2021 Regional Call for Innovations

DEADLINE EXTENSION: The deadline for submission is November 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM GMT+7 (Bangkok time). We strongly encourage you to submit your application as soon as it is ready.

The S/SEA RIH is proud to announce the second Call for Innovations. Companies, nonprofits with a for-profit program, and other organizations working on water-food, energy-food, and water-energy-food innovations are invited to apply. The winning organizations will receive customized support in the form of grants, business model support, and investment facilitation.  

Together with the S/SEA RIH, winners can scale their innovations and impact food security, gender equality, environmental sustainability, climate resilience and adaptation, and poverty reduction. 

Why Apply?

Join a network of innovative game-changing entrepreneurs

  • Winners will be part of an extensive network and introduced to various partners, mentors, and service providers to help them achieve their expansion goals.   
  • They will also have access to an exclusive learning community where they can exchange ideas with their cohort peers in the cohort and other Regional Innovation Hubs through regular workshops and meetings.

Receive business model support and investment facilitation

  • Receive support to expand the business to other geographies, products, or services 
  • Attract and secure external investors by working with S/SEA RIH’s Brokering Unit.
  • Examples of support categories:
    • Investment readiness
    • Commercial expansion
    • Marketing and communication
    • Digitalization and technology enhancement

Unlock grant funding to help your innovation grow

Select organizations may qualify for grants to help achieve scaling goals, funding size ranges from $25,000 to $200,000 USD.

What We’re Looking For

WE4F is looking for mid- to late-stage enterprises, nonprofits with a for-profit program, and other organizations based in South and Southeast Asia, who have innovative water-food, energy-food, and water-energy-food solutions. Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements to participate in this call for innovation.

Women-owned and women-led organizations are encouraged to apply.


WE4F is open to legally incorporated/registered for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations or academic institutions which are responsible for generating revenue and maintaining a self-sustaining operational budget. 


WE4F is open to all relevant organizations/companies which are ready to scale. We encourage applications from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 



Applicants must be legally incorporated in one of 15 countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam.

If expansion into a new country is a key part of an applicant’s business plan, they must already have partners in place in that country to be considered.  


Applications responses must be written in English.


Applicants should be open and willing to contribute the matching funds to the overall award, if grant is awarded. The final amount of matching funds will be determined on a case-by-case basis for each applicant near the time of award.


Applicants’ innovations must have a direct, tangible linkage to water-food, energy-food, or water-energy-food. In addition, innovations must directly or indirectly impact poverty reduction and gender equality, and  have a positive impact on the environment and avoid negative environmental effects.

How to Apply

  1. Review the solicitation document.
  2. Review the eligibility criteria.
  3. Create an account on SMApply.
  4. Watch the step-by-step application video.
  5. Answer thecomplete list of application questions. All applications must be submitted via the application portal.  Submissions via email or any other medium will not be accepted. 
  6. Applicants can save their progress on the application form by clicking on the “Save & continue editing” icon at the bottom of the application. Please note that the application must be submitted before the deadline. 
  7. All questions marked with * are mandatory, please ensure you fill them before submitting the application. 
  8. The deadline for submission is November 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM GMT+7 (Bangkok time).We strongly encourage you to submit your application as soon as it is ready.
  9. In case you have any questions about the application or are facing any technical challenges with the application portal, please contact us at WE4FAsiaBids@tetratech.com. 

Application Process and Timeline

October 4, 2021  Application Launch 
October 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM GMT+7 (Bangkok time)  Deadline for submitting written questions 
October 21, 2021 at 10:00 – 11:00 AM GMT+7 (Bangkok time)  Q&A webinar for concept note applicants 
November 19, at 5:00 PM GMT+7 (Bangkok time)  Deadline for submitting applications 
Last week of November Top applications are notified to proceed to full proposal stage 
December 9, 2021, at 10:00 – 11:00 AM GMT+7 (Bangkok time)  Q&A webinar for full-proposal applicants 
December 22, 2021, at 5:00 PM GMT+7 (Bangkok time)  Full-proposal application closed 
January 2022  Applications evaluated and scored against a set criteria 
February 1-18, 2022  Interview and pitch to expert panel 
March 2022  Cohort approval and awardees bootcamp 
April 2022  Completion of required documents and approval by Secretariat and Steering Committee  
April 2022  Awards made to top applicants 

