South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub
The South and Southeast Asia region has seen remarkable economic growth in the past two decades, leading to a projected decrease of 13 million undernourished people between 2015 and 2024. However, this progress is not uniformly spread over the region; as of 2015, around 60 million people remained malnourished and poverty rates in several countries exceeded 40 percent. Meanwhile, food production often involves traditional or intensive energy and water uses that exacerbate climate change, depletion of natural resources and biodiversity loss. In order to address these issues, private enterprises have already developed a bevy of approaches and technologies for climate-friendly, water- and energy-efficient agricultural processes. These innovators, however, often have insufficient entrepreneurial capacities to successfully and sustainably scale up developed prototypes, access catalytic investment, integrate gender into their operations, or engage with policy and regulation environments.
The South and Southeast (S/SE) Asia Regional Innovation Hub supports the scaling-up of climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable, energy and/or water-efficient innovations in the water-energy-food (WE4F) nexus across the region, with a focus on women and the poor. Innovations include technologies, business and finance models and new modes of cooperation. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the RIH supports innovators in 16 countries.
By 2024, we aim to:
- Identify and fund at least 40 total WE4F innovators across the region;
- Support innovators in reaching a minimum of 1 smallholder farmers and other end users, including 250,000 women;
- Help farmers increase food production while increasing water and energy efficiencies;
- Increase investment to innovators by at least $20 million; and
- Enhance the enabling environment for WE4F innovations through advocacy and capacity building activities.
We aim to support the scaling up private sector innovations through the use of grants. To do this, we will issue regular, competitive calls for innovations that are open to companies that operate in at least two components of the WE4F nexus and work in any of the 16 countries. Those who onboard as a WE4F innovator receive a grant, technical assistance, investment facilitation and enabling environment support. We will also support select innovators from the Asia EDGE Ag-Energy Prize and predecessor programs Securing Water for Food and Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge.
We will identify WE4F innovators’ technical assistance needs and mobilize resources to provide relevant support. This includes assistance to improve business performance to increase investment potential, advise on product quality, market fit and regulatory compliance, incorporate environmental and social governance principles, and comply with grant agreement terms.
We will provide WE4F innovators with comprehensive investment facilitation services with the objective of thoroughly preparing them for and introducing them to third-party providers of risk capital. We will work to facilitate deal origination, investor due diligence, deal structuring and negotiation and, where appropriate and feasible, post-investment value creation and realization. Our team will also support the development of investment marketing materials and financial models, and coach innovator management teams.
Enabling environment activities are pivotal to scaling innovations, since they can ease business operations, attract private sector partners, and help facilitate access to innovations for end-users. We will work to improve enabling environments in national and regional frameworks that inhibit innovator growth, investment transactions and/or end-user access by promoting ease of doing business, stimulating market growth through incentives, recognizing and rewarding product quality, and strengthening partnerships with governments and industry associations.
One of the main advantages of the global structure of WE4F is that lessons learned can be shared around the world, success stories can be adapted and replicated in different contexts, and knowledge exchanges and study tours can easily be organized. The S/SE Asia Hub will work closely with other WE4F Hubs and our partners to share lessons learned based on innovator experiences and create and operate global knowledge platforms for the benefit of the wider development community.