Food Tank Launches Democratizing Innovation Research Program––Share Your Solutions!

Food Tank Launches Democratizing Innovation Research Program––Share Your Solutions!

Around the world small-scale farmers, NGOs, researchers, and everyday people alike implement creative sustainable food and agriculture practices. On the ground, innovational solutions addressing challenges to the food system are created and used for large-scale issues; solutions from the Fairfield University students’ SpinLeaf machine––an electric powered spinner designed to speed the process of cleaning loose-leaf greens for small-scale farmers––to China’s Zhangzi Island community, which has created a model community-owned sustainable fishery operation by involving the island’s 15,000 residents as shareholders, and has received a variety of sustainability certificates for their rigorous standards of ensuring environmental harmony.

Food Tank is excited to receive funding from McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) to explore how democratizing innovation processes are leading to new solutions for food systems around the globe. 

The CCRP funds participatory, collaborative research on agroecological intensification, bringing smallholder farmers, researchers, development professionals, and others together to create technology to improve nutrition, livelihoods, and productivity for farming communities in Africa and South America. Taking a place-based approach, the CCRP provides grants to local and national grantees participating in communities of practice in the twelve countries. Members of the communities of practice bring deep knowledge of the regions in which they work and collaborate among themselves and with other stakeholders on solutions to poverty and food insecurity. CCRP regional teams provide direct support to help communities of practice strengthen their capacity, foster innovation, and explore pathways to take technologies and processes to scale. 

This effort is supported by the Externalities Working Group of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Throughout the next year, Food Tank would like to take this program as an opportunity to hear from YOU about your opinions on democratizing innovation. We would like to invite you to share your experiences with innovational sustainable agriculture and food system practices.

Questions to consider include:

1. What does democratizing innovation mean to you and where are examples of it?

2. What challenge have YOU faced––pertaining to the food system––that has required you to come up with an innovational solution? What was your solution?

3. What organizations or individuals––include communities, private sector, public solutions and formally trained researchers in agriculture––have created groundbreaking innovations address grand challenges?

4. How can we harness current innovations, knowledge generation process, and evidence to improve food and nutrition security?

5. How can small-scale innovative ideas be better shared with people around the world?

6. What areas of research are lacking in the quest to make sustainable agricultural innovations?

7. What resources do you use (people, institutions, tools, etc.) to create your own local, sustainable food system?

We look forward to engaging in conversation with you! Send your responses directly to

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