RTB Innovation Catalog successfully launched by CGIAR, users, and donors

The RTB Innovation Catalog gathers creative ideas so that researchers and the development community can build on them. The Catalog is “A one-stop-shop for communicating and managing innovations within the CGIAR and beyond,” according to Dagmar Wittine of GIZ. The online launch of the Innovation Catalog on Friday 26 November 2021 brought together 50 participants from CGIAR, donors, and scaling partners. Paolo Sarfatti, who leads the Innovation Catalog, explained that it has data on 100 innovations from 56 countries, including the RTB Golden Eggs.

Snapshot of some of the participants at the launch.

Partnering for faster innovation

Innovations only go to scale if they are nurtured by partnerships with many stakeholders, explained Juan Lucas Restrepo, the CGIAR Director for Partnerships and Advocacy, as he opened the webinar. The Catalog provides access to innovations, so partners can share risks, cooperate on innovations and achieve impact. Juan Lucas emphasized that scaling through partnerships should become a “healthy obsession,” and that documenting innovations and their scaling readiness is a good start for a more inclusive and impact-oriented CGIAR.

Tracking innovation for efficient decision-making and communication

GIZ understands the need for more structured ways of innovation tracking, according to Dagmar Wittine. Tracking helps to (i) see the returns on investment, (ii) create awareness about innovations, so they are not left on the shelf and (iii) scale innovation through partnerships. She added that an online catalog can showcase results, encourage continued funding of promising innovations, and manage knowledge while prioritizing needs and allocating resources.

Documentation advances innovation

Elisabetta Gotor, of the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, explained that documentation ensures continuity. An accessible, digital record of who is doing what and where allows partnerships to create ideas, and take a long-term view of how an innovation matures over the life of different projects and initiatives.

Partners want better access to science-based innovations

Grace Babirye of VEDCO, a CGIAR partner in Uganda, stressed that NGOs bridge the gap between research and impact through capacity development and scaling of innovations. Grace added that NGOs and other CGIAR-partners can advocate for science-based innovation in their networks of farmers and policymakers, but only if they have access to those innovations.

The CGIAR innovation gold-mine

Gianpiero Menza, a private-sector engagement coordinator working with the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, explained how the innovation ecosystem is changing. Impact investors and businesses increasingly tap into new start-ups, innovation hubs, and innovation accelerators, rather than trying to develop all the innovations in-house. As agri-food innovation systems become more diverse, investments must be better connected to achieve positive change. An innovation catalog can bridge gaps between research organizations and market or policy actors so that high-potential innovations do not get stuck in research papers or at the concept stage. The Innovation Catalog can answer questions by venture capital firms or impact philanthropists such as: Where can we find your products and at what development or readiness stage are they?

Next Steps: Broadening the use of the Innovation Catalog in the CGIAR

Graham Thiele, the director of RTB, encouraged the CGIAR and its partners to adopt the RTB Innovation Catalog by taking a few follow-up steps. First, the Catalog needs to be reviewed and updated for CGIAR-wide use; Second, the Catalog needs to be populated with other CGIAR innovations; Third, the Catalog should be piloted as a tool for managing an open innovation system; and Fourth, CGIAR could align and integrate Catalog functionalities as part of a CGIAR innovation portfolio management system.

This blog was written by Marc Schut, Paolo Sarfatti, Enrico Bonaiuti, and Graham Thiele on behalf of all those who worked on the Innovation Catalog and contributed to making the Launch Webinar a big success. Additional editing by Jeff Bentley.

Please access the Innovation Catalog here: https://innovation.mel.cgiar.org/#/.

For more information on the Innovation Catalog, please contact Enrico Bonaiuti (E.Bonaiuti@cgiar.org).