Inspire Challenge FAQ's


How do I apply?
The online application is opening 15 June. Remember that the application process requires a partnership with that comprises of CGIAR and non-CGIAR partners. These can be of any type: public, private, non-profit, community-based organization, etc.. You can fill out the partner matching form 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.

How can an applicant submit an image as part of their proposal?
No image to be submitted on the application form. There will be an opportunity to use visual aids during the finalist pitch process and at the Innovation Marketplace.

Can we access examples of proposals from prior years to better understand proposal formats/guidelines?
Each winner, since the first cohort in 2017, has a dedicated project page tracking their activities. You can find all the project pages here. You can also view the Inspire Challenge 2020 Application Guide here.


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

I don’t yet have a partner, can CGIAR help with that?
Yes. We have updated the process this year to facilitate a more streamlined approach to the partnership process, allowing potential partners to connect more easily via this online form.

Once you submit your request, you will periodically receive the profiles of potential partners who match with your profile, candidates can reach out to each other to see if there is mutual interest. Applicants are responsible for their own follow-ups. If you already have a partner and an idea you are excited to put forward for the current Inspire Challenge, this form is not a necessary step in the application process.

How can we show a strong partnership on our application that demonstrates meaningful collaboration?
Meaningful collaboration is substantial and meaningful. It’s not just using a dataset or technology or having soft partnership. It is pulling together separate entities to something that is greater than the individual organizations or teams etc. You need to be able to clearly answer what each is bringing to the project and be sure you have this clearly communicated for the judges.

  • 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

Could you provide more details about the budget split policy between CGIAR and non-CGIAR partners?

There’s no hard and fast rule. It has to be a mutually agreed-upon allocation by both partners.

What about partners who already have some seed money. Can we mention that in our proposal?
Sure. A developed solution is fine so long as there is something new formed through the collaboration.

Does the CGIAR partnership have to be with a center or program or can it be with an individual person working in the CGIAR?
The CGIAR partner could be one individual as long as their research area aligns with one of CGIAR’s research themes.

What if I identified a partner already? Should I fill the partner search form still?
It is not necessary if you already have a project partner.

Can a proposal have more than two partners external to CGIAR?
You can have as many as you want. There is a section on the application form to add additional partners.


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 10 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 – held online this year. They will present their idea briefly in a plenary session on the first day, and then have the following days to interact with each other, subject matter experts, potential partners, the judges, and more during the online 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 “Innovation Bazaar”. 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 soon after.

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).

Is there any specific target groups that the judge will focus on this year?
We want to see impact pathways to farmers.

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.

When will the applicants find out if they have moved on to the next round?

Do you give any feedback about why an application was not successful?
Because of the volume of applications, the Platform cannot provide detailed feedback for each application. Reviewing previous winners and our 2017 Inspire Challenge Summary Brief will serve as valuable points of reference and provide insight.


If my idea is selected as a winner, can I commercialize its use?

Commercializable solutions are certainly within the scope of the Inspire Challenge, and any partner who brings proprietary intellectual property to the collaboration will keep that IP.

That said, the winning collaborations are tasked with generating a project that is new and that neither partner would be able to do on their own. As a result, we would like to retain the right of non-commercial use for our researchers for products that they co-developed.

Still wanting more information?

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