Global Action Challenge

Investing in businesses and new technologies with significant, positive social, environmental, and governance impact.

Global Challenge Impact Fund

The Global Challenge Impact Fund invests in businesses that combine significant return on investment with significant social, environmental, and governance impacts.  That is, the Challenge Impact Fund invests in breakthrough technologies and companies that represent balanced ROI/ESG opportunities to create scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant food, health, and prosperity.

The Fund is aligned programmatically with the mission and values of Global Action Platform, the leading university-business alliance advancing food, health, and prosperity solutions.  Since the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, the Challenge Fund is also aligned with SDG1-3.

The Challenge Fund makes investments through a global competition managed by Global Action Platform.  The competition is open to innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and companies from around the world that present investible opportunities in the areas of the Challenge focus.  To date, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center has provided outside review and initial ranking of submitted proposals; final decisions on investment are made by the investors.

Finalists in the Challenge Fund competition are invited to the annual Global Action Summit—Nashville; and the recipient(s) of investments are introduced and recognized at the Global Abundance Dinner, hosted by Fareed Zakaria (CNN) on the final night of the Summit.

Early Stage Innovation Investment Funds (up to $100,000)

Early Stage Global Action Challenge offers early stage investment opportunities up to $100K for innovations and early business development for enterprises that can have a transformative impact on food, health, and prosperity.  The competitive submission is open to researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the world.  Finalists will be recognized at the Global Action Summit and investment decisions will be announced at the closing dinner of the Summit, moderated by Fareed Zakaria, CNN.

Applications for Early Stage funding is open to submission throughout the year.  Investment decisions are determined and announced quarterly.

REquest application

Growth Investment Fund

Because of a growing pool of challenge impact funds and international interest in our Global Action Challenge, new guidelines and procedures are currently under review and development for our investments of $1M and greater. We are not currently accepting new applications for the $1Million Investment Challenge Fund.

New submission procedures and timelines will be announced here.

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Selected Challenge Investment Company Updates

A key part of the mission of Global Action Platform is to invest in scalable solutions for food, health, and prosperity that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. To further that purpose, we have worked since our beginning with investors and funds to create the Global Challenge Impact Fund.The Fund investments are aligned with the mission and values of Global Action Platform and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The following summaries provide selected updates on businesses and researchers that have received investments to date.


On November 18, 2014, Treatspace received the $1 Million Global Action Challenge Award at the Global Action Summit. Treatspace, a Pittsburgh-based Health IT company developed at Carnegie Mellon University,builds lifesaving software that solves patient access and acquisition challenges by connecting primary and specialty care providers to each other andto patients. Treatspace solutions aim to facilitate the full patient journey,starting with making sure that patients find their way to referrals.  

Since winning the $1M impact investment from Global Action Platform in 2014, Treatspace has accelerated its reach to nearly a thousand primary and specialty care practices with thousands of providers.  In addition, the company has raised an additional $2.7 million and experienced triple digit annual revenue growth.

Treatspace solutions now help practices simplify patient access for nearly a million patient lives each year nationwide. By helping patients avoid missed or delayed diagnoses, Treatspace has tracked well over 100 patient lives saved as a direct result of care interventions.  

In 2018, Treatspace also launched a new product line, PracticeBeat. This patient access solution doubled the company revenue by helping practices with patient acquisition challenges faced with the maze of Google, raters, rankers, and reviewers.  

PracticeBeat ( connects patients
directly to medical practices in a seamless, integrated way with the aim of
helping patients find the care that they need. PracticeBeat patient access
solutions now schedule over 5000 patients per month and continues to accelerate. 


Treatspace is a “family” that thrives on building software that saves lives.  We work to deploy programs and software that meet current healthcare challenges, and provide a platform to increase population health significantly.  

At the core of Treatspace is a Referral Management Platform that saves lives by replacing paper based referrals with electronic records.  Treatspace facilitates“closed-loop” referral management with secure online applications to meet the needs of doctors’ offices and hospitals. We deliver predictive referral outcomes that power seamless care coordination and increased patient engagement.

