The I-DAIR Project seeks to advance the UNSG’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation’s recommendations related to digital health, and targets set at the World Health Organization (WHO) on universal and quality health coverage. The pathway proposed is the co-creation with diverse stakeholders of an international platform to promote responsible and inclusive AI research and digital technology development for health inter alia by moving towards data for health as a global public good and by addressing key governance, validation, benchmarking and collaboration challenges in research on AI and digital health.

The incubation effort based at a WHO Collaborating Centre at the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies was initially convened by Fondation Botnar and is since also supported by the Geneva Science & Diplomacy Anticipator Foundation (GESDA).

The project started in September 2019 with a focus on clarifying the value-add for national and regional efforts in the context of international priorities for digital health and putting together the key policy and scientific partnerships as well as resource commitments required to establish the Collaborative. A set of pathfinder projects are also being identified through consultations, which will continue till May 2020.

Post-June 2020, these pathfinder projects will be pursued through global interdisciplinary teams and would allow the Collaborative to develop meta understandings on issues such as governance approaches for safe, secure, inclusive and effective deployment of data/AI in the area of health, benchmarks, capacitybuilding, collaboration geometries for AI/digital research for global health, and other enablers for pooling human, financing, computing and data-related resources for global health. The launch of the Collaborative is currently envisaged for the second half of 2021.

The goal of the project is to co-create a neutral trusted platform for enabling global research collaborations on digital health and AI for health, and for convening stakeholders to develop and share global public goods as well as solve problems for the inclusive, equitable and responsible deployment of data and AI for health.
The ‘how’ of I-DAIR involves federating three ideas: research & innovation in deploying digital health and AI for health (‘federated research’), use of data/AI (‘federated learning’), and economic value-creation (‘federated value’).


I-DAIR takes inspiration from UNSG’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation on digital enabling of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and targets set by the World Health Organization (WHO) on universal health care. It can be visualised as a ‘distributed CERN for digital health’.

Our long-term objective is to democratise the use of data & Artificial Intelligence to solve health problems, and promote diversity, collaboration and inclusiveness in research and development efforts. In pursuing this goal, we seek to:

  • Define and develop global public goods & other enablers for research & development of digital health solutions; an example is our project to develop a Global Research Map.

  • Achieve collaborative, distributed and responsible use of data and Artificial Intelligence whereby data and decisions on AI use stay local and there is no hoarding of digital assets for health;

  • Promote collaboration and inclusiveness in scientific research and technology development through a "hubs and spokes" architecture where researchers across domains and geographies can come together in trusted settings;

  • Build research capacity & related digital health infrastructure in Africa, Asia and Latin America;

  • Solve health and Artificial Intelligence research problems through "pathfinder projects", which also provide practice-rich feedback for governance of data and AI in health.