"Combining scientific creativity, technological ingenuity, and entrepreneurship for transformative solutions"
The Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP) is a venture space that builds on CGIAR’s legacy of Research and Innovation to support both incremental and transformational innovation to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges at the nexus of agriculture, environment, and health. A4IP bridges science and entrepreneurship to incubate and accelerate scientific ventures for spin-offs, such as start-ups, that directly respond to market demand and generate both impact and the resources needed to support continued research in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The A4IP aims to connect scientific products to the market and excite demand for CGIAR science. A4IP strives to play a catalytic role between research and development entrepreneurs who want to be the drivers of transformative change by developing high-impact, multi-disciplinary, science-based technologies, solutions, and enterprises that will make our food systems healthier, equitable, and sustainable.
The platform is structured around three pillars:
- Valorize dormant know-how by incubating and accelerating existing science-based innovations stuck in the precommercial or conceptual stage and connecting them with the innovation ecosystem. Promote an Open Innovation culture by facilitating productive collaborations between scientists and science-driven companies.
- Co-design and launch novel transformative innovations, and de-risk pioneer research by funding the most visionary teams and their scientific creativity to create breakthrough solutions in neglected areas of opportunity with potential to be cornerstones of the future of innovation and tomorrow's industry.
- Nurture and institutionalize an entrepreneurial mindset and market-oriented culture by creating a space for tech transfer activities including intellectual property management. Offer training, mentoring opportunities, and digital hangouts to meet and exchange ideas with other innovators while attracting the future generation of entrepreneurial scientists.
The importance of scientific innovation has never been greater as the world looks to resolve complex, interconnected, and urgent challenges related to agriculture, such as food and nutrition security, climate change, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. The persistence of the coronavirus pandemic, the hastening of climate crises, and conflicts are spotlighting and exacerbating these threats: massive forced migration, commodity shortages, and input price spikes are already rearing their heads and having the most concentrated harm on the world’s most-at-risk populations. The increasing appetite for science-driven innovations to combat these vulnerabilities is confirmed by the sentiment of investors: according to the Agfunder AgriFoodTech Investment Report, venture capital investment into agri-food technologies increased 85% in the year 2021, and funders poured a record $51.7 billion into innovative ag-tech and food-tech startups offering more profitable, accessible, efficient, safer, and greener solutions. Also, since 2015, global food companies have been establishing venture funds and startup incubator programs, reflecting the shift away from traditional Research and Development models.
The Technology Executive Committee of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change indicates that technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation will play a vital role in tackling these challenges and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (Brief #12). Research institutions will play a crucial role here to deliver the solutions needed. CGIAR is keeping up to speed in this fast-evolving environment by rethinking the business-as-usual and investigating visionary models to support the scaling and co-design of new and existing high-impact, multi-disciplinary, science-based technologies, solutions, and enterprises.
The Alliance/CGIAR is navigating the opportunities offered by the evolving funding landscape and the need to work more closely with the private sector to capitalize on the emerging opportunities and build on CGIAR’s legacy of Research and Innovation through the launch of the Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP). The overall program is made possible thanks to generous offerings of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the continued support of Alliance and CGIAR colleagues.
Mission-oriented science-based startups fill the crucial need for innovation and market disruption; which in turn drives systems transformation, spurs economic growth, creates employment, and delivers concrete solutions for rural communities, youth and women, while contributing to the SDGs in the long and short term.
The innovative technologies that A4IP supports have tremendous potential to radically transform food and agriculture systems and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Technologies that harness the power of genetics, automation and robotics, and precision agriculture through the use of big data and remote sensing arm growers with the tools to optimize productivity through improving yields and environmental health. Novel production and processing systems utilizing biologicals and renewables reduce the use of unsustainable inputs and minimize waste across the value chain. Fintech, blockchain, and other platforms harnessing artificial intelligence equip growers with the agency to access complete information and better connect to inputs, expertise, and support.
Learn more: The Initiatives
A4IP’s Innovation Challenges develop a methodology to scout science-based innovations in the pre-commercial or conceptual stage addressing sustainable agriculture and climate action and connect them with CGIAR to maximize delivery and impact.
- 2021 Agrobiodiversity Innovation Challenge : Part of the 2nd International Agrobiodiversity Congress in November 2021, receiving almost 350 submissions and involving 1050 start uppers representing 76 countries. A total of 16 awards were on offer for winning pitches, including enrollment in the CGIAR x Investor Readiness Program offered in partnership with Rockstart.
- Agritech4Morocco Innovation Challenge : Launched in Spring 2022, aimed at improving the efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability of the agriculture sector in Morocco with the support of the World Bank and IMPACT Lab, a leading domain focused accelerator. The program awards the top 20 teams with a three-day intensive bootcamp, following which finalists receive a tailored three-month acceleration program.
Collaborative Events are increasing the exposure and cross pollination of knowledge across science and venture divides
- Agri-Food Tech Innovation Forum 2021, “The Role of Venture Capital in Agricultural and Food Systems: Creating Opportunities and Scaling Up Science-Based Innovations:” Part of the 2nd International Agrobiodiversity Congress in November 2021, convening experts from Valoral Advisors, Deep Science Ventures, Food@Google, Seedstars, CiBO Technologies-Flagship Pioneering, the Italian Institute of Technology, Rockstart, Pluton Biosciences, Knorr at Unilever, USDA, IFAD, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bridge the gap for accelerating innovation and de-risking innovative research and scaling processes.
- Venture-Out Seminar Series : Innovative science-driven ventures present their scaling journey to CGIAR scientists and discuss avenues for collaboration.
- GoMicro: the power of artificial intelligence products and services to provide solutions to farmers
- A Conversation about Technological Innovation for Soil Health with STENON
Strengthening and institutionalizing innovation activities and entrepreneurial spirit at CGIAR through Ecosystem Building
- A4IP’s VentureSpace Community : a virtual innovation ecosystem for entrepreneurs, scientists, experts, investors, and beyond – this portal will provide a community for like-minded innovators to identify and collaborate with one another, increase visibility to accelerate their solutions, and even participate in programming like capacity building events and innovation challenges.
- Collaborations for capacity building with the Innovative Food Systems Solutions (IFSS) Portal :
- Orientation to Backcasting: developing Pathways-to-Impact : An introduction to the use of the IFSS portal as a self-guided acceleration program and resources to explore innovative solutions, connect with funding, learn about upcoming events and opportunities, and access resources and tools that move solutions towards uptake and impact.
A4IP has worked with / is currently partnering with:
The World Bank, GIZ, Rockstart, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CIHEAM Bari, Italian Institute of Technology, the Lexicon, IMPACT Lab, the Innovative Food Systems Solutions (IFSS) Portal, Seedstars, the Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests (MAPMDREF) of Morocco, Moonshots for Development (M4D) Working Group, GoMicro, Stenon, and more
Learn more: The Team
- Gianpiero Menza, Senior Partnerships and Innovative Finance Officer
- Claudia Zaccari, A4IP Partnerships and Communications Support
- Megan Steele, A4IP Partnerships and Communications Support
- Leonie Becher Merli, A4IP Partnerships and Communications Support