Currently, sixty-seven percent of referrals sent from Primary Care to Specialty Care by means of paper referrals never get scheduled. As a result, cancers go undetected; chronic diseases get worse; time to treatment is prolonged; and as a result, thousands die unnecessarily--at a cost of billions annually.   

Treatspace reduces that number to ten to fifteen percent,saving both patient lives and money for practices and hospitals.

Product Description

Regulations and reimbursement are redefining the healthcare industry around quality. Treatspace referral networks redesign the way primary care, specialty care, and hospital-based systems collaborate with patients through true closed-loop referral management.      

Referrals from primary care to specialty practices are broken and patients suffer as a result  
There is no immediate handshake  
Patients do not always call  
Critical clinical information is missing  Insurance barriers slow down      treatment  
Consult reports get lost  

With Treatspace  
Referrals are sent securely and immediately  
Specialists reach out to every patient  
All clinical information is shared seamlessly  
Insurance efforts are automated  
The loop is closed on every referral  

Milestones Achieved Since Challenge  Investment

Treatspace has grown over 850% in physician subscribers since we received Challenge Impact Fund investment. ·        
Market growth to nearly a thousand primary and specialty care practices with thousands of providers.   ·        
Company has raised an additional $2.7 million and experienced triple digit annual revenue growth.
Team has grown from 5 people to over 15 employees.  
Support from the Global Challenge helped Treatspace launch in new regions.
The Challenge Investment helped validate Treatspace to customers, investors and national leaders. 

Next Stage Plans

Based on the success and growth from the Challenge investment, Treatspace is scaling up, both inside and outside our region.  We are also launching new product development, centered on new hospital-oriented features and functionality.  In addition, Treatspace is expanding market engagement by hiring people in sales, engineering and operations roles. 

USBiologicAdvancing ZoonoticDisease Prevention

“The health of animals, the health of people, and the viability of ecosystems are intricately linked.” –USDA

 US BIOLOGIC( is a social innovation company that works with world-renown scientists to commercialize their solutions and reduce zoonotic diseases like Ebola, Lyme disease, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Zika.  The company then works with global distribution partners to bring these products to market worldwide.According to the CDC, “scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals.” Animals and insects cause zoonotic diseases that sicken and kill millions, destabilize countries, and threaten our future.  US Biologics combines One Health and biologistics to prevent zoonotic disease.US BIOLOGIC’s “Point of Disease Prevention” platform addresses a wide range of zoonotic and other infectious diseases. TL: Ixodes Scapularis (“deer tick), the vector for Lyme disease; TR: victim of Lyme disease; BL: Mosquito, the vector for Zika; BR: victim of Zika.

Lyme Disease Prevention

In 2013, the Global Action Platform honored US BIOLOGICwith an investment from the Global Challenge Impact Fund.  US BIOLOGIC focused its initial work on Lyme disease, one of the world’s most prevalent zoonotic diseases. The company has since expanded its platform to address another growing global threat, antimicrobial resistance.US BIOLOGIC realized the significance of the innovation when they patented their unique technology proven to prevent the spread of Lyme disease.  Lyme disease has expanded into the majority of U.S. counties and is America’s largest vector-borne disease, afflicting over 300,000 citizens each year. Unfortunately, most are children.  

Milestones and Next Steps Since Challenge Investment

Antimicrobial Resistance US BIOLOGIC is now concomitantly playing another important healthcare role as the world has shifted away from the use of food chain antibiotics to eliminate the growing antimicrobial resistance and superbug challenge in poultry and livestock.  This rapid shift away from antibiotic use by Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, Wendy’s, and virtually every other major retailer has created a new challenge of how to protect poultry and livestock from disease without the use of antibiotics.In response, US BIOLOGIC and the USDA entered into a strategic joint development program combining the USDA’s proven vaccines and therapeutics with US BIOLOGIC’s oral delivery platform.  US BIOLOGIC’s novel solution is to deliver the vaccine in the drinking water supplied to the poultry. Starting with a focus on coccidiosis, the results to date have been two new USDA Small Business Innovation Research grants, two successful field trials with the USDA, an expanded large poultry trial in partnership with industry,new patents, and the expanded opportunity to address other diseases in poultry and livestock.  US BIOLOGIC also controls the resulting intellectual property and patents. 


