5 reasons to take AgriFood research from lab to market via the CGIAR Investor Readiness Program

Willing to bet on a more sustainable future? Agricultural and food research is one of the best investments we can make. Today’s world faces multi-dimensional challenges as climate and biodiversity crises escalate. Global food insecurity has risen due in part to climate change’s impact on crop yield. Crop failure has already disproportionately impacted impoverished communities, with 80% of the global population at risk living in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Beyond this, our food system is a big part of the problem, contributing more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. With the world’s population predicted to reach 9.71 billion by 2050, finding sustainable solutions within our agriculture and food systems is more critical than ever.

Scientists working across the globe have taken on the challenge, developing groundbreaking technologies to transform our food systems. As seen during COP27, climate finance and adaptation, especially for the global south, is crucial. Global research partnership CGIAR is leading the charge, transforming the lives of hundreds of millions through tangible research outcomes.  

It’s our responsibility as economic, political, and civic actors to invest responsibly, leveraging AgriFood research toward a future worth betting on. Here are some reasons why: 

CGIAR already has the resources 

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future dedicated to transforming food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis. Thanks to their impressive roster of funders — including 3,000 partners from national governments, multilateral funding and development agencies, and leading private foundations –  CGIAR has an annual research portfolio of just over US$900 million. With 13 research centers, and 8000+ scientists across 100+ countries, they are already producing some of the world’s most innovative agricultural research. 

CGIAR’s research portfolio holds enormous potential for a sustainable future

CGIAR has a long history within agricultural research, leveraging more than 50 years of experience and knowledge to build towards a greener future. They are committed to finding solutions for the people most vulnerable to a changing climate; by touching on issues related to climate adaptation, environmental health, food security, social inclusion, and poverty reduction, CGIAR’s agricultural research has the potential to unlock unprecedented progress toward sustainable  development goals. 

Game-changing research isn’t making it to market – yet

As of now, much of this research is stuck in the pre-commercial or conceptual phase, capping its reach, such that the capacity of the research for driving powerful impact is left unrealized. Accelerating innovations in sustainable agriculture and climate action will demand coordinated efforts at all levels: not only financing, but also technical assistance, market expertise, and collaborations to ensure a pathway beyond the lab. CGIAR scientists are already seeking ways to accelerate their own work, and the organization is institutionalizing innovation activities and an entrepreneurial spirit through work like that of the Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP), CGIAR’s Venture Space that bridges science and entrepreneurship to co-design, accelerate, and fund market-driven and multidisciplinary innovations at the nexus of agriculture, environment, and health. 

An acceleration program can streamline progress, delivering innovative solutions within AgriFood 

Partnerships that bridge science with market will be crucial to equip innovators with the tools, know-how, and funds necessary to scale their solutions. In this vein, CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform is partnering with Rockstart to forge a path forward, identifying clear mechanisms to systematically scout and accelerate CGIAR’s top innovations in agricultural research with the greatest market potential. An Investor Readiness Program will combine the insights of CGIAR scientists with Rockstart’s industry knowledge and expertise in streamlining and investing in startups – equipping scientists who continue to break new ground with the support they need to increase their solutions’ growth potential beyond the lab. The Investor Readiness Program will accelerate high-impact projects with the potential to gear food systems toward a sustainable future.  Rockstart, an early stage investor and accelerator with more than a decade of experience empowering early stage  purpose-driven founders, offers expertise  as one of the most active AgriFood investors in the world. Via the AgriFood fund, one of its three funds, Rockstart has invested in more than 40 companies since 2019 with 37 investments in 2022 alone, and Rockstart AgriFood portfolio companies have collectively raised more than €40m in total thus far. 

Accelerating AgriFood research can strengthen climate resilience

Closing the gap between research and development to boost the positive impact of agricultural research is firmly aligned with both CGIAR and Rockstart’s sustainability goals:

“At CGIAR, we are adopting market driven approaches to equip and fund prodigious scientists to scale transformative research responding to increasingly complex challenges around climate change and food insecurity. CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform recognizes the critical opportunity of partnering with the innovation ecosystem including accelerators and venture funds like Rockstart to bridge science and entrepreneurship to drive transformative change”. Gianpiero Menza, Senior Manager Partnerships & Innovative Finance, Alliance/CGIAR

“Unlocking the incredible potential of CGIAR’s research portfolio would serve as a step forward in transforming the AgriFood industry for a greener future. Launching an Investor Readiness Program to leverage this untapped resource would allow us to strengthen CGIAR’s goal to deliver solutions for sustainable agriculture while furthering our mission to empower founders driving positive change on a global scale”.  Rune Theill, Co-Founder & CEO, Rockstart

Researchers at CGIAR are making huge strides towards a sustainable transition within AgriFood. Scaling cutting-edge solutions via an acceleration program means getting this exceptional know-how into the hands of those who need it most. After all, CGIAR and Rockstart have the same goal in mind: building a future worth betting on. 

Interested to learn more? Read about CGIAR’s work and follow the Rockstart blog and Newsroom to stay up to date.

To learn more about CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform: innovations@cgiar.org