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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

APPLY: 2021 IFAD Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge For Innovative Researchers

The IFAD Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge aims to recognize new products, services, and best practices that can help farmers, consumers, and food companies to increase production effectiveness, competitiveness, and resilience while conserving agrobiodiversity.

In an open innovation approach, we aim to: 

  • Connect different actors who are motivated to improve global and community-based food systems.

  • Attract and support innovators to scale up their solutions through a long-term research and development collaboration with CGIAR and its partners. 

Identify innovators who could help advance research by sharing ideas and solutions. 

  • Host: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • Category: Competitions | Fellowships
  • Eligible Countries: All Countries 
  • Reward: USD 10,000
  • Deadline: September 30, 2021
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The challenge will highlight leading innovations that are helping to use, conserve, and consume agrobiodiversity in ways that are better for people and for the environment. The competition is open to individual founders, private companies, and institutions.

The Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge is being organized by The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, with the support of the Italian Government, and in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The Lexicon, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture Business Incubation Platform, CIHEAM Bari, and the Italian Institute of Technology.

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Applicants must be: individuals, private companies, or institutions responsible for an innovation with a demonstrated efficiency using novel tools, products, or services to enhance and promote sustainable food and agriculture.

  • Startups

  • International Organizations (IOs)

  • National Agriculture Research System (NARS)

  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

  • Private Companies

  • Universities

  • Individuals (e.g. farmers, processors, engineers, etc.)

We are looking for innovations that show at least a proof of concept or minimum-viable-product (MVP) of a product or service (technology, methodology, practice) that uses agrobiodiversity for the transformation and sustainability of food systems.

These applications of agrobiodiversity could include using it to support healthy and sustainable diets, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and empowerment of women and youth.


Duration and Reward

Awards will be conferred during a ceremony at the Congress. Prizes will be presented by the Director General of the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and a high-level representative of the Government of Italy.

For Applicants:

Selected winners of the Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge will receive both in cash and in-kind prizes. 

Cash prize – Two grants/free equity of USD 5,000 to each of the top two innovators based on level of excellence and innovation – (IFAD) 

Mentoring – Support in fine tuning business models and developing business plans, along with access to science and business development teams – (CGIAR/ IITA BIP) 

Partnership – Partnering with a CGIAR scientist or team to provide guidance and feedback on innovation – (CGIAR/ Alliance, IIT) 

Matching – Participating in a Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den-like pitch to IFAD country teams for opportunities to match for further product development and/or scaling (IFAD) 

Expertise – In-kind, post-award support will be provided to equip innovators with tools, technical assistance, strategic guidance, technological due-diligence, mentorship, and access to a global community of scientists and to field operations to test and scale solutions – (CGIAR/ Alliance, IIT) 

Training and Tuition – Three winning ideas (team or member) will receive two full scholarship worth USD 25,000 each, and one additional full tuition assistance for participation in the Master I Level Open Innovation & Youth Entrepreneurship course from CIHEAM Bari – (CIHEAM Bari) 

Final allocations of the awards will be announced on September 30, 2021. 

For Startups and Founders:

Visibility and recognition – Shortlisted teams will be featured on the Agrobiodiversity Congress website, reaching a global audience including international investors and organizations, as well as have the opportunity to pitch virtually to the Selection Committee. 

Networking – Teams will have the opportunity to meet and network with technical experts, international organizations, investors, private sector companies, and research institutions. 

Corporate activities – Winning teams may be invited to opportunities for additional learning or exposure associated with the Agrobiodiversity Congress and Accelerate for Impact Platform, such as participating in social media campaigns, case studies, and webinars to foster the open innovation model and sustain entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Selection Process

  • Call for ideas announced. Submissions will be accepted until September 30, 2021 

  • The 10 shortlisted contestants will be notified by email. Guidelines will be provided for shortlisted contestants to prepare descriptions and pitches to be uploaded on the Congress platform. 

  • All applicants will be invited to attend and network at the 2nd International Agrobiodiversity Congress. 

  • The 10 shortlisted contestants will be invited to take part in the Pitch Day Competition on Monday, November 15th. Contestants will be asked to make a final pitch and attend a Q&A session with the Selection Committee, investors, partners, and a global audience. 

  • The five winning innovations will be awarded a prize on November 15th. 

  • The winning innovations will also be notified by email and must respond to the notification email to accept the prize. If the Secretariat does not receive a response from winners within seven (7) days of the notification, the Secretariat reserves the right to reallocate the prize to another applicant.

The Selection Committee is chaired by the Deputy Director for Research & Innovation of Bioversity International and CIAT and four representatives of non-state actor/s from the field of research, academia, youth agriculture entrepreneurship, civil society, and/or the private sector.

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Method of Application

Applications should be submitted through the Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge webpage. Selected applications will be invited to the final stage and given a space on the Congress website. 

Applicants can only submit original works for which they are the sole inventors and copyright holders. In the case of a group of co-founders, the names and ages of all authors must be listed in the application form and will be considered as a single application. 

Selected finalists will be notified by email starting October 15, 2021. To advance to the final selection round, notified participants must accept by email.  

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Deadline: September 30, 2021

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