Building Inclusion into the Food Research and Innovation Community

Breaking the cycles of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty requires more than just access to food and the technologies that increase productivity and climate resilience.  Consideration of cross-cutting issues, like local inclusion, capacity development, and gender equality have been validated as key determinants for the successful development and uptake of agricultural innovation in our food systems. However, there has been little attention and investment in the social science needed to improve our understanding of how better integration and coordination of these efforts in food innovation efforts might empower local ownership and self-reliance.

In response, GKI together with USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, has been leading a participatory process to cultivate a community of practice (CoP) on cross-cutting issues for the Bureau’s Feed the Future Innovation Labs (FtF IL). These 24 unique innovation labs pair the ingenuity of over 70 U.S. universities with the best global research and educational institutions to create a network working to advance solutions that address current and future food security challenges. 

Engaging a broad array of stakeholders – educational and research institutes, private sector partners, government entities, donor institutions, nonprofit organizations, and policymakers – GKI first mapped the current system of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and learning across the Innovation Labs, and designed a Community of Practice, or learning network, to better facilitate shared learning, build champions and leaders, innovate on cross-cutting themes, and influence the broader system by scaling research impact.