Submit proposals to receive funding up to USD 8,000 for small research projects with a development focus, which will be completed by the end of February 2021. Submission deadline: [extended to] 13th July 2020. You can find a proposal template here.

Machine Intelligence for Development

We are looking to strengthen AI research communities and the work they do during the Covid-19 pandemic, by funding research projects across Africa that are collaborative at heart and have a strong development focus. 

This Call for Proposals invites individuals, grassroots organizations, initiatives, academic, and civil society institutions to apply for funding for mini-projects. These can be new or existing projects at various stages, including projects that create and analyse new data sets around a research hypothesis, to later stage projects that require a “final push”.  A mini-project could also be early-stage research around our Grand Challenge of curing leishmaniasis. We expect to fund around 15 mini-projects ranging in value from $2,000-$8,000.

We are specifically looking to support smaller research projects or segments of larger research endeavours:

  • that are conducted in Africa;
  • that have a strong machine learning, artificial intelligence or data science component, in any discipline of science;
  • that have sustainable development goals in mind;
  • that could reach deliverable outcomes by the end of January 2021.

Supported projects will have access to additional project-specific mentorship from the Deep Learning Indaba network.

Application Process

Applications can be made through the Deep Learning Indaba’s Baobab portal. Applications will be in the form of a PDF of up to four pages, and should contain:

  • a research hypothesis and expected outcomes;
  • a brief paragraph on the long-term vision for the work and a description of the intended deliverables;
  • a brief ethical review that considers any perceived risks and the research’s effect on people and society;
  • a realistic timeline to help us with progress assessment;
  • a budget detailing the total amount requested and expenditure allocation;
  • brief profiles of the team involved, giving relevant information as to demonstrate your ability to undertake and deliver on the proposed research.

Key Dates

12 June 2020 – Call for proposals open
6 July 2020 – Proposal submission deadline
20 July 2020 – Decision notification
2 November 2020 – Mid-term check-in
26 February 2021 – Reporting of the project outcomes


As a deliverable, we ask that any generated data and findings be shared in the public domain, adhere to the FAIR Principles, and are reported as:

  • a preprint of research work submitted for publication, or
  • a technical report.

The ‘FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship‘ provide guidelines to improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reuse of digital assets, so that future researchers can leverage your research findings. We further encourage researchers to identify conferences and workshops that are relevant to the work they are undertaking, and plan to submit to these venues.

The projects will be showcased as part of the AI4D’s efforts to help address and mitigate the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa. They will be part of the growing general portfolio of AI4D funded projects.

Receiving Funds

Selected projects will be monetarily awarded from USD 2,000 to USD 8,000, funding which will be disbursed as the project progresses, based on agreed timelines.

Projects will be funded through a university or research institution or local partner charity, but where this is not possible, alternative venues will be considered.

Mentorship and Supporting Material

To help you with writing a project proposal, we provide a project proposal template specifically for this call. You are welcome to use it as a starting point!

Funding Partners

This call is being organized by Deep Learning Indaba in close collaboration with the Knowledge 4 All Foundation, AI4D, the International Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence and the UNESCO Chair in Artificial Intelligence (University College London, UK) with the generous support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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