Application Resources

  • Could applicants submit a proposal as a consortium, or should there be a “lead” applicant? If consortium allowed, do all the parties of the consortium have to be legally registered in one of the countries indicated in the list or only one party is sufficient?
    • Consortiums are allowed to submit a proposal. Each organization’s role should be clearly defined. There should be a lead applicant that would sign the contract upon award. Where joint partnerships include innovators from low-and middle-income countries, we encourage the partnership to designate the low- and middle-income country partner as the Project Manager. 
    • The organization that submits the application should be a legally registered entity in at least one of the target countries. Or the organization should have at least one local partner that is registered to work in the country(ies) of implementation. This local partner could be a commercial or NGO partner, joint venture partner or candidate for a merger or acquisition. 
  • Can I submit a proposal in collaboration with researchers from other countries listed in the call (e.g. India, Thailand & Singapore)? 
    • A private business is eligible to apply or a non-profit or university team that maintain its own budget and is responsible for generating revenue that have as the primary or a major part of their business model an innovative product or service that addresses the water-energy-food nexus companies.
  • Is collaboration partner encouraged or preference is for individual applicants? 
    • While there is no requirement for partnerships, collaboration is encouraged especially with local organizations based in any of the 16 target countries. 
  • Can nonprofit organizations that raise their revenue through grants and other income generation activities (eg. selling of merchandise etc.) eligible to apply for this grant? Please clarify.
    • WE4F aims to support private sector-led innovations. Besides private companies, the WE4F Asia Hub will support non-profit or academic teams that maintain their own budget and are responsible for generating revenue that have as the primary or a major part of their business model an innovative product or service that addresses the nexus of water-energy-food. If an organization meets these requirements, it is eligible to apply. 
  • Can we apply with multiple proposals (with different related entities)? 
    • Applicants may submit up to 3 concept notes.
  • Could you please indicate whether there is a preference for innovations focused on smallholder farming or on commercial/industrial farming? 
    • WE4F expects to prioritize support for innovations that target poor women and men smallholder farmers and others working in all parts of the agriculture value chain. Please see Section I – 1C: Target Groups of the WE4F Grand Challenge for more information.
  • Could you please indicate how important is the women-led factor for the focus of the innovations proposed? The agriculture sector is generally man-dominated. 
    • Broadly, gender equality is a central theme of WE4F that is of high importance that will be specifically sought after in concept note review. A women-led team can be reflected in the innovator’s leadership team’s (upper management, founders, or key team players) experience in the nexus or relevant sectors. WE4F will give preference to women-owned/women-led organizations and developing country entrepreneurs.
  • Could you please elaborate and provide illustrations on the ESG principles (cf. gender mainstreaming, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability) to be respected as a minimum to be eligible for the support? 
    • As per the guiding principles for ESG adherence in WE4F, we actively incorporate ESG issues into decision-making processes, program operating structure and standard practices. 
    • Innovators must have a basic understanding of ESG issues and show a strong commitment to ESG integration into their business model. WE4F innovators are classified into one of three levels of ESG integration in their business model: beginner, intermediate and advanced. 
  • Could you please provide more details on the minimum level of cost contribution expected from the project team (i.e. the matching funds)? 
    • Matching (whether in-kind or cash/cash equivalent) will be based on funding provided by WE4F, not the total project budget and the final amount of matching funds will be determined on a case-by-case basis for each applicant. Providing matching details is not required for the concept note stage.
  • What type of activities are funded?  
    • WE4F is looking to provide grants, technical assistance and/or investment facilitation support to commercially proven products, services or business models. Please see Section II Eligibility criteria for more details on what types of products, services or business models are eligible. 
  • Would a stage of testing and positioning (of business model) for scale be relevant or should it be at a stage of proven scale with profitable and repeatable business model? 
    • WE4F is looking to support proven innovations: mature products, services and business models that have demonstrated potential for scaling. This does not include supporting ideas for a development project but no track record for successful sales. 
  • Can you clarify: Award(s) will range from $25,000 to $200,000 USD? Is this the amount WE4F consider investing? 
    • The award range from $25,000 to  $200,000 USD is the value of the “grant” award that is possible to receive from the WE4F S/SE Asia Hub. In addition, the selected organizations can also receive other forms of technical support which includes technical assistance, enabling environment support and investment facilitation depends on needs and business requirements. Please see Section I – 5B Technical Assistance Support for more detail. 

