Call for Expressions of Interest: Capacity development of Myanmar’s think tanks

How to apply

Interested think tanks should submit an expression of interest with supporting documents to myanmar@idrc.ca by Monday July 24, 2017, 11:45 p.m. (midnight) EDT/ 10:30 a.m. (Yangon time).

Please consult Annex A for detailed guidelines for submitting an expression of interest and Annex B for the evaluation and selection criteria (PDF, 344KB) that will be used.

All enquiries should be addressed to myanmar@idrc.ca

Funding scope and duration

Grants of up to CA$400,000 will be made to each selected think tank over a maximum period of 36 months or three years (2017–2020).

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) invites expressions of interest from Myanmar-based think tanks to receive general budget support or core funding to allow them to undertake mid to long-term planning, establish their own research priorities, and invest in creating strong research programs that will ultimately influence policy outcomes. The aim is to strengthen Myanmar’s local research institutions or “think thanks” to generate high-quality evidence and make lasting contributions to policymaking. This initiative will help fund both the think tank’s research program and operating costs in three broad areas: general organizational development, research methods and skills, and communication and outreach.

Who can apply

Independent policy research think tanks based in Myanmar whose research is centered on national-level issues of democratic transition and economic development. We encourage think tanks that have a strong gender approach and promote gender equality through their research. 

Background

 As an emerging democracy, Myanmar faces many challenges, particularly with respect to poverty and vulnerability. During this ongoing transition towards democratic systems, there are numerous changes in the political, social, economic, and administrative spheres. These changes can only be effective if men and women of all ethnicities participate actively in the democratic transition and work towards inclusive economic growth. The process requires a population that engages in meaningful dialogue with its government using locally generated data, evidence, and analysis. Without such locally relevant information and analysis, well-intentioned policies often do not respond to realities on the ground.

The role of think tanks 

Think tanks provide research outputs to policymakers, create spaces for public debates, and engage multiple audiences and stakeholders to influence policy decisions.

International donors now recognize that local ownership is critical to successful development. Consequently, Canada has chosen to invest in local think tanks that can carry out the ongoing research and analysis needed by policymakers to effect policy improvements over time.

Evidence from think tanks across most of the developing world show that think tanks rarely receive core funding to enhance their organizational development. International donors offer limited support, but usually for one-off projects, which the donor agency often designs and leads. As a result of this constraint, most policy research institutes are primarily engaged in “responsive research,” rather than setting a forward-looking research agenda responding to locally-determined needs. Despite this and other challenges, think tanks are flourishing in the developing world. As more developing countries become multiparty democracies, governments are increasingly seeking external input and critique from these think tanks. In many countries, including Myanmar, researchers are beginning to work more closely with ministries and parliaments, providing data and analysis to make more informed policy decisions.

The initiative

Canada, through IDRC and Global Affairs Canada (GAC), is launching Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM), an initiative to expand the research and analytical capacity of local organizations, public officials, and civil society; to serve as a platform to bring Myanmar’s diverse constituencies together; and to provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the reform process. You can read more about the initiative at www.idrc.ca/myanmar.

Within this initiative, Canada seeks to pursue its mandate of supporting local research think tanks to inform public policies in a democratic Myanmar, and to build on its own nearly decade-long experience of IDRC’s Think Tank Initiative (TTI) in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Objectives

K4DM intends to strengthen a select group of independent policy research institutions (think tanks) based in Myanmar, so as to enable these institutions to provide effective, objective, and high-quality research that informs and ultimately influences policy.  Specifically, the initiative aims to select a group of at least three promising independent policy research think tanks and provide a combination of general funding, dedicated capacity development training, and other technical support to strengthen their performance in the three following areas:

  • Organizational performance
  • Research quality
  • Communications and outreach

Financial and technical support

 At least three Myanmar-based think tanks will receive support as a result of this call. Final selection of candidates will be made based on recommendations by a national advisory committee of experts. Each think tank will be eligible for a grant up to CA$400,000 over a period of 36 months or three years (2017–2020). Grants will provide part of the institution’s overall budget over this three year funding period. The exact number of grants awarded, and the size of individual grants, will be determined in part by organizational assessments conducted by the K4DM in collaboration with short-listed applicants.

