Inspire Challenge FAQ's


How do I apply?
The online application is opening shortly.

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 AND a Research Program must be a partner for the proposal.


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.
  • Judges will evaluate submissions against a 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 during the convention, 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?

Applications will be reviewed in two rounds; a preliminary assessment and a judging panel.

The preliminary assessment will be managed by the Inspire Challenge management team for their responsiveness to the current state of digital agriculture technology and use cases.

This pre-assessment focuses on three key categories:

  • Meaningful collaboration – leveraging partners’ capabilities to create something more than the sum of its parts
  • Innovativeness of the proposal – how new or groundbreaking the idea is
  • Mobilization of underused or misused data – especially CGIAR data

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 (October 3-5 in Nairobi, Kenya) to represent their proposal.

What about visas for that?
Kenya visa requirements vary depending on nationality.  Participants needing visa assistance are encouraged to submit their proposals as soon as possible. Please see here for more information about applying for a Kenyan visa.

What travel arrangements will the host center, ICRAF, make to keep us safe while in Kenya?
ICRAF 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

Still wanting more information?

See our convention FAQ page for more information about travel, accommodation, currency and more. If you have any further unanswered questions, you can contact us at