le 05/07/2022

IDRC – Hubs Managing Responsible Artificial Intelligence to Improve Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health (SRMH)

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce a Call for Proposals to select up to three institutions to establish regional hubs to manage networks in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Each hub will be managed by an institution (or consortia of institutions) based in the region and will develop a regional research network based on a competitive selection process focused on advancing sexual, reproductive and maternal health (SRMH) outcomes using responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches and solutions.

Key objectives

Through this Call, up to three hubs will be set up and managed, one each in MENA, LAC and Asia. These hubs will be managed by a regionally based organization or consortium of organizations. Each of the hubs will be tasked with establishing, managing and supporting implementation research networks in their respective region.

Setting up the network should consist of running an open call to select implementation research projects in the corresponding region working on or researching AI innovations for SRMH, with a typical approach being to select six to ten projects.

It is expected that the selected projects will represent linguistic, gender and geographic diversity across the respective region; diversity across relevant areas of application of AI to SRMH; and diversity of relevant involved stakeholders (e.g., university researchers, start-ups, ministries of health, research-oriented think-tanks, consultancies, labs or community groups).

The selected innovation research projects will receive funding and support as sub-grants for an implementation research project for a duration of at least 18 months.

The general objective of each of the three innovation research networks is to advance SRMH in MENA, LAC and Asia through implementation research promoting responsible development and deployment of AI innovations. By responsible, we are referring to AI innovations that are ethical, respect human rights, inclusive and contribute to environmental sustainability.

Specific objectives are to:

  1. Strengthen the body of multidisciplinary evidence emerging from LMIC-based researchers on how to develop and scale responsible AI innovations for improving SRMH in MENA, LAC or Asia.
  2. Build innovation research capacities in MENA, LAC or Asia to develop, deploy and scale responsible AI applications in “real world” settings to improve SRMH outcomes.
  3. Deepen understanding and informed practices to enhance gender and social inclusion and limit related biases in the design, implementation and use of AI solutions for SRMH.
  4. Influence AI and SRMH policies, practices and efforts to scale up and/or commercialize responsible AI solutions.

The primary responsibilities of the hubs include:

  • Developing and managing an open call for proposals process to select innovation research projects focused on using AI to improve SRMH outcomes;
  • Strengthening how gender equality and inclusion (GEI) and intersectional analysis are addressed in the innovation research projects, and ensure each research project team has the appropriate multidisciplinary experience required;
  • Supporting networking among selected research teams to strengthen knowledge exchange;
  • Harvesting and synthesizing outcomes related to health outcomes, innovation processes, strengthening GEI and scaling strategies;
  • Facilitating equitable engagement of women in research and leadership roles.

The exact nature of the role of the hubs is not fully determined to allow the proposing organization(s) to provide information on how they propose to add value to the regional networks to ensure that its outputs and outcomes are greater than the simple sum of individual research projects.

The hubs will also play an important role as part of a larger IDRC investment in AI for Global Health (AI4GH). This includes working with the other implementation research networks and innovation hubs in the other regions of the world. For example, we anticipate the need for hubs to collectively think about critical issues such as approaches to gender equality and inclusion, ethics and responsible scaling of AI innovations from early on the project cycle.

Eligibility criteria :

This Call for Proposals is open to select individual organizations or consortia headquartered in the respective region (MENA, LAC and Asia) with preference given for organizations in LMICs.

The following eligibility criteria also apply:

  • Have a proven record of working in relevant region (MENA, LAC or Asia) and supporting research on the design, development and scaling of AI and SRMH innovations in these contexts.
  • Internal expertise in AI, SRMH innovations and health systems strengthening from at least one partner institution or demonstrated ability to collaborate on these issues via a consortium.
  • Ability to work in English and the working languages of the region (e.g., Spanish for LAC) at a minimum. Other languages are considered an asset.
  • Ability to transfer funds to other countries within the region.

Applicants must have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and be capable of contracting in their own right and name, receiving and administering funds, and have authority to direct proposed project activities. Applicants must be able to demonstrate legal status through written documentation. Legal status will only be reviewed if and when applicants are selected following technical selection.


Closing date : August 11, 2022, at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Funding : up to CAD 1,225,000

Further information

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