Call for Proposals: Supporting access to medicines through innovative use of TRIPS flexibilities


Unitaid contributes to the global response against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing countries through time-limited investments in projects that increase access to better, more effective and more affordable health products (i.e. preventatives, medicines and diagnostics). These projects typically target market-based interventions such as price reductions, improvements in quality and supply, and the introduction of innovative products more suitable for the populations in need.

Some of the challenges that affect access to health products are related to intellectual property rights, notably patents. The patent system is designed to support innovation, and has been effective in stimulating and rewarding innovation in several of the disease areas that Unitaid works on. But while patents can incentivize innovation, they also limit competition that could stabilize supply and/or reduce prices.

Within the patent system, several mechanisms exist to overcome patent barriers, notably voluntary licensing and the use of “Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities” (such as compulsory licensing, the LDC transition period, patent oppositions and stringent patentability criteria). Both approaches can play an important role in facilitating access to medicines, and Unitaid considers them to be complementary.

Current Call for proposals and examples of specific opportunities

Under this call, Unitaid is soliciting proposals to support the use of TRIPS flexibilities in order to increase equitable access to affordable and appropriately formulated medicines.  Proposals may for example relate to:

(Pre-grant) patent oppositions

The use of (pre-grant) patent oppositions; in particular, Unitaid would be interested in proposals that aim to set up a sustainable, “self-financing” system to support the continued filing of patent oppositions.

Patent Offices

Working with patent offices in order to improve patent quality.

The creation of a “TRIPS flexibilities’ support platform”

The creation of a “TRIPS flexibilities’ support platform”; Unitaid would be interested in proposals that would provide rapid but limited support (technical, financial or both) to the use of TRIPS flexibilities in countries, in order to increase access to health products for HIV, TB, malaria and/or HCV.

IP policy support platform

The creation of an “IP policy support platform” (similar to the previous, but with a focus on the policy level).

TRIPS flexibilities

The use of one or more TRIPS flexibilities through a sustainable mechanism. 

Please note: Unitaid seeks to facilitate access to innovative products; proposals should facilitate access and should not deter innovation. Furthermore, Unitaid is aware of ongoing discussions and efforts to incentivize innovation through mechanisms such as a prize fund. While Unitaid recognizes the importance of these ideas, this is outside the scope of the current Call for proposals.

Process for proposal submission


When developing a proposal, please note the following resources:

What proposals should address

Unitaid works through market-based interventions to have global market and public health impact. Proposals should indicate what the applicant(s) intend to do and how that would result in improving access to medicines. Applicants should also clearly demonstrate how they intend to implement their idea(s), and that they have the technical and organizational capacity to implement their proposal. Proposals should make a credible case that the envisaged approach is aligned with Unitaid’s role and mandate, and that it is realistic, feasible and sustainable. Applicants also should explain why the proposed action(s) would, directly or indirectly, result in global market and public health impact, and should attempt to estimate the magnitude of that impact. Proposals will be assessed, among others, on these elements.

Demonstrated support from national governments or other actors working on IPR and access to medicines will also be important. It would be helpful if proposals indicate complementarity to, but no duplication of or conflict with, the work of the Medicines Patent Pool.

Proposals for a project in a single country are unlikely to be supported by Unitaid funding. In the exceptional case that intervening in a single country would have global impact, the proposal should clearly demonstrate this.

Applicants should be explicit about the underlying assumptions made in their proposed approach, and should highlight any major risks or other factors that may affect the delivery of results. Finally, proposals are expected to outline a lean, concrete and clear pathway to results and impact.

Important dates

26 May 2017

If you intend to submit a proposal, you are strongly encouraged to complete and send the intention to submit (ISP) form electronically to by 26 May 2017.

17 August 2017

The closing date for receipt of full proposals is 17 August 2017, at 12 noon Geneva (Central European) time. Applications received past the indicated deadline will not be considered.

Please note: A proposal is considered submitted only once you receive an e-mail message of confirmation of receipt from Unitaid.

Submission and format of proposals

Proposals, including all annexes, should be submitted electronically to

A full proposal consists of the following documents:

  • Proposal form with scanned version of signed Front page [template DOC, 130 KB]
  • Annex 1: Log frame [template XLS, 50 KB]
  • Annex 2: Timeline GANTT chart [template XLS, 113 KB]
  • Annex 3: Budget details [template XLS, 70 KB]
  • Annex 4: Organizational details and CVs of key team members [no template]
  • Annex 5: Support Letters (not mandatory) [no template]
  • Annex 6: Declaration of relevant interest  [no template]
  • Annex 7: Applicable ethics, anti-discrimination and environmental policies [no template]
  • Annex 8: Declaration regarding tobacco entities [no template]

Please note that our email system accepts messages up to 8 MB in size. For submissions exceeding this size, please consider splitting attachments in several messages.


Your proposal and potential queries receive personal attention: submitting your application at least a day before the deadline allows providing feedback on its completeness. You will receive answers to your queries at any one stage of the application review process. Please send your queries to Grant Application Manager at

Assessment and notification

After assessment of the proposals and endorsement by the Unitaid Board, all applicants will be officially notified as to whether they will be invited to develop a full grant agreement for Unitaid funding.

You will find further guidance in the Unitaid proposal process document.

Unitaid is no longer accepting applications for this call.

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