Priority Themes

The Grand Challenge Fund is focused on supporting research and innovation in priority thematic areas of national interest, including following. Further detail regarding research on Grand Challenges around the world can be found in HEC-GCF 2020 - History, Approach, Thematic Areas

  • Food Security, including but not limited to agricultural productivity and resilience; exploitation of agricultural value-chains; Nutrition, Maternal and Child Health(MNCH); and sustainable food eco-systems for rural and urban consumers and producers.

  • Water Management and Sustainability, including but not limited to, food, energy, water nexus, and focusing on grant challenges such as large-scale, low cost, and scalable waste water treatment systems; significant reduction in irrigation related water losses; and innovative socio-technical approaches to water conservation.

  • Sustainable Energy, including but not limited to energy efficiency, battery and storage Technologies, efficient and smart grids focusing on grand challenges such as low cost electric mobility solutions; sustainable platforms for urban, rural, and intercity mobility; smart and sustainable energy solutions for urban, rural, and remote areas; innovation mechanisms for reduction in transmission and grid losses in legacy infrastructures.

  • Sociology and Philosophy, which may include identity politics, gender, population, and work ethic focusing on grand challenges such as preservation of our intellectual heritage and material culture, developing our literary canon in the wider context of world culture; barriers to gender participation in the workforce and in national development; future of work and family; and cultural and sociological impact of CPEC.

  • Development Economics, including but not limited to, export competitiveness, skills and labor market interventions, interventions for healthy life (such as antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases) and focusing on grand challenges such as transformational innovation and enhancement of global competitiveness of Pakistani export value-chains; indigenous development of high-end textile value chains; industrial performance and productivity, competitiveness, and re-location (particularly in the context of CPEC); future of work; and the interplay between population growth and economic development.

  • Urban Planning, including but not limited to, sustainable urban design, low-cost housing, mobility, and transport and focusing on grand challenges such as planning for and preservation of urban space and life; economic, sociological, and cultural triggers for the planning and creation of second tier (and new) cities and towns; provision of quality of urban life such as issues related to transportation and congestion, waste collection and disposal, water and sanitation, healthcare and education, and law and order.

  • Climate Change and Environment, including but not limited to, climate mitigation, adaptation and disaster management and focusing on grand challenges such as metro-scale pollution reduction technologies and solution (such as  Lahore smog or Karachi's waste); enhancement of the capacity to carry out climate modelling and evidence based policy and planning; addressing and mitigation of large climate change impacts on marginal communities; climate and disaster surveillance and management systems, etc.

  • Information Technology and Telecom, including but not limited to Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing and Big Data, and education and health-related information and communication technologies and focusing on grand challenges such as exploitation of economic and technological impacts of mobile broadband and 3G/4G networks particularly for less literate and largely illiterate populations; addressing the disparities in access of of technology; development,  deployment, and exploitation of 5G networks; 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) within the Pakistani context; scalable models of education and healthcare delivery through the use of ICT.

  • Innovative Governance and Reforms, including but not limited to healthcare governance, policy and delivery; educational governance and reforms; judicial reforms; and civil services reform and focusing on grand challenges such as the use of technology in bringing transparency and responsiveness to citizen services; effective use of open data (OD) in evidence-based policy making; use of Right to Information (RTI), citizen scorecards, or similar mechanisms for holding the government to account; mechanisms for creating local capacity to provide policy advice in areas of critical national importance.