Challenge:

How might we combat health threats like Zika, SARS, Ebola and Malaria in bold, imaginative ways?

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USAID and OpenIDEO are seeking diverse perspectives from across the world to combat Zika and future health threats.

Want to join in the challenge? 

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In today’s interconnected world, we’re more vulnerable than ever to devastating outbreaks and epidemics. Infectious diseases like the Zika virus, Ebola or SARS can take hold in a community suddenly and spread rapidly, traveling across borders before medical leaders and government officials have time to react. In 2014, Ebola killed over 10,000 people in West Africa. In 2003, the SARS outbreak caused over 8,000 people worldwide to become sick, of those, close to 800 died. Now Zika is projected to infect as many as four million people by the end of this year, possibly causing birth defects in babies born to pregnant women that become infected with the virus. As our connectedness increases, so does the velocity of the challenges we face in safeguarding our global health security.

But our connection is also a source of strength. Together, we have the power to learn from current and previous outbreaks, share our collective knowledge, and design better ways to prevent, detect, and respond to these global health threats.

As part of the Combating Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge for Development, USAID is calling on the global community to develop bold and actionable ideas to fight the Zika virus today and cutting-edge technologies and approaches that will better prepare the world to fight the global health threats of tomorrow. To support this Challenge, USAID has partnered with OpenIDEO to launch an open innovation platform that draws upon talent, inspiration and solutions from around the world to address these pressing issues. Our aim with this platform is to use the power of the crowd to inform, inspire and guide creative solutions that are deeply grounded in what communities want and need.

We’ll explore how the Zika virus impacts people and local communities and use these stories as inspiration for near-term solutions. In addition, we’ll think boldly about new and transformative ways to prevent, detect and respond to future health threats. Together we can develop innovative ways to better tackle current and future outbreaks.


Want to learn more about the Zika virus? Visit our Resources page


The Problem

The Zika virus outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). As of mid-April, Zika had spread to 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – a staggering 1.5 million people are thought to be infected in Brazil. Zika is typically transmitted by mosquitoes but can also be transmitted sexually. It may also cause serious birth defects in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant.

You don’t need to be an infectious disease expert or a health worker to contribute – in fact, it’s the diversity of perspectives and the ability to draw from novel contexts that often lead to the most innovative solutions.

Our collective thinking will not only develop new ideas that can be tested and implemented by anyone in the world, but also inform or develop ideas that may be submitted to USAID’s $30 million Combatting Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge for Development. USAID is granting awards in the range of $100,000 to $1 million to organizations with groundbreaking innovations and interventions to combat the spread of Zika today or better prepare for future outbreaks tomorrow.

Develop, share, and build on your ideas within the OpenIDEO community. This challenge is meant to crowdsource information on what global communities want and need. Use this information to help take your idea further, to foster connections, to refine your idea with the help of an organization, either on the OpenIDEO platform or through an offline connection. Organizations with great ideas and the ability to execute them can use this challenge to improve their concept before submitting them to USAID for funding. The deadline to submit your idea to USAID for funding is May 20 for Zika related innovations and June 17 for all other ideas. All ideas for funding must be submitted through the USAID platform.


Ready to get started? Join the conversation in our Ideas phase




The Challenge

Our goal is to develop solutions that tackle a number of critical issues related to preventing, detecting and responding to the spread of Zika and future health threats.

Within each phase of our challenge, we have created missions to help you dive deeper into the two topics. You will see missions called out as either “Zika Virus” or “Future Health Threats” to help you to distinguish between these two critical issues.

Research Missions

Launching May 9 and lasting until June 17, we are calling on individuals and communities around the world to share stories, insights, interviews and experiences with Zika and other infectious diseases.

  1. Zika Virus: Tell Us Your Story
  2. Zika Virus: Highlight Successes
  3. Future Health Threats: Imagine If...
  4. Future Health Threats: Learn From the Past
  5. Future Health Threats: Surprise Us


Ideas Missions

  1. Zika Virus: Personal, Household and Community Protection
  2. Zika Virus: Surveillance
  3. Zika Virus: Community Engagement
  4. Future Health Threats: Prevent
  5. Future Health Threats: Detect
  6. Future Health Threats: Respond


What we are looking for

Inspiration from your stories

Help us understand and build a global picture by sharing ideas, sparking conversation and cross pollinating.  How are you impacted by Zika and what is being done to address Zika and future threats in your community?

We encourage contributions in all forms throughout the challenge – whether inspiration, ideas, feedback, questions, or resources. Here are some of the guidelines we’ve assembled based on the needs of USAID. We will use these guidelines to encourage, elevate and highlight stories from both the Research and Ideas Phases.  


Research Phase:

We are inviting you to contribute stories, photos, videos, articles and data around the Zika outbreak and future health threats. This will help us all better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with these threats, and build empathy for the people we’re designing solutions for – from health workers to at-risk communities.


Ideas Phase:

USAID’s Combating Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge is looking for ideas that demonstrate the following attributes in one of two broad categories:

    1. Solutions that can be deployed immediately and generate improvements
    2. Big picture, systemic solutions for prevention, detection and response to emerging disease threats


Ideas submitted to USAID’s Challenge for funding will be evaluated on the following criteria:

    • Innovation, including creativity of the given approach and clear differentiation from existing approaches
    • Low-cost and appropriate for various developing country settings, particularly those lacking a consistent supply of electricity and facing frequent power outages  
    • Environmentally-friendly with minimal generation of excess waste material
    • Ability to be scaled rapidly  
    • Strong likelihood of achieving a substantial impact  


Want more ways to be involved? 




*The OpenIDEO platform is a place to collaborate, iterate and incubate your idea. Don’t forget-- when you are ready, you must submit separately to the USAID Combating Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge to be eligible for consideration for funding.






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