Inspire Challenge FAQ's


How do I apply?
Applications can be uploaded online here.

Can I apply for more than one challenge?
Yes. We encourage all well thought out applications.

Do we have to apply in conjunction with a CGIAR center?
Yes. One of the CGIAR Centers or CGIAR research programs must be a partner for the proposal.

If I don’t know of a CGIAR center, can you introduce me?
Yes, those with well thought out proposals can be introduced to CGIAR centers for the purposes of forming a team to apply. Contact us at


The form says that proposals must have two partners. Why is that?
The Inspire Challenges are intended to spark new partnerships between the CGIAR network and others in the wider research, business, or data ecosystems.

How can we show a strong partnership on our application that demonstrates meaningful collaboration?

  • Listing the names and email addresses of those from the organizations working on the proposals – both CGIAR and non-CGIAR
  • Outlining how each of the partners involved will divide up the work
  • Indicating how funds will be allocated amongst the partners

How will judging work?

  • Judges have been selected from prestigious organizations familiar with the work of CGIAR. They will be evaluating applications based on the following scorecard.
  • Judges will evaluate submissions against the scorecard to make a preliminary ranking and select finalists.
  • Finalists will introduce their submission briefly in a plenary session on the first day of the Big Data in Agriculture Convention. They will have about two days to interact with each other, subject matter experts, potential partners and more at the Convention.
  • Finalists are encouraged to have some representation of their submissions, such as a mock-up, prototype, or presentation they can show to Convention attendees. This is a chance to build new partnerships or gain new feedback or insights into their idea.
  • In a plenary session on Thursday the 21st of September, finalists will make their final presentation of their idea and have brief Q&A with the judges. Judges will finalize their rankings and awardees will be announced that day.

How will the grant award process work?

  • The CGIAR center on the winning application will be transferred funds for implementation. It is up to them to subsequently coordinate spending with their non-CGIAR partner(s).

How will the evaluation process work?
We aim to keep evaluation and reporting substantive but not onerous. Collaboratively the awardees and the Big Data Secretariat will select indicators that will help us understand impact and contribute to the learning agenda.

Can we seek technical support during our project implementation?
The Big Data Secretariat would be happy to collaborate with Inspire Challenge awardees on the path to implementation. This support can take the form of:

  • Pointing awardees to similar efforts or specialized expertise
  • Any technical input that may be requested.

Who owns the data?
All data outputs must be open and shareable. However, any pre-existing intellectual property used during the Inspire Challenge process will be respected.

Can you tell me more about the Challenge criteria?

  • Novelty: Is this a new or innovative idea? Could it move the discipline of digital agriculture development forward in an important new way?
  • Scalability: Could the approach be relevant and potentially expand across the CGIAR? Across a whole country or value chain?
    Impact: How much of a difference will this make in people’s lives?
  • Data: Does the approach leverage data effectively and democratize access to the benefits of data-driven insights?
  • Use: Will it be easy for target users to understand and adopt?

Why are the submission criteria different from the scoring criteria?
While the qualifying factors focus on how relative a submission is to the Inspire Challenges, the scorecard is meant to evaluate how successfully a proposal is likely to be when realized by considering:

  • Scope and Relevance: “Does the proposal meet the Inspire Challenge factors”
  • Use of Data: “Will the proposal make good use of the various data sets available for their purpose?”
  • Design and Implementation: “Is the proposed solution well designed and achievable?
  • Pitch and Demo: “Does the team have what it takes to be able to motivate and convince people to execute on their idea?”
  • Maintenance and Sustainability: “Has sufficient attention been given to a strong succession plan?”

Wait, do we actually have to present at the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Convention to present our proposal?

Yes.  The Convention is an opportunity to interact with other teams and subject matter experts to improve the proposal and/or spark new collaborations that will make it more actionable.  As a result, all groups are expected to have one to two people present at the convention (September 19-21st in Cali, Colombia) to represent their proposal.

What about visas for that?
Colombian visa requirements vary depending on nationality.  Participants needing visa assistance are encouraged to submit their proposals as soon as possible, and August 28th at the latest.

What travel arrangements will CIAT make to keep us safe while in Colombia?
CIAT has organized group hotel accommodation as well as shuttle transportation for participants.  Those concerned about safety should check with their country’s embassy.

I can’t afford to travel to the convention, but still want to go.
Travel grants are available to a very limited number of partners from developing countries, and those who are competing for Inspire Challenge Grants will be prioritized.  If you need support, please submit a short letter requesting travel support, outlining your motives to take part and your point of origin. Include full name, passport number, passport issue and expiry date. Send the letter to

Have we missed anything?

If you have any further questions, you can contact us at