Lacuna Fund provides data scientists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs with the resources they need to either produce new training and evaluation datasets to address an underserved population or problem, augment existing datasets to be more representative, or update old datasets to be more sustainable. All datasets produced will be locally developed and owned, and they will be openly accessible to the international community while adhering to best practices regarding ethics and privacy.
You can review a copy of Request for Proposal (RFP) questions, including the prompt for the narrative portion of the proposal, under each RFP. When an RFP is open, proposals are accepted through the application portal.
Lacuna Fund aims to fund organizations working at the intersection of AI and social impact to provide them with the resources they need to address urgent problems in their local communities. We aim to cultivate capacity and support emerging organizations as well as experienced researchers in the field.
To be eligible for funding, organizations must:
- Be either a non-profit entity, research institution, for-profit social enterprise, or a team of such organizations. Individuals must apply through an institutional sponsor. Partnerships are strongly encouraged, but only the lead applicant will receive funds.
- Have a mission supporting societal good, broadly defined.
- Be headquartered in or have a substantial partnership in the country or region where data will be collected.
- Have all necessary national or other approvals to conduct the proposed research. The approval process may be conducted in parallel with the grant application, if necessary. Approval costs, if any, are the responsibility of the applicant.
- Have the technical capacity – or the ability to build this capacity through a partnership described in the proposal – to conduct dataset labeling, creation, aggregation, expansion, and/or maintenance, including the ability to apply best practice and established standards in the specific domain (e.g. climate and forests; sexual, reproductive, and maternal health and rights) to allow high quality AI/ML analytics to be performed by multiple entities.
Please note that for the Climate & Forests RFP, non-profit entities or research institutions are more likely to be selected, and lead applicants must be headquartered in or have a substantial partnership in Africa, Latin America, or South or Southeast Asia in nations that are on the BMZ Country List. Proposals originating from FAIR Forward partner countries (Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, India, and Indonesia) are of particular interest. Special conditions apply for UN organizations. We welcome UN country offices to share this opportunity with partners and encourage them to apply. If a UN country office is best positioned to apply as the lead institution or part of a team, please contact Lacuna Fund Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
For the SRMHR RFP, lead applicants must be headquartered in or have a substantial partnership in Africa.
Lacuna Fund uses an open solicitation process, conducting requests for proposals (RFPs) for projects aligned with Fund goals in a particular domain on a fixed timeframe. In other words, we are not accepting proposals for every domain at all times, but when we are, solicitations are open to any applicant who meets the eligibility criteria.
Initial screen: RFPs are generally open for 45 days or more. Proposals are submitted through an online portal. After the conclusion of an RFP, the Secretariat and partners perform an initial screen for qualifications and eligibility criteria.
Panel review: Following the initial screen, a Technical Advisory Panel of domain experts review proposals based on selection criteria, then meet to make selections. Technical Advisory Panel members who review proposals for an RFP are not eligible to submit or collaborate on proposals for that call.
Notification and revisions: After the Technical Advisory Panel meets, the Secretariat will finalize selections or communicate any needed revisions to potential recipients. All communication and revisions will be finalized through the applicant portal.
Post-award confirmation: Upon notification of selection, recipients will be prompted to submit due diligence and financial information through the applicant portal.
Potential grantees should not begin work until a contract has been signed. More details on expectations and support after a grantee begins work are available through the portal for current grantees.
The Climate & Forests call is made possible with generous support from GIZ’s FAIR Forward Programme on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Teams selected for funding will be required to follow specific record keeping, reporting, and procurement terms. For example, teams will be required to obtain at least three offers for comparison for subcontractors or consultants for awards between EUR 1,000 and 200,000 and conduct a public tender for contracts over EUR 200,000. Detailed guidance will be provided to finalists.
The Steering Committee of Lacuna Fund: Our Voice on Data has identified the following areas as domains where a lack of labeled training data limits the potential of machine learning or presents the risk of bias or inequity.
Enabling new and more robust AI applications through remote sensing and other critical datasets.
Translation, speech recognition, and other datasets to enable the promise of digital communication for all.
Improving the robustness and availability of AI solutions in healthcare through datasets across the value chain.