Staff Innovation Challenge

                                   CALL FOR CONCEPT NOTES

               Translating Research into Societal and Economic Solutions    

In line with the university strategy of ”Creating a Future for the Knowledge Generationthe Office of Research and Development is pleased to announce the 2022 Staff Innovation Challenge, themed “Translating Research into Societal and Economic Solutions (TRiSES)


The Innovation Challenge is a competitive grant initiative by the University of Botswana (UB), with the strategic goal of encouraging and supporting highly innovative solutions to maximise the impact of the University by catalysing meaningful change to the society. The Innovation Challenge Fund will support development of a broad range of innovation projects including those in natural sciences, health sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and the arts, as well as interdisciplinary research. Projects funded through the Innovation Challenge will contribute to generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits to Batswana as well as addressing global challenges.


The objective of the fund is to facilitate innovators and researchers at UB to scale-up (i.e., validate, pilot, and demonstrate) and advance their innovative outputs (products, processes, and services) along the innovation commercialization value chain through the development and commercialization stages.


The Innovation Challenge Fund will source for innovative projects from three broad categories of innovations:

  1. Technological Innovations

These are innovations that are developed from the application of scientific or technical knowledge and principles to deliver solutions in diverse sectors such as education, health and medicine, agriculture, water and sanitation, energy, infrastructure, etc.

  1. Social Innovations

These include innovative processes, tools, market mechanisms, practices, new paradigms, and policies to enable inclusive, effective, and affordable delivery of services in education, healthcare, social services, the environment, etc.

  1. Arts and Design Innovations

These are projects that use artistic excellence and innovation in the creative fields to solve societal challenges.

NB. Projects that demonstrate realistic potential to cut across the above categories with a manageable degree of complexity within the teams are encouraged.


Proposed projects should be at any of the following stages of development within any of the three broad categories. Applicants should apply for the type of grant that best reflects the current development of their innovation. Applicants at each stage will need to have met the conditions of the earlier stage prior to applying, even if the earlier stage was accomplished with funding from a different source/funder than UB.

Stage 1: Validation of 1st generation (early stage) prototypes[1] in a laboratory environment

The prototype at this stage represents a basic model that is used to prove that a concept design works, to gain an early, real-world assessment of the technical and/or financial viability of the proposed concept. This stage validates the product functionality, checks assumptions, and flushes out potential failures to determine how well the concept will solve the identified problem in real life.

Stage 2: Late-stage prototype development, design, and validation in a simulated environment

This stage involves further design and development of prototypes to achieve full functionality and validate them in a simulated environment to advance their commercial viability and move them towards commercialization.

Stage 3: Pilot testing and demonstration of prototype in a simulated environment

These prototypes should be nearly completed designs that are ready for rigorous internal testing or with a small sample of users. This stage involves piloting and demonstration of prototypes that are fully functional and require testing in a simulated environment to refine the basic model and establish the viability of the innovation at small scale, including testing core assumptions around operational, social, and financial viability.

Stage 4: Scaling up of innovative products processes or services

This stage is a pre-commercial stage where successfully piloted products, processes or services need to be demonstrated or simulated in an operational environment. This scaling-up stage includes further development to refine, replicate innovations and address performance issues where necessary.


Project Coordinators

  • Project Coordinators/Leaders must be full-time staff members of the University of Botswana. This applies to all projects including collaborations with external parties.
  • A project Coordinator/Leader may submit only one application. Coordinators can be co-team members in other projects.

External Partners/collaborators

  • Where external collaborations are involved, the Intellectual Property policy of the university shall be followed. No financial resources will be spent on external collaborators.
  • There should be a formal institutional collaboration agreement between external parties and UB before commencement of collaborative projects.
  • External collaborators should have clear and justified technical roles in the execution of the project.
  • Collaborations should not be used as a substitute for payment of external services/facilities. Where some necessary infrastructure/service is available at a cost outside the university, this should be accommodated in the budget to the extent possible.

