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SGCI Call for Proposals to support the strengthening of national research and innovation funding agencies in West Africa

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The Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI) is calling for proposals to support the strengthening of national research and innovation funding agencies in West Africa.

Summary

The Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI) is calling for proposals to support the strengthening of national research and innovation funding agencies in West Africa. The work will strengthen agencies where they already exist and where they do not, it will support the development of frameworks for establishing new agencies. The work will take place in six countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Through a new partnership between the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and IDRC, funding of up to CAD$1 million is available for this work over a period of approximately 36 months.  

The SGCI invites proposals from organizations (including think tanks, institutes, universities, and agencies) based in Africa with proven experience and track records in Africa and especially West Africa. The organizations should have experience in areas such as public sector science, technology and innovation (STI), organizational capacity strengthening, management of research funds, national STI policy and practice and engaging the private sector in research. Successful organizations will undertake various activities including offering training and technical support to science granting councils (SGCs) and related organizations (such as Commissions or Funds) in the six countries. 

IDRC will enter into an agreement with the successful organization.

The following section provides the project’s background and context as well as potential objectives and approach. Applicants are expected to use this information only as a guide in developing their proposals. Proposals should not be limited to the points outlined below and originality/creativity will be among the key evaluation criteria.
 

Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa

Science granting councils (and related organizations such as Commissions and Funds) perform crucial functions that contribute to the effective and efficient functioning of national science (STI) systems. These functions vary from country to country but include the following: disbursement of grants for research, development and innovation (RDI); building research capacity through scholarships and bursaries; setting and monitoring research agendas and priorities; issuing research permits; formulating/revising national STI policies; providing policy advice to governments; managing bilateral/multilateral STI agreements; and monitoring and assessing the impacts of publicly funded research as well as research funded from other sources.

Participating countries

Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mawali, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Since 2015, the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI-1) has involved collaboration between several funders (namely FCDO, IDRC, South Africa’s National Research Fund (NRF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and most recently the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and councils from across East, southern and West Africa. The focus has been on strengthening the capacities of councils to support research and evidence-based policies that can contribute to economic and social development. Fifteen countries (see Participating countries above) have been actively involved in the Initiative. In SGCI-2 two additional countries, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, will participate.

SGCI-2 Themes

Theme 1: Strengthen the ability of science granting councils in research management

Theme 2: Strengthen the capacity of science granting councils to use data and evidence in policy and decision-making

Theme 3: Support the ability of science granting councils to fund research and innovation

Theme 4: Support strategic communications, uptake of knowledge outputs and networking

Theme 5: Strengthen the capacities of science granting councils in gender equality and inclusivity

Initially SGCI focused on strengthening the ability of the councils to: (a) manage research; (b) design and monitor research programs and formulate and implement policies based on the use of STI indicators; (c) support knowledge exchange with the private sector; and (d) establish partnerships among councils and with other science system actors. In its current second phase, work with the councils in these areas has deepened and broadened, with additional attention to research excellence, strategic communications/ uptake of knowledge outputs, and gender equality and inclusivity (SGCI-2 Themes). Councils received funding to manage their own research calls and have drawn on their enhanced capacities to promote collaborative research projects and networking.

SGCI in West Africa

Compared to other regions in Africa, few countries in West Africa have established granting councils or related funding agencies that disburse funds for research, development, and innovation (RDI) or support the formulation of related policies. In several countries in the region, these functions are performed by departments or special units within government ministries. For example, of those countries active in SGCI since it launched in 2015, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire  have used SGCI funds to run research calls, share and learn lessons from councils in other regions and undertake reviews of their policies on gender equality in research, among other activities.  Ghana is in the process of establishing a council and SGCI has supported the establishment of the Ghana Innovation and Research Centre (GIRC), which is expected to grow into an innovation agency. In all four cases, the new FCDO-IDRC funding provides an opportunity for additional efforts to strengthen the national agencies in these countries, for example in areas such as monitoring research projects, financial reporting, institutional risk assessment, institutional communications capacity and using research results to inform government policy and private sector practice.

SGCI will also support the development of institutional frameworks for establishing new research funding bodies or mechanisms in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Nigeria joined SGCI in mid-2021 through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), which has been supporting research and research infrastructure across universities and centres of excellence for over a decade. TETFund has been working with the federal government to set up a National Research and Development Foundation with the goal of using research and development partnerships in a number of priority thematic areas to reposition Nigeria in the global science, technology and innovation context and create a knowledge-based economy. Nigeria recently participated in a SGCI gap analysis workshop to review its work on science, technology and innovation policy; monitoring, evaluation and learning; and data management systems. Sierra Leone has also been invited to join SGCI when the timing is right with its evolving science, technology and innovation policy development processes.  

The specific objectives of this project will include: 

  • identifying the needs/areas for support in all six countries, with subsequent activities to be undertaken (taking into account other activities under SGCI-2); 
  • improving how science granting councils function in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal by aligning strategy, structure, resources and management processes (e.g., in project monitoring, financial reporting and communicating research results); and  
  • developing organizational frameworks (e.g., policy, legislative, financial, administrative, institutional) to create science granting councils in the three countries where they do not yet exist (Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). 

We are inviting proposals from organizations to design and deliver this support that targets the six countries in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone). The proposals should provide details about the approach and identify areas for support, the nature and scope of activities to undertake, and the results to achieve over the duration of the project. The proposed support could include technical support to develop policy documents/frameworks; commissioned studies; learning/benchmarking visits to other countries; and support to convene stakeholder consultations and other policy engagements. The actual establishment of a research funding body/mechanism is a political process that is beyond the scope of SGCI. The intended results in the target countries are to strengthen existing research funding bodies/mechanisms and to establish frameworks for new research funding bodies/mechanisms. Additional requirements for proposal submissions are set out in the following sections.
 

