Acknowledging the importance of innovation in the filed of health, one of the most neglected but important aspect of human life, India's Department of Biotechnology has joined hands with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and announced a $100,000 (INR 64.3 lakh approx) award for researchers who are able to come up with some never before seen or heard innovations in health including mental health.

The initiative is a part of the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE)- India programme, which was launched in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and IKP Knowledge Park, which is jointly developed by ICICI Bank and the Telangana government. The programme published its third notice for proposals this month. The last date to apply is 31st August, 2017.

In India, mental health is still not given the same status on the health chart as compared to the health of our other organs. This is despite the fact that our brain is the engine which plays a crucial part in controlling the functioning of the rest our body parts. According to WHO data, about 7.5% of the Indian population suffers from mental health disorders. This figure is despite the fact that almost half of the mental health disorders cases go unreported in the country as there is a stigma present in the Indian society when it comes to seeing a mental healthcare professional.

The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not for profit company under the Government of India, that works towards facilitating partnerships between researchers and the industry. The initiative can be considered as one such partnership forged by BIRAC.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE)- India programme aims to encourage innovations that are capable of tackling pressing problems that the world is facing today like infectious diseases, maternal and child health, family planning, nutrition and mental health. Each winning idea gets INR 50 Lakh award from BIRAC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and INR 10 Lakh prize upon successful completion of milestones. The winners also get technical and business strategy advice, access to synergistic networks of DBT, BIRAC, BMGF, IKP and their partners, and an opportunity for Phase II funding of up to USD 1 Million.

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