intelligence and data science to understand and support gender inclusive COVID-19 action;
  • Optimizing public health system responses for patient diagnosis, care, and management;
  • Building trust and combatting mis- and dis-information around COVID-19;
  • Strengthening data systems and information sharing about COVID-19;
  • Supporting transparent and responsible artificial intelligence, data, and digital rights governance around COVID-19 and pandemic responses.

The fund is designed for rapid research support, therefore the six thematic outcome areas are intended to be broad in scope so that research may respond to identified priorities in various contexts — they are not meant to be prescriptive in nature. Proposals should ultimately respond to the priorities, capacities, needs, and contexts of the countries of planned impact.


  • IDRC and Sida will contribute up to CAD $10 million towards this COVID-19 Global South AI and Data Innovation Program, and project funds will be disbursed and administered by IDRC on behalf of the partnership;
  • Projects should be between CAD $500,000 (for individual applicants) up to CAD $1,250,000 (for larger research consortia) for two years (2020-2022);
  • The number of supported projects will depend on the number, quality, review and ranking of eligible proposals by the review process.


  • Research consortia and individual organizations may apply, with preference in selection for those based in Low and Middle Income countries.
    • For the purposes of this call, research consortia are defined as multidisciplinary research collaborations and networks made up of multiple organizations.
    • Preference will be given to research consortia that demonstrate an ability to work across different contexts and directly with governments.
    • Please note that more than 50% of organizations in a consortium must be based in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Eligible applicants are legal entities, such as accredited universities, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, or government-funded research organizations.
  • Primary applicants must be a financially stable entity that can receive funds in a timely manner without being subject to lengthy approvals or country clearance.
  • Private sector organizations may apply, although commercial applications and innovations are not eligible for funding.
  • Consortia should identify a primary applicant institution that will receive and administer the funds because IDRC will not contract directly with additional organizations. The involvement and role(s) of consortia partners must be clearly articulated in the proposal.

All organizations must demonstrate how they can conduct research design, planning, and execution in accordance to local laws and public health guidelines, including physical distancing.


All applications must be submitted through the online application system by Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 11:59pm ETD. Proposals received after the submission deadline will not be considered.

  • The research proposal and questions are outlined in the platform;
  • As part of the application, you are required to upload CVs of the leads of the applying organization and of the partner organizations to the SurveyMonkey Apply system;

A peer review panel composed of technical experts will review and assess the proposals.

Click here to apply.

For more information, visit IDRC.