The SoLAR Innovation Fund (IF) aims to support the development and testing of technological, financial and institutional innovations to address the constraints and challenges of upscaling solar irrigation, with a special focus on the problems faced by small-scale, marginal, and women farmers in South Asia (specifically Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan).
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The IF will, in particular, aim to support innovations and practices that can influence policy or be expanded and integrated into regular government programs and practices with the support of additional funding sources. The objectives of the IF are as follows:
- Support innovations that help to bridge the gaps that hamper the scaling out of solar irrigation pumps in South Asia.
- Support innovations targeted at reducing barriers for sustainable adoption and use of solar irrigation pumps by small-scale, marginal, and women farmers.
- Support innovations that encourage the sustainable use of groundwater resources when using solar-based irrigation.
- Support innovations that enhance climate-resilient livelihood options for small-scale, marginal, and women farmers in the region.
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- Starting in 2020 and for the next 3 years, IWMI will administer a SoLAR Innovation Fund (IF) with a total value of CHF 400,000. Through this fund, the Institute will aim to support eight to ten innovations for the next 3 years.
- This is the first call for applications for IF grants. Four to five projects will be supported through this call. The next call for applications will be released in March 2021. The expected value of funding for each innovation will vary between CHF 30,000 and CHF 60,000 (converted to its equivalent USD value). The maximum duration of a project is 24 months.
Type of Innovations that will be funded
They are looking for innovations in the field of solar-powered irrigation that reduce barriers for the adoption of SIPs in South Asia (specifically Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan). This is not a research grant, and only those with innovations that can be tested on the ground under real-life field conditions will be funded. Innovations may fall into either of the following categories or be a combination of these:
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- Technological innovations
- Improving energy management protocols for distributed generation
- Use of cost-effective sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) for efficient water and energy use and metering
- Improving data and payment compliance (e.g., payment of instalments for SIPs by farmers, or payment from utility to the farmers) through use of remote monitors
- Supporting sustainable groundwater use/governance, for example, through remote metering and control of pumps
- Financial innovations
- Appropriate and affordable insurance products for SIPs
- Appropriate loan and other financial products for small, marginal, and women farmers facilitating access to SIPs
- Viable business models for SIP business entrepreneurs
- Incentives to support sustainable groundwater use/governance
- Institutional innovations
- Combining solar irrigation with other livelihood options such as agricultural value chains and creation of self-help groups, with a focus on small, marginal, and women farmers
- Alternative use of excess solar energy generated from SIPs, including other energy markets for solar entrepreneurs
- Creating self-sustaining groups of landless and/or women SIP irrigators/service providers
- Incentives to support sustainable groundwater use/governance
Please note that the above-mentioned topics are not exhaustive in any way, and applicants may suggest single or combined innovations relevant to the themes/topics mentioned above.
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Innovation fund grantees will be selected from an open competitive process. The SoLAR IF Grant is open to all nongovernmental organizations, universities, technical institutes, research institutes, public and private sector enterprises and research laboratories, and government agencies, including local government institutions working in any of these four countries who are eligible for this grant. This is not a research grant, and all innovations have to be tested on the ground under real-life field conditions. Applicants must already have the required registrations and permits needed to work in the country they select, and proof of such registration/permit must be sent together with the application letter. Collaboration with Swiss firms/organizations is encouraged, though not mandatory.
Short-listed proposals will be judged on the following criteria:
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- Nature and scope of the innovation and its relevance to the aims of this call
- Strategic and innovative value for meeting the challenges set out in the call
- Logic and clarity of the innovation and its design
- Technological, social, institutional and financial feasibility
- Potential for replication and scaling up
- Relevance to climate change concerns
- Financial viability of the innovation and exit strategy
- Value for money and cost-effectiveness of the project
- Expertise and qualifications of the project team
- Background and experience of the project team in handling similar projects
Innovation teams led by women, or teams that have adequate representation of women and youth, will be given priority.
For more information, visit http://solar.iwmi.org/call-for-innovation-funds/
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