Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP) is a venture-focused Research for Development space designed to bridge science and entrepreneurship. A4IP co-designs and scales agriculture and climate change science-based breakthrough technologies while making sure that solutions are accessible to all. The importance of scientific innovation to respond to challenges related to agriculture, food and nutritional security, climate change, health, biodiversity loss, and deforestation has never been clearer and will only become more pressing in the coming years. In tandem, there is increasing interest in research solutions and several venture and corporate actors are working to align their business models to contribute to solving these complex problems.
A4IP co-designs and scales agriculture and climate change science-based breakthrough technologies while making sure that solutions are accessible to all
Since 2015, there has been a domino effect of leading global food companies establishing venture funds and startup incubator programs, reflecting the shift away from traditional Research and Development models. In 2020 alone, Agri-Food Tech startups raised $26.1 billion, amounting to a 15.5% year-over-year increase. With its strong reputation and legacy of scientific credibility and outputs, CGIAR is well-placed to capitalize on this trend. Existing technologies could be rapidly brought to market through different market mechanisms and CGIAR can further leverage its assets by identifying specific market demands and running co-designed research programs in collaboration with entrepreneurial venture builder teams. The Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP) plays this role, serving as an incubator and accelerator, placing CGIAR research outputs in the market more systematically while generating both impact and resources to support continued research and innovations.
A4IP is a venture space that leverages ideas and talents to create high-impact, science-based technologies, solutions and enterprises to transform food, land and water systems globally. The platform bridges gaps in technical knowledge through partnerships, commercial know-how, and human networks to create and/or support high-impact, science-based technologies, solutions, and enterprises.
The program is structured around two main pillars: 1) Leveraging existing knowledge products and services – A4IP partners with domain-focused accelerator-venture capital funds to identify pathways to accelerate the scouting and scaling of dormant know-how to create value to take to market through clear acceleration and an Investor Readiness Program that will help teams of scientists to make their products market viable; and 2) Co-designing and launching transformative innovations (market-driven approach) through a venture-building program that creates joint investor-scientist teams and harnesses their scientific creativity, technological ingenuity, and entrepreneurship to create new science-driven breakthrough companies.
The A4IP platform bridges gaps in technical knowledge through partnerships, commercial know-how, and human networks
Based on an Open Innovation approach, A4IP is offering science-based startups the opportunity to connect with CGIAR scientists to validate and scale their solutions. A4IP is systematically scouting and exploring collaborations with agri- and food tech startups to establish mutually beneficial partnerships and to advance our research and deliver greater impact. By giving a voice to founders of exciting and promising solutions, it has created a space for scientists to gain more exposure to the innovation ecosystem.
One ongoing collaboration is with GoMicro, a phone-based AI solution. The app can be used for detection of pests, leaf disease and mineral deficiency, species identification, and food quality. The implications for smallholder farmers can be significant, particularly in the context of limited access to agronomy services. The democratization of building and deploying AI apps will pave the way to knowledge and skill-sharing at an unprecedented level. It will also enable experts and organizations to collect high-quality data – which is currently a major bottleneck for building high-accuracy AI applications.
Innovations in the form of start-ups are not only critical to address complex challenges but are also often expected to contribute to the revitalization of national and regional economies, creating employment and spurring growth.
Header image: A maize farmer in Kisumu, Kenya, who has signed up to receive text messages from the CIAT-led Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS). The messages provide vital information on crop management, including planting times and fertiliser application. Photo by N. Palmer/CIAT