Non-eligible projects

This Call does not support the following types of projects:

  1. Projects that exclusively focus on basic and applied research
  2. Projects that exclusively focus on market surveys
  3. Projects that exclusively focus on policy development
  4. Projects that exclusively focus on capacity building or training



Project budgets should range from a minimum of BWP 50,000 to a maximum of BWP 500,000

A summary budget should be submitted with the Concept Note covering the broad budget categories (See Table 1).

The call recognises that lack of some necessary facilities and resources for innovative projects may hinder implementation. In recognition of this, some minor equipment purchases will be allowed in this call. The following costs can be included in the budget:

Allowable Costs

The following direct costs are allowable and should be budgeted for as needed:

  • Purchase of project supplies/consumables
  • Research Assistant Costs to facilitate the completion of project activities that are labour intensive but do not require specialist skills and can be performed under the supervision/guidance of a project team member specialist (e.g., data/sample collection, data entry, etc)
  • There is no budget provision for hired professional personnel costs. The proposed projects should have all the necessary expertise.
  • Facility/equipment rentals where such equipment is not available within the university.
  • Some minor/small equipment that is necessary for the technical implementation of the project can be supported on case-by-case basis. Equipment budget should not exceed 30% of the total budget. Equipment costs should be inclusive of shipping, installation, and other related costs.

Unallowable Costs

  • Purchase of computers and printers
  • Conference travel
  • Other unspecified costs as per budget summary guide
    1. Two-Stage Application Process

The application process is a two-stage process in which interested applicants initially submit a Concept Note for evaluation and, on invitation, submit a full proposal for evaluation.

Stage 1: The Concept Note

Review and assessment of Concept Notes will be based on the clarity and coherence of the contents, as well as the likelihood that a project based on the concept will meet the criteria for funding. The application should be brief and focus on fulfilling the eligibility criteria of the applicant, demonstrating innovativeness and impact of the proposed solution, as well as the potential for replication and scaling of the solution in the market. Concept Notes must be drafted in the format described in Annex 1.

Stage 2: The Full Proposal

Applicants who met the criteria set for the Concept Note and with the highest scoring Concept Notes will be invited to submit a detailed Full Proposal. Full Proposals must be drafted in the format that will be shared with the invited applicants.

    1. Indicative Timeline





Announcement of Call for Concept Notes

21st March 2022


Submission of Concept Notes

22nd April 2022


Notification of Results of Concept Note evaluation

Week of 30th May 2022


Invitation to submit Full Proposals

Week of 30th May 2022


Deadline for submission of Full Proposals

15th July 2022


Notification of results of Full Proposal

Week of 5th August 2022


Grant Agreement/Contract negotiations

Week of 12th September 2022


Official Award Ceremony

Week of 21st October 2022

    1. Submission of Applications

This funding call and all application documents will be posted online at

  1. Applications under this Call for Concept Notes are accepted at any point during the Call period up to the deadline of 22nd April 2022 at 11:59pm.
  2. The Concept Note should follow the prescribed formatting as provided in the Concept Note Application Form (ANNEX 1).
  3. To be considered for funding, the completed Concept Note Application Form must be submitted through the online portal at
  4. All the attachments that need to be uploaded with the application must also be uploaded on the online portal. Email or any other submission mode will not be accepted!
  5. Applications submitted after the deadline will NOT be accepted.

Only the Project Coordinator can submit a proposal. No submission should be made on-behalf!

  1. Concept Notes will be pre-screened to check for completeness and compliance with the Call objectives and eligibility criteria.
  2. Concept Notes will be assessed based on the degree to which they demonstrate the following:

           2.1) Innovativeness

           2.2) Evidence of impact

           2.2) Potential for scaling-up.

  1. The Concept Notes will be evaluated by a panel of independent evaluators.
  2. Only Concept Notes scoring more than 50% of the total available points are shortlisted.
  3. Only Successful Concept notes will be invited to submit a Full Project Proposal.

For specific enquires with this call, please contact the following Officers:

Dr. K.K. Nthoiwa – – 2061

Mr. O. Bolobilwe – – 4700

Online submission – - 2016

[1] Prototype is used for testing a product to determine if it can actually be built and to further ascertain if there are any operating issues in the design. It is not exclusive to engineering designs.

In pursuit of academic excellence