Innovation Challenge 2022 banner

Innovation Challenge 2022 banner

IFAD believes that innovation is critical to improve its performance and address problems during the Twelfth Replenishment of IFAD’s Resources (IFAD12) period and beyond. We are holding a second Innovation Challenge to encourage colleagues from across the organisation to think of ways in which we can innovate in both how we organise our work but also our operations in country projects.

The first Innovation Challenge was held during 2019 to promote innovation in the organization, with a focus on enhancing results and efficiency. Fifty proposals were received, 10 were selected to develop proofs of concept and prototyping and, by the end of the Challenge, two winners were chosen and funded for scaling up: GeoScan and GeoTech4Tenure (which fostered further interest in IFAD about the uses of geospatial technology in the Fund’s investments). A third project, TRACE Blockchain by IFAD, was also supported as it addresses one of the problems identified during the Challenge.  Overall, the challenge succeeded in contributing to idea generation and foster a culture that promotes innovation.

The 2022 IFAD Innovation Challenge

This edition of the Challenge will support ideas that bring innovations into IFAD’s operations or business practices organised into the following five categories or “tracks”:

Track 1: Innovative finance
Ideas that help IFAD identify innovative finance products and services to address the challenges and needs of IFAD’s target groups and member countries’ linked to disruption (e.g. accelerated digital transformation, effects of COVID-19) or transition to different stages of development.

Track 2: Data innovation
Ideas and use cases that contribute to IFAD’s mandate and enhance IFAD’s scientific methods, processes, and algorithms to extract knowledge and insights. IFAD will make the relevant tools available, as feasible, on the Enterprise Azure platform and cloud storage, as well as provide a number of Microsoft Power Business Intelligence (BI) licences to enable this track.

Track 3: Innovations to eliminate “sludge”
Ideas (both technological and/or non) that contribute to a human-centred, results-oriented approach and that help to flatten the organization and establish inter-generational and inter-departmental collaboration and trust.

Track 4: Innovations for culture change
Ideas that promote a safe working environment and address culture change areas such as leadership and inclusive work environments, and promoting anti-sexual harassment practices. Promising ideas submitted under this track are encouraged to participate in the UN Culture Change Innovation Challenge that IFAD is co-leading with other UN partners.

Track 5: Other innovations
“Wild card” ideas addressing problems clearly defined by your team, unit or division. Applications from colleagues in IFAD’s Country Offices are particularly encouraged under this track.

Why an Innovation Challenge?

By participating in the Challenge, teams will:

  1. Foster change. Contribute to improving the ways IFAD works.
  2. Get funding. Receive financial support to realise their ideas.
  3. Receive coaching. Benefit from coaching sessions from international experts on tools on innovation, design thinking, behavioral science, entrepreneurship, etc.
  4. Get support. Receive guidance from IFAD colleagues in selected business units.

Applications that feature co-funding partnerships, innovative approaches and frontier technologies will be receiving bonus points. Applications from or in partnership with IFAD’s Country Offices and with diverse and inclusive teams are particularly encouraged.

Selection criteria

  • Level of innovation
  • Potential impact
  • Level of alignment to IFAD’s mandate and priorities
  • Feasibility and viability of implementation

Deadlines and timeline

The deadline for applications is 31 January 2022, with the announcement of up to 6 winners to be made in March 2022 for further funding and development.

For more details, please read the full concept note and the flyer. A detailed timeline of the different stages of the challenge can be found here:

* Pretotyping is a set of tools, techniques, and tactics designed to help you validate any idea for a new product quickly, objectively, and accurately. Make sure that you are building the right it before you build It right. See

In order to apply:

  1. If you are an IFAD staff member, please submit your application using the link on the IFAD Intranet.
  2. If you are not an IFAD staff member, but have a great idea and want to join up with an IFAD staff member to submit your idea, please send an email to

Team members can be any member of IFAD’s workforce or IFAD’s partners in the field. Applications from IFAD’s country offices are particularly encouraged!

You can read the questions here. However only applications submitted through IFAD’s Intranet application form will be taken into consideration.