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Innovation Grants


What is a Innovation Grant?

Innovation grant is a unique funding that supports social innovation projects and start ups, whether they are new business models, technologies, or new ways of delivering products and services intended to create positive social, economic or environmental transformation for communities in Malawi. The Innovation grant provides financial support to help get your project off the ground. The funding is offered in partnership by Rice 360 Institute for Global Health through Polytechnic Design Studio with sponsorship from Lemelson Foundation and is inspired by our shared mission to advance sustainable solutions to Malawi's unmet needs.


To ensure that this generation of young people are equipped with the support and tools they need to address complex social and sustainability challenges, the fund was created to unlock the potential and seed the development of social innovation projects by students and community youths. Further, it is also intended to contribute to the development of a robust social innovation zone in Malawi, access to early stage financial support and accelerating the development of sustainable innovations and social innovators emerging 

Who can apply

for Innovation Grants?

Participation is open to any individual be between 18 and 35 years, an organization led by youth like social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and researchers from any academic institution in Malawi can apply.


Priority is given to all students, recent graduates and staff working on innovative projects from across Malawi's universities. Early-stage and growth-stage startup or a social enterprise working in an innovative product or idea  are encouraged to apply for the Seed Fund

Our approach to investing
Advance Sustainable Solutions

Through our grants, we support innovators at early stages of development from the basic concept or business model and establish the viability of an innovation at a small scale through testing in real world contexts. With small grants ranging from $300 to $500, we support the piloting, rigorous testing, and transition of innovations targeted to create positive social, economic or environmental transformation. 

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We provide seed capital to support the startup and field-testing of innovations.

This stage is for innovators to refine the basic concept or business model and establish the viability of an innovation at a small scale through testing in real world contexts. This stage could include initial research and development, introducing an innovation to target customers, assessing user demand and willingness to pay, or documenting social outcomes and costs of spreading the innovation.

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We support innovations that have already demonstrated success at a small scale

This stage is for innovators who require support for continued growth and for assessing the likelihood that the innovation can achieve social impact and/or market viability. The goal of this stage is to fund innovators that may require to test new business models or to make operational refinements. During this transition stage, innovation teams should propose an appropriate strategy to track and rigorously assess social impacts, cost-effectiveness, operational feasibility, and/or commercial viability if relevant.

Apply for Funding

2021 Innovation Grants Phase 1 is open for application. We are accepting applications for projects or start ups with activities running from April to June 2020. The potential grant for successful applicants ranges from $300 to $500. The deadline for receiving applications is 30 January 2021 at midnight.

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