Our Centers of Innovation RFA is an exciting opportunity for partners to engage on innovative projects that meet the needs of National Agricultural Research Institutes.
We hosted an informational webinar on March 19 to provide more background on the funding opportunity and answer questions. A recording of the webinar can be found below, and you can download the presentation slides here.
Need more information about the opportunity? We are keeping our Frequently Asked Questions page up to date.
As a reminder, written questions about the RFA are being accepted until March 23. The final submission deadline is April 10, 2020.
Our institution is a PIO under USAID. Will we be able to submit under ADS 308 flow downs?
Yes. But be sure to review RFA requirements pertaining to eligibility criteria.
Can CG centers lead these proposals? Can CG centers participate in multiple LOIs?
CG centers cannot lead the proposals, but they may fill the role as co-PI. The lead PI must be a NARI. Yes, CG centers can participate in multiple proposals as a co-PI.
Is there a limit on the number of applications from a single organization?
There is no limit on the number of applications submitted by one organization.
How do we go about selecting appropriate institutions?
The lead of the proposal must be a National Agricultural Research Institute as defined by the FAO. More information can be found on page 3 of the RFA.
Will regional proposals covering 2-3 countries be accepted?
Yes, proposals that include multiple countries will be accepted. Additionally, multiple regions can work together. Please refer to the list of 38 eligible countries throughout East Africa, West Africa, Asia, and Latin American and the Caribbean.
Is it possible to apply in collaboration with other NARI? Do we need one letter of commitment for the application?
Yes, multiple NARIs can work together. These groups must be led in-country. Letters of commitment must be submitted by each institution.
Is the expectation of the Center of Innovation be limited to a physical location of a breeding program or may refer to a network of programs working together?
It may be either. However, the PI leading the program or network must be an NARI scientist.
Can a breeder that is out of job apply and get a link to a CG center for the project execution?
PI has to be from a NARI in an eligible country, the PI can be from any discipline.
Can programs that have a quick win project from ILCI apply for a new proposal or continuation of quick win proposal?
Yes, programs currently engaged with ILCI as a quick win project can apply with a new proposal. This RFA has different criteria, so be sure to review requirements.
Can we focus on scaling out of innovations instead of developing innovations from scratch?
Likely innovations are provided by the ILCI team or other international efforts (like Excellence in Breeding) so scaling out is a legitimate priority based on the RFA.
Are their specific legumes that ILCI focuses on?
Any and all legumes are welcome, with the exception of peanut and soybean.
What does it mean to “define a product profile?" Does that just mean specifying which crops are targeted?
More information on product profiles can be found on the Excellence in Breeding website. https://excellenceinbreeding.org/
Is it possible to apply with a project with more than one crop?
Yes, you may submit a proposal with multiple target crops. You do not need a different PI for each crop.
Can an applicant work on a mix of crops, e.g. sorghum and cowpea?
Yes, applicants can submit a proposal with multiple crops.
If a project has more than one crop, can there may be more than one PI?
A project can have multiple co-PI’s, but only one lead PI.
Can one of the product profiles focus on industrial use including brewery?
USAID priorities are food security, nutrition, and economic growth. Brewing fits within the scope (economic growth) but likely is a lower priority based on the evaluation criteria.
There are already some innovation labs for sorghum and millet. Will these crops not be prioritized compared to other target crops?
No, priority level is expected to remain the same across all mandate crops.
Is it mandatory to have linkage to and work with US institutions?
It is not mandatory to work with a US institution. We encourage you to form the best team possible, independent of location.
What is a MSI? At what stage does the applicant involve the MSI? Can ILCI provide a list of MSI from which to select a potential partner?
MSI is a minority serving institution. While MSI’s are recommended and prioritized, they are not required. Please contact us directly if you’d like us to put you in touch with a MSI.
Is there a figure for in-kind and financial contribution that each NARS should state in the commitment letter? Can the contribution be included in the budget?
There is no established figure for how much each NARI should commit to for in-kind and financial contributions. However, we believe that the willingness for a NARI to contribute to the proposal is a great sign of commitment for project sustainability and long-term impact.
Can you elaborate more on traits relevant to youth ?
There are no universal traits that can be targeted to the youth cross-cutting theme. We encourage you to analyze how traits can be impactful across the country in regards to youth, women, climate resilience and nutrition.
Should projects focus on specific breeding target traits or focus on TTM’s to address long term improvement of key traits?
Successful projects likely will integrate both approaches.
Application process & logistics
Some of our collaborating institutions are already closed due to the ongoing crisis of COVID-19 and we may not be able to get Institutional Letters of Support from them, can we still make a submission without Letters of Support from some partners institutions?
If you can get the letter(s) of support please include them. If you cannot obtain letters of support to due to COVID-19 crisis, please state that in your LoI.
How should we handle references? May we include a references list in the supplemental material?
Yes you can submit a reference list in the supplemental material.
If a project is approved, is it possible to hire a consultant or specialist outside of the NARI to provide advisory in the project?
Yes it is possible to hire a consultant.
Can you speak about allowable overhead so we can budget appropriately?
Allowable overhead is determined through negotiation with the USG. Many institutions already have a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA). If an applicant doesn’t have an approved NICRA rate, they will only be allowed to charge 10% in IDC.
Is a budget supposed to be submitted at a phase 1? Is there a budget template? If not, are there budget lines to consider?
There is no budget template in the LoI phase. At this point, we ask that you submit the preliminary budget in your own format. Applications that move forward to the co-creation phase will be required to submit a budget with a template provided by ILCI.
In preparing the LoI, what do you mean by “line spacing not exceeding six lines of text per vertical inch?
This means that applicants should use standard formatting in their proposals, so as not to fit too much text on one page. A single space format is the most recommended.
I would like to be clear on the template for LOI?Is that the list of 1-7 items projected earlier starting product profile and ending with supplementary materials?
It is not a template, but guidance on the key features we expect to see in the LoI.
Will there be another occasion to submit a proposal?
The Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement will have a two-phase process. There will be another round for RFAs at a later date.
Can you elaborate on the ILCI training and workshops to support CoI projects? Will they be around the priority domains?
Training and workshops will be tailored to the specific NARI needs. Those needs and training opportunities will be determined in the co-creation process. We also hope to offer topical trainings on tools, technologies and methods in the regions where we work.