Because of the need to proactively identify and treat “disease hot zones”, US BIOLOGIC has also partnered with the White House Office of Science and Technology, the USDA, the state of Connecticut, and other strategic organizations, who together are creating an integrated earth/satellite data network to identify and treat deadly disease hot spots before outbreaks strike.  US BIOLOGIC was recently invited to share these integrated “open data” innovation plans at the White House Open Data Innovation Summit.

Fast Cycle, Low Cost, Oral Vaccine Production

US BIOLOGIC also has developed and patented a platform of unique production and product delivery technologies.  These applications encompass the overall process as all vaccines and therapeutics eventually undergo specific production, distribution, and administration steps.US BIOLOGIC’s technology significantly reduces traditional vaccine constraints like production time,shelf life, cold chain, application, and cost.US BIOLOGIC’s ability to cost-efficiently create high-throughput oral vaccines is exactly what today’s food producers require.  It is also the type of production innovation that quality organizations like the Gates Foundation can utilize to complement their goal of cost-efficient global disease prevention.  

and the Global Action Platform are looking forward together to changing the way we address some of the biggest healthcare challenges of our day and truly deliver disease prevention.

Spiras Health


Only a few people with Asthma and COPD access clinical services that are proven to work. As a result, as many as half of these patients are unable to control their symptoms, leading to unnecessary suffering and expense.  Spiras Health solves this problem. Through scalable, proactive, patient-facing clinical services, entire populations with chronic respiratory disease can finally breathe better. Learn how we make it simple and convenient as your partner in asthma and COPD health.

Milestones and Next Steps

Since receiving Challenge Impact Fund investments announced at the Global Action Summit, Spiras has achieved the following milestones and launched the following next steps:-        
Graduated from the Jumpstart Foundry healthcare incubator program-         
Began negotiations with first payor-         
Initial clinical protocols finalized by careteam-         
Signed final contract with MissionPoint for the Greater Indianapolis/Evansville market-         
Began data exchange & contract discussions with second payor-         
Began providing services to patients in the Indianapolis/Evansville market 

Clarus Health


Claras delivers after hours call management for medical
practices, providing immediate notification of all urgent patient calls in simple, familiar email-style inbox.  The system allows doctors to hear patients in their own words, respond without exposing private cell phone numbers, dictate call notes directly into the app through a 100% HIPPA compliant application.

Milestones and Next Steps

As a result of Challenge Impact Fund investments, Clarus has achieved the following milestones and is poised for these next steps: -         
Rolling Hills Ventures led Clarus’ Series A investment round with new investments of $1,000,000-         
Number of providers served grew to 69-         
Number of total practices served increased to 16-         
Signed its four largest accounts to-date, accounting for 154 new providers using the platform


Keyupdates include—

Brief description of the business:

QueueDr is a unified patient access tool that gets patients care sooner while improving physician utilization and staff productivity. QueueDr has partnered with the top healthcare IT companies to bring healthcare systems a fully integrated and fully automated solution that requires no staff work to run. Thousands of providers currently use QueueDr to get patients the care they need over one month earlier while improving physician utilization 10%!

Capital raised to date: raised $1.6mm in funding from top venture capital firms in healthcare including LaunchPad Digital Health, Altitude Ventures, and 500 Startups. Since QueueDr's last funding raise, QueueDr has grown monthly recurring revenue 7x.


