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Inspire Challenge FAQ's


How do I apply?
The online application is open and you can apply 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. Proposals must align with at least one CGIAR Research Program and teams will be comprised of CGIAR and non-CGIAR partners of any type (public, private, non-profit, community-based organization…).


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

I don’t have a CGIAR partnership, yet. Can the Platform help me engage with a potential CGIAR center, Community of Practice or Research Program?

Non-CGIAR institutions looking for CGIAR partners are invited to send an abstract and contact information to the Big Data Platform Secretariat at

Please include the following:

  • Abstract
  • What you propose to do
  • Your organization’s capabilities
  • Target geographies
  • What crop, value chain, or other aspects of the food system you seek to impact
  • Contact information

The Secretariat will forward these to relevant contacts and CGIAR Centers, Communities of Practice, and CGIAR Research Programs.

Are private sector partners preferred?
Non-CGIAR partners can be of any type (public, private, non-profit, community-based organization…)


How will judging work?

  • The Inspire Challenge management team will make a preliminary ranking of the proposals of how well they meet three eligibility criteria (use of data, meaningful collaboration, and innovation) and will select up to 12 finalists to send to a judging panel.
  • 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.
  • One of the panel judges will be a gender and ICT specialist.
  • At least one member of each finalist team must represent their proposal at the Big Data in Agriculture Convention. They will present their idea briefly in a plenary session on the first day, and then have two days to interact with each other, subject matter experts, potential partners, the judges, 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 during an open “bazaar” on the second day. This is a chance to build new partnerships or gain new feedback or insights into their idea.
  • In a plenary session on the final day of the Convention, finalists will make their final presentation of their idea and have brief Q&A with the judges. Judges will then finalize their rankings and awardees will be announced later 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).

Will there be awards for each category?

Submissions across all categories will be evaluated together.

Can a proposal cover more than one category?
Submissions must target one category.



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 eligibility criteria of the Challenge.

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 teams are required to have at least one member 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 would still like to attend.
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


Lunch and snacks will be provided to all participants throughout the meeting.  

We would be very grateful if you could kindly provide your dietary requirements during registration, well in advance ( i.e. vegetarian, vegan, any food allergies such as nuts etc.). You can contact Sallyannie Muhoro.

Hors d’oeuvres will be provided at the end of the first two days and participants are invited to the final awards night cocktail dinner, hosted at the Trademark ballroom.

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