Timelines and budget

Activity Description Scheduled Dates
Call for project proposals and review process
  • Call for proposals launch
  • Deadline for submission of proposals
  • Review of proposals
  • Outcome of selection process is communicated to all applicants
  • 15 June 2022
  • 30 July 2022
  • 1–15 August 2022
  • 15 August 2022  
Finalization of implementation and work plans Successful applicant will work with the initiative management team August-September 2022
Signing of grant agreement Preparation of project approval documents and development and signature of grant agreements between IDRC and the lead collaborating technical agency August-September 2022
Project Implementation Period (36 months) Selected collaborating technical agency consortium implements the gender and inclusivity project 1 October 2022 – 30 September 2025

The budget available for this project is up to CAD $1,000,000 million (all inclusive) over approximately 36 months. A draft budget should be submitted using the IDRC Workbook.
 

Application procedure and submission deadline

Proposals (25 pages or less, excluding annexes) should be submitted electronically to the SGCI secretariat (SGCSSA@idrc.ca) by 30 July 2022 (17:00 East Africa Time) with a copy to Loise Ochanda lochanda@idrc.ca. Proposals submitted after this deadline will not be accepted. Please direct any enquiries about this call to the secretariat with a copy to Loise.  

Proposals should be submitted in Word format in French or English. They should be concise and include the following elements at a minimum:  

  • Title, name, address and contact details of the project leader and name and address of the applicant organization;  
  • Executive summary;  
  • Project background and rationale;  
  • Goal, specific objectives, key activities and links to other SGCI themes;  
  • Approach to training and technical support;  
  • Expected outputs and outcomes as well as project-level monitoring and evaluation; 
  • Gender equality/inclusivity and ethical requirements (in submitting a proposal, any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest must be declared to IDRC); 
  • Risks and potential mitigation measures (this information should be presented in a table listing the major potential risks associated with  project implementation, in addition to the risk probability/impact and potential management measures); 
  • Organizational profile(s) and key project personnel; and  
  • Brief biodata of the project’s key project team members (included as an annex).
     

Project team requirements

The requirements for the project team members include the following:  

  • Knowledge of national science, technology and innovation systems and the research and development funding landscape in sub-Saharan Africa (and ideally in West Africa), including the key actors (organizations), policies and the roles of science granting councils in brokering, facilitating, funding and coordinating the interactions among the various actors.  
  • Experience in working with public sector science, technology and innovation organizations (especially science granting councils) in Africa, and ideally in West Africa, in the context of capacity strengthening. 
  • Experience in research funding processes, research management and engaging the public, private and community sectors in research. 
  • Knowledge of research ethics, research excellence and gender and inclusivity approaches in research. 
  • Expertise and experience in monitoring, evaluation and learning and data management systems and frameworks.  
  • Ability to work in both French and English is a requirement and applications without both language capabilities will not be evaluated.
     

Evaluation criteria

The proposals will be reviewed by the SGCI initiative management team and scored using a 50-point scale as follows:  

Criteria

Score 

Expertise and experience of project team members in Africa’s science, technology and innovation (STI) systems, especially in West Africa. This includes the key actors (organizations); STI policymaking processes; capacity strengthening of public sector STI organizations; experience in research funding/management, research ethics, gender and inclusivity in research; data management systems; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and working with science granting councils in sub-Saharan Africa.  

15

Originality, creativity and clarity of the proposal. The proposal should demonstrate familiarity with SGCI’s work and a clear understanding of the project’s ambition and the roles of science granting councils in national science systems. The proposal should also clearly articulate how the project will complement ongoing work in these countries under SGCI and other initiatives.   

15

Clarity and soundness of the project’s approach to training and technical support, including appropriateness for sub-Saharan African councils, the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and alignment with the SGCI’s joined up implementation approach.  

15

Clarity/justification of the budget and the extent of its alignment with the proposed project activities based on value for money principles (e.g., economy, efficiency, effectiveness). 

5 

About the SGCI funding partners

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is a government department of the United Kingdom that pursues national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. FCDO promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends its values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges with international partners. 

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its main purpose is to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Norad has five main priorities: Invest more strategically; Be a key partner in sustainable development; Contribute to a greener world; Be a champion of innovation within development cooperation; and strengthen and systematize the development, sharing and use of knowledge within Norad. 

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is a government agency of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It strives to reduce world poverty by allocating resources and knowledge with the goal of making a difference for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. To achieve this, Sida collaborates with actors from civil society and universities as well as the public and private sector. 

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is a Canadian Crown corporation that supports the generation of knowledge and innovation for positive change. IDRC generates, identifies and tests scalable ideas and innovations. It also connects solutions with actors who can help to achieve large-scale impact and examines early wins in scaling up in order to identify and share critical success factors.  

South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) is a government mandated research and science development agency whose goal is to create innovative funding instruments, advance research career development, increase public science engagement and establish leading-edge research platforms that will transform the scientific landscape and inspire a representative research community to aspire to global competitiveness. 

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is the self-governing organization for science and research in Germany. It serves all branches of science and the humanities. In organizational terms, the DFG is an association under private law. Its membership consists of German research universities, non-university research institutions, scientific associations and the Academies of Science and the Humanities.