The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge


The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge is an annual competition hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the HealthRoots Foundation for Global Health. We offer student teams from universities worldwide the opportunity to present their ideas for low-cost, high-impact, and scalable global health innovations.

Every year, following an open call for submissions, the top teams are invited to the San Francisco Bay Area for a one-day event in Spring to present their innovations to a panel of judges composed of potential investors, philanthropists, and angel investors, as well as the opportunity to participate in mentoring workshops, and network with peers from around the globe. These teams compete for the grand prize of $10,000 in seed funding and engage with a high-level cohort of judges and speakers who have been carefully selected based on their commitments to changing the global health landscape through philanthropy, mentorship, and development.

Past judges have included investors from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the founding CEO of Yahoo!, the Chief Strategy Officer of PATH, the President of Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Product Manager for Health at Facebook, the President and CEO of Bioness, Inc. as well as board members from the Global Health Research Foundation and the International Aids Vaccine Initiative. In participating in the Challenge, we seek to offer student teams the following:

  • Exposure and sponsorship: Aside from the grand prize to the winning team, all finalist teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to high-level judges who have committed to supporting student teams who win them over.

  • Mentorship and networking: Finalist teams have the opportunity to network, not only with their peers from around the globe, but also with top Bay Area social investors, philanthropists, and educators who have committed to mentoring student teams through a series of workshops, talks, and one-on-one networking events to be held during the competition.

  • Expert feedback: Ideas will be evaluated by top researchers and scientists in the field of global health hailing from from UC Berkeley, Stanford, other Bay Area schools, as well as technology and industry partners



Students and early-career academic professionals have direct access to grants and academic support, coupled with community engagement and on-the-ground knowhow, however sometimes lack the expertise and experience to translate their ideas into market-ready, scalable, and sustainable solutions. The Bay Area Global Health Innovation Challenge seeks to serve as a bridge between ideas that originate in academia and the global health marketplace.

In the challenge’s inaugural year, held side-by-side with the 2016 Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) conference in San Francisco, more than 85 student teams, representing 13 countries participated. Submissions covered a broad variety of subject areas, ranging from a mobile application that sought to reduce the incidence of road traffic injuries, an RFID tracking device to increase immunization rates, and a self-administered screening device to estimate risk of cervical cancer and, if necessary help users locate and receive medical care.

The winner of the 2016 challenge was comprised of a team of undergraduate students from the University of Chicago who proposed a social enterprise to propagate mealworm farms that are constructed with recycled materials in impoverished and crowded urban areas. Their innovative use for this income-generating enterprise turned the cultivated mealworms into a protein-rich flour that can be sold to local bakeries, or sold as as a fertilizer to small-scale farms.

The winner of the 2017 challenge was a recent graduate from a doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley who proposed a means for providing affordable and clean drinking water through technological and business innovations to those relying on contaminated groundwater as their main source of drinking water. As the challenge continues to evolve, we continue to seek and support projects with broad, multi-dimensional implications on human health, the environment, and the economy.

We will continue to host the event annually at Stanford and UC Berkeley, drawing upon the San Francisco Bay Area’s expertise in the innovation, social entrepreneurship, healthcare, and academic sectors. All student teams are expected to plan for their own travel and lodging should they be accepted to the challenge, and are encouraged to work with their schools to do so. In exceptional cases, funding may be available to support the travel of outstanding teams that lack the financial means to attend the event, especially those from low and middle-income countries. 


2018 Application Process

January, 2018 Application Round One: Team Registration

February, 2018 Application Round Two: Participating Team Selection

March, 2018 Application Round Three: Final Submission Deadline & Finalist Team Selection

April, 2018 Team Mentorship & Development

May, 2018 Public Pitch Event & Award Ceremony

Visit the FAQ for more information.