This Q&A webinar was for candidates during the 2021 Call for Innovations. You can view the Q&A document here.

You can view the slide deck here. 

Thinking about applying to a Call for Innovations in South and Southeast Asia? Then watch this webinar to learn about the program’s environmental requirements and compliance.

This Q&A webinar was for the Semi-finalist candidates during the 2021 Call for Innovations. You can view the Q&A document here.

Gham Power, Nepal
Sumba Sustainable Solutions, Indonesia
Oorja, India
Khmer Green Coal, Cambodia

Past Calls for Innovations and Prizes

2020 Call for Innovations

The South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub (S/SEA RIH) proudly announces its first call for innovations.

DUE DATE: Concept Notes shall be received no sooner than November 03, 2020 and no later than December 15, 2020 at 5:00 PM GMT+7 .

Applicants should retain a copy of their proposals and accompanying uploaded documents for their records.

QUESTIONS: Prospective Applicants who have questions concerning the contents of this Call for Innovations must submit them in writing no later than November 16, 2020 at 5:00 PM GMT+7 to WE4FAsiaBids@tetratech.com.

Question and Answer Webinar

Asia EDGE Ag-Energy Prize


The Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (EDGE) Ag-Energy Prize seeks business owners and entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia with game-changing innovations operating at the nexus of renewable energy, and agriculture.

The prize competition will spur, recognize, and reward outstanding enterprises from both youth innovators and mid-stage businesses in the Southeast Asian footprint. The prize competition aims to:

  1. Identify and fund promising innovators at the nexus of renewable energy and agriculture;
  2. Explore market activity about the nature, progress, and scale of small and growing enterprises in the region; and
  3. Improve awareness of WE4F and Asia EDGE development initiatives among the business community.

The Prize is open to mid-stage businesses and youth innovators. Applicants will be judged on their understanding of the problems within the sector, the potential social impact of their innovation, the viability of their business model, and their ability to target markets at the base of the pyramid.


The Prize includes a $345,000 cash prize purse for winners and runners-up, travel sponsorship to participate in the Clean Asia Energy Forum in Manila, the Philippines in June 2020, and customized acceleration services from the WE4F Asia Regional Hub.

In addition, 10 mid-stage and 5 youth innovator prize finalists will benefit from recognition on the WE4F website, communications materials, and travel support to participate in a co-creation workshop in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2020 to discuss challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy, and agriculture nexus in Asia.


Mid-Stage Enterprises Eligibility 

  • To be eligible for the mid-stage prize, enterprises must have existing services or products in the renewable energy – agriculture nexus. Enterprises with unit costs of $100 or less must have a minimum of 2,500 customers; while enterprises with a unit cost of greater than $100 must have a minimum of 1,000 customers to be eligible.

Youth Innovators Prize

  • For the Youth Innovators Prize, applicants must be under the age of 30 with a pre-revenue or post-revenue business model innovation in the renewable energy – agriculture nexus. The company must have a working prototype or minimum viable product along with a demonstrated BOP market segment being targeted, and be registered and operating within the countries in section.


Applicants will be judged on:

  • Understanding of the problems within the sector
  • Potential social impact of their innovation
  • Viability of the business plan
  • Ability to target markets on the base of the pyramid



The open application period for the WE4F Asia EDGE Ag-Energy Prize has now closed.


To access the recording of the Informational Webinar that was hosted on January 7th, click the following link for the recording.

To access the transcription of the Informational Webinar that was hosted on January 7th, click the following link for the transcript. 



WE4F is a joint international initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Announced at World Water Week 2018 and launched at Social Capital Markets 2019 signature event in San Francisco, CaliforniaWE4F aims to: 

  • Increase food production along the value chain through a more sustainable and efficient usage of water and/or energy. 
  • Increase income for base of the pyramid women and men in both rural and urban areas.  
  • Sustainably scale innovators’ solutions to meet the challenges in the WE4F nexus. 
  • Promote climate and environmental resilience and biodiversity through the sustainable, holistic management of natural resources and ecosystems.