Human Potential - Prenatal / Early Childhood Grant Call 2023

About the Grant


Human capital is Singapore's most valuable resource. With persistently low birth rates, an ageing population and a declining workforce, a national priority for Singapore to optimise each individual's potential from young and throughout life. 

There are many opportunities to optimise Human Potential throughout the entire life course, but interventions' nature and relative impact are likely to differ at various stages. There are three (3) strategic focus areas in which the HP programme is centered around: 

  1. Prenatal and early childhood focusing on improving child's physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development and maternal health and well-being to optimise developmental outcomes and set the right trajectory for an individual's life course.

  2. Function and performance during peri-pubertal, adolescence and adulthood with a focus on Science of Learning (SoL) to improve learning outcomes and upskilling of workers; and

  3. Healthy and meaningful longevity detects and prevents or delays physical and cognitive decline and transforms the ageing experience.
This FY23 grant call is the 3rd under the A*STAR Human Potential Programme Office’s Early Life focus, concerning ‘Prenatal and early childhood’, within the life course from preconception, pregnancy to early childhood (-1 to 6-year-old). A large body of evidence has demonstrated that early life development is critical in realising an individual's full developmental potential. The early years are crucial for rapid brain development with the greatest plasticity and capacity for change and physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development. Interventions at this critical window of early life can most successfully safeguard and optimise life course trajectories compared with interventions in adulthood.

Thematic Areas

Young Investigator Research Category (YIRG) and Investigator Research Category (IRG)
1.     Child health, learning and well-being

  • Child nutrition, obesity and other conditions
  • Cognitive & Intellectual Development
  • Socio-Emotional Development and Mental Wellness

2.     Maternal health and well-being

  • Metabolic Health
  • Mental Wellness
Collaborative Proof-Of-Concept Category
1.     Early Childhood Development
  • Address one or more of the Early Childhood Development Authority (ECDA)’s problem statements.
2.     Child Socio-emotional development and maternal mental wellness
  • Propose a research topic in the area of child and/or maternal socio-emotional development and mental wellness.
Please refer to the FY23 PEC Briefing Information Deck and the FY23 PEC Grant Call Information Sheet for more details on the areas of interest and problem statements. 

Grant Call Quantum

Grant Call Categories Young Investigator Research Category (YIRG) Investigator Research Category (IRG)Collaborative POC Category
Grant Funding Quantum per award From $300k - $500k*From $500k - $1.5M* Up to $5M*
Funding Duration Three years Three years Up to four years
Funding Mode Reimbursement

*Funding amount inclusive of 30% indirect cost. Total funding may be subject to budget scrubbing and recommendations from the panel.

Overall Criteria

Research proposals should have clear vision towards and potential for translational impact to address important gaps in national policy and practice in health, education and social services. Grant call will prioritize applications in areas that provide evidence for innovation in policy/practice/service in early childhood development and maternal outcomes. 

Applicants are encouraged where possible to leverage existing HBMS, Social Science and SoL research capabilities in the proposals to strengthen utility and impact. Applicants are also encouraged to partner relevant public or private sectors to facilitate downstream translation or deployment (if applicable).



  1. Researchers from all Singapore-based institutions of higher learning (IHLs), public sector agencies and public hospitals are eligible to apply. Funded R&D by projects must be conducted in Singapore.

  2. Grant proposals should only be submitted by One Lead Principal Investigator (PI).

  3. The Lead PI must have a) a minimum of 0.7 FTE primary appointment in a Singapore publicly funded research or tertiary institution and be salaried by the institution; b)  a laboratory or research programme that carries out research in Singapore.

  4. For Category 1 (Young Investigator Research Grants), only young researchers (who have completed their PhD or MBBS/MD/BDS within the past 7/10 years respectively) may apply. Young Investigators under this category are strongly encouraged to work with a mentor for research guidance if they have not received external competitive funding exceeding $500,000 (direct cost only) within the past 5 years to conduct their own research project as the PI.

  5. For Category 2 (Investigator Research Grants), only mid or senior investigators can apply. Lead PI must be an independent investigator (with PI status in institution) with a demonstrated track record of research, as evidenced by the award of nationally competitive funding (international funding to be considered on a case by case basis), substantial publication record in the past 3 years. 

  6. For Category 3 (Collaborative POC Grant), lead PIs should demonstrate relevant scientific/technical background and have a good track record as an independent PI in leading and coordinating research programmes, as well as achieving productive research outcomes (e.g. award of nationally competitive funding, substantial publication record in the past 3 years). Lead PI must directly oversee a substantial portion of the research and intervention work proposed in the proposal. Proposals should be driven by a lead PI with sufficient stature and reputation, and with the commitment to pull research partners together for the proposal. Any work package should similarly be led by team PIs in order to ensure commitment to each component of research.

  7. Proposed research should not be already funded by other local or international grants or funding schemes. Research Proposals being considered for funding by other agencies will not be considered under the present call. PIs will need to declare other funding sources during the application.  

  8. Collaboration with foreign organisations and experts in the capability of a Co-investigator or a Collaborator is allowed, but no funding will be allocated to the foreign Co-investigator/Collaborator operating out of Singapore. Successful applicants are not allowed to contract out whole or part of the funded research to any Co-investigator/Collaborator whether they are local or international.

Grant Call Timeline

EventDate Remarks
Grant Call Launch21 July 2023 
For All Applicants & Interested Parties: Letter of Intent (LOI) Submission
Submission DeadlineBy 21 August 2023, 2359 hrsSubmission of completed LOI template via email to HP PO
Notification of Shortlisted ApplicantsMid September 2023 
For Shortlisted Applicants Only: Full Proposal Submission
Submission DeadlineBy 13 October 2023To be submitted via email to HP PO
Presentation to Grant Award Panel (GAP)
29 January 2024Shortlisted applicants to be available to present their proposals to the panel
Funding DecisionMarch 2024Applicants will be informed of their in-principle approval and will work with HP PO on the required processes (e.g. budget scrubbing, iGrants processes)
Letter of Award and commencement of grant
1 April 2024 

Application Procedure

Call for proposals has a two-stage process. Lead PI must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), and only shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Interested applicants will be required to submit the essential documents via an offline submission via email to the HP PO ( by 21 August 2023, 23:59 hrs. Late submissions or submissions from individual applicants without endorsement from the Host Institution will not be accepted.

The Research Administrative Office from IHLs or Research Entities are required to ensure information submitted by their researchers for the grant call are compiled according to the requirements set out. Incomplete submissions will be rejected.

The following documents are required for the LOI submission.  
No.AttachmentNaming Convention
1 Letter of Intent as per LOI ppt templateLead PI's name_LOI_Project title
2 Curriculum VitaeLead PI's name_CV_Project title
3 International Peer ReviewersLead PI's name_IPR_Project title
4 Endorsement from Host InstitutionLead PI’s name_Endorsed_Project title

Application Materials

For Enquiries

For general enquiries, please refer to “PEC23_Prenatal_Early Childhood Grant Call Information Sheet - APPENDIX 2 – Frequently Asked Questions”.

If you require further clarification, you may reach us at
Please allow up to three (3) working days for us to provide a response.