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.
7 March 2023
Lacuna Fund seeks proposals from organizations interested in developing datasets that will help us better understand the relationship between Climate & Forests and generate interventions that could mitigate the impacts of climate change; and, datasets that will improve Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health and Rights for populations in Africa.
Read a full copy of the RFPs below for more details on potential areas of funding, eligibility, and selection criteria:
Applications are accepted through the application portals here:
Climate and Forests Timeline:
- RFPs Posted Publicly on Lacuna Fund Website: 7 March 2023
- Applicant Webinar: 30 March 2023
- U.S. Eastern Time: 9-10:30 AM/ GMT: 1-2:30 PM/ Western Indonesian Time (WIB): 8-9:30 PM
- REGISTER: Webinar Registration – Zoom
- Question and Answer Deadline: 11 April 2023
- Answers Posted: 21 April 2023
- Proposals Due: 1 June 2023, End of Day, anywhere on Earth
Sexual, Reproductive and Maternal Health and Rights (SRMHR) Timeline:
- RFPs Posted Publicly on Lacuna Fund Website: 7 March 2023
- Applicant Webinar: 23 March 2023
- Question and Answer Deadline: 24 March 2023
- Answers Posted: 5 April 2023
- Round 1 Proposals due: 19 April 2023, End of Day, anywhere on Earth
- Round 2 Proposals due: 20 June 2023, End of Day, anywhere on Earth
Question and Answer Period: All questions related to these RFPs should be submitted to email@example.com with “Climate & Forests RFP 2023 Question” or “Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health and Rights RFP 2023 Question” in the subject line. Questions submitted by the above deadlines will be de-identified and answered publicly by 5 April (SRMHR) and 21 April (Climate & Forests) on the Lacuna Fund website in a document posted on this page.
Dataset Hosting and Documentation Guidance: Lacuna Fund requires grantees to host datasets on a site that assigns a Digital Object Identified (DOI) and quantifies the number of landing page views and downloads for the dataset. We also ask grantees to include a metadata file and datasheet along with the funded dataset. This guidance provides additional details for applicants to reference in preparation of their proposals.
Partnership and Mentorship Programs:
Lacuna Fund is pleased to partner with Deep Learning Indaba to offer mentorship opportunities for applicants. The Deep Learning Indaba is an organization whose mission is to Strengthen Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Africa and works towards the goal of Africans being not only observers and receivers of the ongoing advances in AI, but active shapers and owners of these technological advances.
On a one-time basis for this Lacuna Fund call, the Deep Learning Indaba will offer applicants from around the world a special opportunity to join the Deep Learning Indaba community and match those who are interested with a mentor who will review your draft proposal and discuss avenues for strengthening it. Interested parties may apply for a session with a mentor by visiting the Indaba Mentorship Programme – Deep Learning Indaba and selecting to participate “As a mentee”. When prompted, select for assistance “Writing a research proposal”. In the field “Please tell us more about your draft proposal”, please type LACUNA FUND, followed by a detailed description of your proposed dataset. Providing a detailed description will support with matching applicants to mentors that are aligned in your interest area. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply for a mentorship session after you have a detailed outline or draft proposal and at least 4 weeks before the proposal due date. We will do our best to identify a mentor for everyone who requests one, but we cannot guarantee that mentors will be available for all. Mentors will be assigned on a first come, first-served basis. All applicants are expected to read and abide by the mentorship programme’s code of ethics and conduct.
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.
Filling data gaps in the climate domain to enable communities around the world to better mitigate and adapt to climate change.