The defining feature of providing capacity development for think tanks lies in the provision of core funding. IDRC will make grants to cover operating and research costs as well as institutional strengthening activities such as strategic planning, human resources, financial management, and auditing. The grants will also support dedicated capacity building and training activities, peer-to-peer review, and learning and exchange between supported organizations, external experts, and other stakeholders (donor agencies with related programs, representatives of government agencies, other think tanks, etc.). 


ANNEX A: Submitting an expression of interest

Please submit your expression of interest to myanmar@idrc.ca by Monday July 24, 2017, 12:00  AM (midnight) EDT/ 10:30 am (Yangon time).

Expressions of interest will detail how the institution’s strategy for organizational capacity building would ultimately lead to a stronger institution with improved ability to help translate research into policy, including:

  • Research excellence in terms of design, relevance, quality, and influence
  • Building and managing data and information management systems
  • Policy engagement
  • Governance and leadership
  • Organizational processes such as communication strategies
  • Strategic planning and resource mobilization
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Human resource development
  • Financial management

Submissions must not exceed five pages and must include the following four sections in full:

Section A - General information

  1. Official name of institution in incorporation documents
  2. Address
  3. Telephone
  4. Website
  5. Executive director (or chief executive)
  6. Telephone
  7. Email address
  8. Alternative contact (telephone or email address)

Section B – Institutional information

  1. Date of the establishment/incorporation of the institution (MM/DD/YYYY)
  2. Total number of full-time employees
  3. Total annual budget (2017 or most recent year available)
  4. The approximate percentage of the budget is allocated to:
    1. Research (%)
    2. Overhead/administration (%)
    3. Communication and outreach (%)
  5. What approximate percentage of the staff (100%) works in:
    1. Research (%)
    2. Administration (%)
    3. Communication and outreach (%)
  6. What approximate percentage of the staff (100%) works:
    1. Part-time (%)
    2. Full-time (%)
  7. What approximate percentage of financial resources (100%) comes from:
    1. Grants/funding (%)
    2. Consultancy work (%)
    3. Other
  8. What approximate percentage of funding (100%) comes from:
    1. International donors (%)
    2. National donors excluding government (%)
    3. Government (%)
    4. University (%)
    5. Other
  9. Does the institution have a board or governing body to which the executive director/chief executive reports?
    1. Yes (if yes, please provide the names and titles of your board members within the space provided below, maximum 200 words).
    2. No
  1. Please provide the name and contact information of two independent references (policymaker, international scholar, etc.) who can speak to the organization and its work (within the space provided below, maximum 200 words).

Section C – Expression of interest

  1. This question is the heart of your expression of interest. This is the space to describe your vision for improvement and to provide a summary of what you want to achieve and what you need to achieve it (maximum 2,500 words or five pages single spaced). 
    Please include:
  • A description of the organization, its vision and mission, and its commitment to undertake organizational improvement;
  • Current and future research areas and significant achievements. This includes examples of “policy event(s)/policy changes” in which the organization has been (or would like to be) involved, or in which the organization has been instrumental;
  • Current and future partners, stakeholders, and users of the organization’s research, and a description of how the organization plans to contribute to learning and exchange with other research institutes;
  • An overview of how the organization anticipates making use of support from the initiative (e.g. the types of improvements to be introduced).
  1. If you have not discussed this already, please speak of one or two research outputs that you have produced and provide a rationale or “story” of why you chose to work on this particular issue, and how you think this output has been influential in Myanmar’s policy debates and/or decisions around this issue (within the space provided below, maximum 500 words).

Section D - Supporting documents

  1. Please attach (a) IDRC’s institutional profile questionnaire (IPQ) as well as (b) corporate/incorporation papers (in English and Burmese).
  2. Please attach your institution’s most recent audited financial statement.
  3. Please attach the CVs of up to two principal researchers (including a list of their publications).
  4. Please attach up to two research outputs. These should revolve around one issue and could be a combination of: a journal article, a book, policy brief, newspaper article, and/or conference/workshop report that  illustrate the work of your organization. 
  5. Please attach a budget proposal that includes the following categories: salaries, consultants, equipment, international travel, research expenses, evaluation, training, and indirect costs (administration).
  6. Please attach your institution’s most recent strategic plan (if available).
  7. (Optional) You may also choose to attach:
  • Your institution’s most recent annual report
  • Any external evaluation your institution has had within the past three years
  1. Please indicate the name, title and contact email (or phone number) of the person within the institution who has prepared the Expression of Interest.