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What are innovation platforms in agricultural research?

Innovation platforms are widely used in agricultural research to connect different stakeholders to achieve common goals. To help document recent experiences and insights, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently published a series of short innovation platform ‘practice briefs’ to help guide the design and implementation of innovation platforms in agricultural research for development.

This first brief explains what innovation platforms are and how they work, and it describes some of their advantages and limitations.

Innovation platform actors and stakeholders.

An innovation platform is defined as ‘a space for learning and change. It is a group of individuals (who often represent organizations) with different backgrounds and interests: farmers, traders, food processors, researchers, government officials etc. The members come together to diagnose problems, identify opportunities and find ways to achieve their goals. They may design and implement activities as a platform, or coordinate activities by individual members.’

Innovation platforms are particularly useful in agriculture because agricultural issues tend to be complex. They involve different biophysical, socioeconomic and political factors, and concern various formal and informal institutions. By bringing together stakeholders in various sectors and from different levels, innovation platforms may be able to identify and address common concerns more effectively.

Innovation platforms can be used to explore strategies that can boost productivity, manage natural resources, improve value chains, and adapt to climate change. Some innovation platforms focus on single issues; others deal with multiple topics.

Download the brief

See all the briefs

More on innovation platforms

Related ILRI materials on innovation systems

This brief is authored by Sabine Homann-Kee Tui (ICRISAT), Adewale Adekunle (FARA), Mark Lundy (CIAT), Josephine Tucker (ODI), Eliud Birachi (CIAT), Marc Schut (Wageningen UR), Laurens Klerkx (Wageningen UR), Peter Ballantyne (ILRI), Alan Duncan (ILRI), Jo Cadilhon (ILRI) and Paul Mundy. It is a contribution to the CGIAR Humidtropics research program. The development of the briefs was led by the International Livestock Research Institute; the briefs draw on experiences of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, several CGIAR centres and partner organization.The series comprises 14 briefs:

  1. What are innovation platforms?
  2. Innovation platforms to shape national policy
  3. Research and innovation platforms
  4. Power dynamics and representation in innovation platforms
  5. Monitoring innovation platforms
  6. Innovation platforms for agricultural value chain development
  7. Communication in innovation platforms
  8. Developing innovation capacity through innovation platforms
  9. Linking action at different levels through innovation platforms
  10. Facilitating innovation platforms
  11. Innovation platforms to support natural resource management
  12. Impact of innovation platform
  13. Scaling and innovation platforms
  14. Addressing gender dynamics in innovation platforms

One thought on “What are innovation platforms in agricultural research?

  1. Here’s another definition directly from a farmer member of an innovation platform.
    I’ve just been listening to the interview conducted by Pham Ngoc Diep, ILRI MSc Graduate Fellow working on the MilkIT Project in Tanzania, with Mrs Grace Mhando, a dairy farmer and Vice-chairperson of the UWATA milk collection cooperative, Hamboni Village, Tanga Region, Tanzania. Mama Grace is a member of the Tanga Regional Dairy Innovation Platform. Here’s what she told us this morning to the question “What is an innovation platform?”:
    It’s a place where we go to meet four times per year. We discuss about milk prices not being good and how we are going to solve this problem. The government partner is collecting data to understand the costs of milk production and this will be discussed in the next platform meeting. One platform member has set up an artificial insemination service to improve the stock of the region’s dairy herd; this contributes to improving milk production in the region. The best thing of the innovation platform: the Regional Administrative Secretary (Head of local administration) attends all meetings personally and makes sure that government services attend to farmers’ needs.

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