Based on the successful outcome of the exploratory phase, the Foundation elected to have a call for invited proposals. Although keeping in line with the goals set for the Call for Ideas, when inviting proposals, as recommended by the panel of experts involved in step 1, the Foundation chose to:
1. not include projects relating to the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, as this kind of projects required global synergies and funds that were not within the Foundation’s means;
2. invite the organizations that submitted the most innovative ideas (technology-wise or concept-wise) to present detailed project proposals, even for ideas whose prospects for clinical development and industrial production were less immediate.
The Foundation received 12 detailed projects that were peer-reviewed by a panel of international experts. Each project was reviewed by 3 experts who certified the absence of any conflict of interest in relation to the research projects they examined.
Given the multiple aspects addressed by the submitted projects, the need to have comparative assessment and consistency in the two-step process, all projects were examined by a primary reviewer with expertise in both the scientific and industrial aspects of vaccine development, chosen among those involved in the review of ideas submitted in Step 1. Additionally, in order to ensure rigorous, competent review two additional reviewers were assigned to assess each project and express their expert opinion both on disease targets and proposed experimental approaches.
The projects were assessed based on the following criteria:
- quality of the project presentation, critical analysis of the situation
- quality of the project proposal
- viability of the experimental approach
- relevance of expected results
- adequacy of the project plan
- competences of the applicants.
Upon completion of project selection, 5 grants were given to as many projects awarding nearly €7 million over 3 years.