CGIAR Innovators Workshop | Building a Community around Innovation

CGIAR hosted a workshop in Kigali, Rwanda from 5 to 7 December, at Norrsken House Kigali, with the aim to support innovative solutions towards catalysing impact. Selected innovative solutions are part of CGIAR’s Regional Initiative: West and Central African Food Systems Transformation.


In the Innovators Workshop, the CGIAR and non-CGIAR innovator teams of high-readiness innovative solutions were given a series of interactive seminars targeting their capacity needs in various technology, innovation, communication, knowledge, and stakeholder (TICKS) management. The seminars were given by key resource people working for the regional CGIAR Initiative, as well as other lead experts who are renowned for their expertise in TICKS subjects. The seminars were followed by practical sessions in which the innovators develop a draft strategy for their innovation step by step. The workshop concluded by collaborative work on finalising a scaling strategy for the high-readiness innovative solution the innovators are championing.

Three innovations teams actively participated and contributed to the workshop, focussing on the following high-readiness innovative solutions:

  1. Rapid propagation technologies for early generation seed of roots, tubers and banana crops.
    Lead CGIAR Center: IITA
  2. Digital Agro-Climate Advisory (DACA) services
    Lead CGIAR Center: The Alliance of Biodiversity and CIAT
  3. Transforming sweet potato products
    Lead CGIAR Center: CIP

Key resource persons at the workshop shared expertise on the following TICKS related areas:

  • Murat Sartas, as an innovation and scaling expert at CGIAR organised and led the Innovator Workshop, shared in particular expertise on how to make your innovation stand out, knowledge management systems for attracting investments, as well as support in really knowing what your innovation is all about. The approach used in the workshop is powered by CGIAR’s Scaling Readiness Approach. This approach provides evidence-based analysis and recommendations for taking innovations to scale.
  • Mariëlle Karssenberg, as a knowledge broker at the Netherlands Food Partnership and The Broker, shared her experience on how to build a community around your innovation. Not only focusing on end-of-pipeline connections for fundraising purposes, but focusing on the benefits of establishing a broader network throughout the innovation cycle for scaling impact.
  • Malik Shafi Lizinde, as a Rwandan creative operator based in Kigali, shared his experience on human centred design thinking. Providing a new perspective on developing innovations to the innovator teams present at the workshop.
  • Jan Low, as the lead of the Sweet Potato for Profit and Health Initiative at the International Potato Center, specifically shared her expertise about how to engage with investors from the public and private sector for fundraising purposes.

Overall, the workshop provided the participants with new insights on their innovations and strengthened their capacities in various technology, innovation, communication, knowledge, and stakeholder (TICKS) management skills. The workshop activities also actively contributed to new linkages between the participants that can help them along the way in the next phases towards impact of their innovations.