UT MD Anderson Sarcoma Investment Award

Lung metastasis constitutes the main cause of death in osteosarcoma (OS) patients. Survival has not improved in the past ten years. We used aerosol Gemcitabine (GCB) as a novel delivery approach to target directly the lungs and demonstrated significant therapeutic efficacy against OS lung metastases. There was however, a subset of cells that failed to respond to GCB treatment resulting in persistent small isolated lung metastases. We demonstrated that autophagy, a catabolic process involved in cellular homeostasis and, in cancer cells response to treatment, to play a role in O Sresponse to GCB and that, similar to other cancers, autophagy serves a dual role in OS: cytoprotective or cytotoxic. Sensitivity of LM7 OS cells to GCB was greatly enhanced after autophagy inhibition by the pharmacologic inhibitor hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and shRNA targeting Beclin 1, suggesting autophagy asa pro-survival mechanism in these OS cells. However, inhibition of autophagy inCCH-OS-D OS cells decreased cell sensitivity to GCB, suggesting that GCB-induced autophagy contributed in this case, to cell death. At the present time, there is no predictive marker as to whether autophagy will promote cell survival or cell death in response to chemotherapy. Better understanding of the molecular pathways that govern the process of autophagy will allow identification of new strategies to enhance chemotherapeutic efficacy. Our preliminary work showed that the induction - increased vs. decreased -phosphorylation of Heat Shock protein 27 (pHsp27) correlated to whether autophagy serves as a protective mechanism for the tumor cell (LM7) or is part of the death pathway (CCH-OS-D). We seek to understand the interplay between autophagy and pHsp27 in OS following chemotherapy, specifically aerosol GCB. We hypothesize that the induction of pHsp27 by chemotherapy indicates that autophagy is inhibiting drug-induced cell death suggesting pHsp27 as a potential biomarker to predict whether GCB-induced autophagy will lead to increase or decrease OS cells sensitivity to the drug. The main objectives of the project will be to 1) determine the in vivo effect of blocking autophagy by means of Beclin1 down regulation or pharmacological inhibition using HCQ onaerosol GCB therapeutic response; and 2) determine the in vivo effect of Hsp27inhibition by means of shRNA or siRNA in OS sensitivity to GCB and assess the role of autophagy in this setting. We will use our human LM7 and CCH-OS-D OSmouse models to accomplish the 2 objectives. Understanding the molecular pathways and characteristics that determine how autophagy contributes to drug-induced resistance or response, and which agents rely on autophagy foreffectiveness will allow translational studies incorporating autophagyinhibitors or autophagy stimulators into specific treatment regimens using either chemotherapy, pathway specific blocking agents or immunotherapy.  Nancy Gordon M.D.Assistant ProfessorPediatrics-ResearchThe Children's Cancer Hospital UT MD Anderson Cancer CenterNgordon@mdanderson.orgRE: Sarcoma Award  

Emory Winship Cancer Institute Challenge Investment Award for Tetrameric acetyltransferase  

Leukemogenic tyrosine kinases (LTKs) such as BCR-ABL, FGFR1,FLT3-ITD, and JAK2 are constitutively activated and frequently implicated in pathogenesis of human leukemias. However, such tyrosine kinase inhibitors arenot curative and clinical resistance develops in a substantial number ofpatients. Thus, it is critical to develop alternative strategies in anti-leukemia therapy. The Warburg effect describes that cancer cells take upmore glucose than normal tissue but favor aerobic glycolysis than oxidativephosphorylation (OXPHOS), which is also true in human leukemia. Mitochondrialacetyl-CoA acetyltransferase 1 (ACAT1) regulates pyruvate dehydrogenase complex(PDC) and contributes to the Warburg effect. We found ACAT1 is commonly upregulated in diverse leukemia patients, leading to inhibition of PDC flux,and providing a metabolic advantage for leukemogenesis and disease progression.Further mechanistic studies revealed that ACAT1 is commonly activated inleukemia cells by LTKs through phosphorylation at Y407, which stabilizes ACA T1tetramers and promote the Warburg effect, cell proliferation and tumor growth.We also identified a novel ACAT1 small molecule inhibitor, Arecolinehydrobromide (AH), which effectively inhibits leukemia cells proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, AH only binds to and disrupts active ACAT1 tetramers, and the resultant AH-bound ACAT1 monomers cannot re-form tetramers. Indeed, our study revealed that AH treatment effectively inhibits ACAT1 bydisrupting ACAT1 tetramers and decreasing Y407 phosphorylation in human primary leukemia cells from patients.

In summary, we propose an important role forACAT1 in regulation of the Warburg effect by inhibiting mitochondrial PDC,which promotes leukemia cell proliferation and disease development. Therefore,ACAT1 is a promising anti-leukemia target.RuitingLinPh.D., Postdoctoral Fellow,Hematology and Medical Oncology,Emory Winship Cancer 


Global Action Projects

Global Action Platform engages the world’s top experts and leaders and then applies these ideas in Urban & Rural Living Laboratories, investments, strategic partnerships, and joint ventures.