BACKGROUND ON THE INNOVATION FACILITY ANNOUNCEMENT
Background Information on the CTJ Project
USAID Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity in Central Asia (hereafter abbreviated CTJ) is a five-year (2016-2021) project focused on increasing the competitiveness of Central Asian economies and creating jobs. CTJ focuses on three primary sectors: 1) Horticultural; 2) Transportation & Logistics and 3) Tourism and works with governments and private sector firms to facilitate the removal of barriers that impede trade and timely delivery of quality goods and services.
The CTJ project is implemented in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and maintains an office in each country.
What is the Innovation Facility?
The Innovation Facility is a fund established to incentivize partners to undertake innovative initiatives in the horticulture, transportation & logistics, and tourism sectors in order to increase their export potential, grow their business and create jobs. The innovation facility fund is meant to help buy-down and mitigate some of the risk inherent in adapting to new processes or adopting disruptive technologies. CTJ’s Innovation Facility requires a minimum of a 1:1 monetary contribution. This means that if a partner proposes a $30,000 innovation, then the partner must pay at least 50% or $15,000. Please take into consideration that operational expenses and other current expenditures of the applicant (e.g. rent, salary, accounting and office expenses, etc.) cannot be considered as part of contribution. The 50% co-investment should be the applicant’s own funds or bank loan (to demonstrate that the partner is also willing to take on some risk).
CTJ anticipates its contribution to the majority of selected projects will range between $50,000 to $100,000 per project. However, smaller requests will be considered and for exceptional proposals, CTJ will consider requests that are more than $100,000.
What Does This Innovation Facility Announcement Do?
This Innovation Facility Announcement (IFA) informs potential partners about the key areas and objectives in which CTJ is seeking innovative solutions. The IFA seeks to engage potential partners through “Innovation Concept Notes” that propose innovative approaches to address the opportunities and constraints associated with expanding regional and international horticultural trade, improving transportation and logistics, and increasing tourism to the countries of Central Asia. Those eligible entities who respond to the announcement (“Responders”) may propose a range of new initiatives or their ideas for scaling up existing activities that have already demonstrated success.
Monthly Review of Concept Notes
All concept notes will be reviewed at the end of each month on an ongoing basis. Concept notes received by the 25th of each month will be reviewed within the first two weeks of the next month. At the discretion of CTJ, concept notes received but not selected during an earlier period may be re-considered on a rolling basis during subsequent monthly evaluations.
The number of innovation partner agreements and available funding is subject to change and CTJ reserves the right not to enter into an Innovation Partnership Agreement or not to provide any support as a result of this IFA. Given the limited budget and CTJ’s ability to approve an application and develop an Innovation Partnership Agreement at any time during the submission period, it is in the interest of all applicants to apply as early as possible during the submission period to increase their chance of selection.
General Examples of the Activities That Might Be Supported
Activities should relate to CTJ target sectors, i.e. horticulture, transport and logistics, and tourism. Activities can be involved in enhancing any stage of the value chain from production to after-sales service. Below are some illustrative examples of activities:
This IFA may be updated during the course of the year to respond to evolving market conditions. Innovation Concept Notes are accepted on a rolling basis.
INSTRUCTIONS – HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS ANNOUNCEMENT
CTJ invites interested eligible organizations to submit Innovation Concept Notes that propose actionable solutions to overcome key constraints associated with intra-regional or international export of horticultural goods, transportation & logistics, or tourism in Central Asia.
For the purposes of the Innovation Facility Announcement, the term “Central Asia” refers only to the following five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Only Central Asian entities (private sector organizations, businesses, NGOs, foundations, government research institutions or other relevant agencies, universities, associations, producer groups and/or cooperatives, etc.) legally formed, registered and operating in accordance with the laws of the Central Asian country/countries they are registered, are eligible to respond to the announcement.
Responders to the innovation facility announcements must also have been in operations for at least three years and be willing and able to co-invest / a minimum of 50% of the cost of the proposed innovation.
Priority will be given to:
The following entities are not eligible for consideration:
INNOVATION CONCEPT NOTE
Applicants initiate the selection process by emailing an Innovation Concept Note to CTJ.
Applicants shall apply using the Innovation Concept Note Template available at www.catradeforum.org/innovation and answer all questions within the form.
Concept Notes shall be completed in MS Word document format, single-spaced, in Times New Roman 11 point font with a minimum of 1-inch margins. The Concept Note should not exceed four pages.
Innovation Concept Notes over four pages may be excluded.
Submission of a Concept Note is the first step in the process. Only responders whose concept notes are selected and approved will be invited to co-create a full Innovation Partnership Agreement with CTJ (e.g. which will include roles and responsibilities of the Innovation Partnership, including milestones).
Please include the name and contact details of your organization’s representative in the Innovation Concept Note. If your organization’s Innovation Concept Note is chosen to move to the next step, your named representative will be notified and asked to provide additional information to satisfy due diligence requirements.
Note: Organizations who have received substantial assistance from USAID and other donors but have not demonstrated positive results are not encouraged to apply.
Concept Notes shall be submitted by email to CTJ_concept@dai.com, сopy Irina_Ivanova@dai.com.
Please follow the link to download the template for Innovation Concept Note from www.catradeforum.org/innovation
Criteria for Evaluating Concept Notes
Applicants shall demonstrate how their proposed activity will contribute to the goals and objectives of the Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs project. In addition to the minimum eligibility criteria above, Concept Notes will be evaluated against the criteria in outlined below.
Concept Notes will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Conformity to CTJ’s Project Objectives – Does the concept propose new solutions to improve Transportation & Logistics, increase horticultural exports or increase the number of tourists?
Technical Approach - Is the technical approach feasible in the given time period with the given resources? Is the technical approach innovative? Will the technical approach facilitate market-driven solutions?
Partner readiness to co-invest at least 50% into the proposed activity/project - Does your concept demonstrate a willingness to invest your own money and take on some of the risks?
Sustainability Analysis - What is the likelihood that the activities will be sustainable over the long term without continued external support?
Questions and Answers
Any questions concerning this IFA can be submitted by e-mail to CTJ_concept@dai.com on a rolling basis. Frequently Asked Questions and answers will be posted on www.catradeforum.org/innovation.
CTJ’s Innovation Review Panel is comprised of members of the project’s management and technical team. Each month, the Innovation Review Panel evaluates and scores the submissions. If your organization’s innovative idea is selected, CTJ shall seek approval from USAID to advance your idea to the next step – development of an Innovation Partnership Agreement. Please note: even though Concept Notes are reviewed each month, the entire process (from submission to CTJ’s procurement of technical assistance or equipment) can take several months depending on the complexity of the concept note and USAID rules and regulations.
If the Innovation Concept Note is selected and approved, CTJ will set up 1-2 initial partnership meetings with your organization to conduct due diligence, discuss the Innovation Concept Note, and co-develop an Innovation Partnership Agreement. The IPA is a binding agreement that includes the business model or overarching strategy, how CTJ will support your organization (e.g. procurement of goods or services) and the general roles and responsibilities, milestones and period of performance of the partnership. Please note during the initial partnership meetings your organization will be asked to provide financial information (e.g. balance sheet, profit & loss report for past two years) in order to demonstrate financial solvency.
Please note: The CTJ project cannot provide grants or direct cash funds, but can use Innovation Facility funds to procure goods or services on behalf of selected Innovation Partners.