More often than not, objectives in the proposal are clear, measurable, and achievable within the duration of the proposed work. However, sometimes it so happens that they do not cover the entire scope of the topic description. Case in point is a project we once applied for where we primarily focused our proposal on a linear progression from pulses to by-products. Which was clearly a narrow interpretation of the topic requirements, and was thus interpreted to have an effect of not sufficiently leading to an innovative systemic approach that could be applied to diverse food value chains and this cost us.

We further had challenges of addressing some socio-economic aspects which were not adequately reflected in the concept, including, for example, structural and behavioural incentives, power imbalances, and social innovations beyond production of nutritious and healthier food and products. This too was costly.

We also attempted to adopt a multi-actor approach in solving the topic problem. We later learned that it limited us in two respects. Firstly, the involvement of food chain actors was focused on the production, processing and packaging actors, whereas insufficient attention was being paid to direct engagement with downstream actors (e.g. retailers, consumers). Secondly, the innovations which were to be piloted were pre-selected, and it was not fully explained to what extent these would be co-created with farmers. This pre-selection was also incoherent with respect to the requirement for mapping and assessment of existing innovations.

Last but not least, our overall methodology was found not to be sound from a technical viewpoint. We did not apply enough comprehensive methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to assess and benchmark economic, environmental and social performance of its innovative approaches. Furthermore, it did not sufficiently elaborate on how a cost/benefit analysis and risk assessment would ensure that trade-offs will be reduced and synergies will be created.

Lastly, our planned management of IPR was not sufficiently tailored to the variety of innovations that the proposal planned to implement, test and develop which would require differentiated approaches. This was thereby recorded as a shortcoming of our project proposal. Another shortcoming was that we had not clearly elaborated enough on the mechanisms by which existing and new innovations would have been managed.

You are probably asking yourself why we shared only analysis of what we did wrong, we would like to let you know that the reverse is true. Once you get a good understanding of where you went wrong, once given another opportunity you will not redo the mistakes and thus will be victorious in the end.

Thank you for following our journey this far in our #wheremynoneyat series. Please share with us some of the lessons that you have learned from your experiences so far.

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