Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Matthew Krause (FTF-PI), Private Sector Engagement Tools

At the 2014 Scaling Up Adoption and Use of Agricultural Technologies GLEE in Bangkok, Thailand, participants got a chance to attend an innovative session that focused on "Decision-Making to Define and Select Effective Pathways." The session was organized using a "bus stop" approach, which was designed to be lively and interactive, and provided maximum space for discussions and networking. Below is a recorded bus stop and a set of questions and answers from the presenter.

What decision does the tool support in designing a scaling-up pathway?

Through Mission partnership engagement, we reduce the risks and accelerate the process for USAID Missions to engage private sector partners in support of food security objectives and programs, including commercialization of technologies.

What is the tool and briefly, how does it work?

Partnering for Innovation offers assistance for partnership development, assessing technology gaps along priority value chains, evaluating private sector providers of FTF assistance, and inviting new partners to work with Missions to fill these gaps. The program runs a competitive application process for technology commercialization and partnership agreements that creates incentives for private sector co-investment in FTF programs. We leverage USAID funding by using a performance-based grant mechanism to measure progress based on meeting business metrics such as sales, production, and employment generation. Partnering for Innovation’s assistance to Missions includes private sector and technology landscape analysis, drafting and releasing solicitations, collecting and evaluating applications, conducting due diligence and negotiating awards, and managing partnership implementation.

What are the strengths and weaknesses, and tradeoffs in using this tool?

Working closely with Mission staff, we help identify the objectives of the private sector engagement effort; develop criteria for selection; conduct solicitations, and jointly evaluate and select successful partners. Advantages of this process include more rapid identification and selection of partners, additional surge support to manage the partnership development process, and management of implementation and results monitoring.

What does this tool tell you about the potential for scaling up or setting targets?

The Partnering for Innovation team can offer support to the Mission to analyze where and how to engage the private sector to commercialize technologies. Upon selection of one or more private sector partners, results metrics are then clearly defined and negotiated at the onset, and a performance-based incentive system is put in place that conform to shared objectives.

What is the approximate cost and time needed to use this tool?

The cost and time are contingent upon the complexity and the scale of the deal. Partnering for innovation can create a targeted pilot project with one or two partners in a matter of weeks. It can be funded and create impact in as little as six months. Larger and more complex partnerships can take several months to negotiate and begin implementation. Technical assistance to Missions is centrally funded. Mission resources are necessary when opening a solicitation window for Mission-specific partnerships.

What can the tool indicate about the sustainability of adoption or the likelihood of sustained long-term us of the technology?

The business model of any partnership engagement is critical to its success. All Partnering for Innovation grants help grantees achieve sustainability by the end of the award period. Since payments are milestone-based, costs to the program are contingent upon success of the implementation. This reduces the risk to the Mission should the partner not perform according to the terms of the agreement.

Matthew Krause (MKrause@fintrac.com) is the Commercial Partnership Development Lead for the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program. He is responsible for identifying and developing program partner alliances that improve access of agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers. An extensive 20-year career in both commercial business and international development program leadership, including more than 13 years in Asia leading agriculture development-oriented programs and serving as a private sector business consultant.