Innovation Calls in Development Cooperation

On you find innovation calls and projects that make an impactful contribution to development cooperation.

How can a society foster innovation? How are smart solutions created and implemented? So called “Innovation calls”, competitive grants for the development of innovations, are a common practice to tackle complex societal issues and strengthen innovative ecosystems. Discover some examples of innovation calls and how you can participate.

Organisations that try to introduce novelties or revolutionise their field are hardly having an easy time. Without a supportive ecosystem, the most ingenious idea will fail. This is why the public sector holds a key role for spurring innovation. Government agencies have a wide range of tools at their disposal to promote the ecosystem and help innovators succeed: Based on political priorities, they can strengthen education in schools and universities, provide business trainings and networks, adapt taxes, create community centers for innovators, supply free office space, entertain low- level or high-level competitions, provide funding for research and development or invest in products or technologies, and many more.

What are innovation calls?

A popular instrument for the public sector to support specific industries, technologies or groups of innovators are innovation calls. In contrast to other types of subsidies, innovation calls are one-time interventions that open up an opportunity for innovators to gain financial, technical or processual support. In international development cooperation, programmes around the world make use of innovation calls to find and support exceptional innovations. Popular examples at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH are the lab of tomorrow, the GIZ Accelerator Program for Climate Change Innovations or the Fund for the Promotion of Innovation in Agriculture (i4Ag). Via alone, over 30 innovation calls have been registered since 2019.

What is required to participate?

Organisations that participate in a call for innovation submit descriptions of their proposal, product, service or invention, proof of their eligibility and other supporting documents until a given submission deadline. The specific requirements can differ between programmes and should be read before submission.

What happens after the proposal is accepted?

After being selected for the programme, the grantee and the respective public sector institution usually enter in a contractual agreement. This contract defines the type and extend of support by the public sector and obligations by the company and is at the core of this “public-private-partnership” (or other type of partnership, in case the applicant is not a private company, e.g. NGOs, research institutions etc.) Information about the type of contract is published together with the call for innovation and can be inquired upon before submission.

Examples for innovation calls on

Currently, two calls for innovation are run via With H2Uppp, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action is looking for innovative companies based in Germany and Europe to pursue a public-private partnership in green hydrogen. In Tunesia, the AI Hub Tunesia seeks to financially support start-ups and SMEs specialised in AI.

Call for proposals: H2-Uppp Promotion of green hydrogen and its derivatives in emerging and developing countries

Who: Green Hydrogen companies based in Germany and Europe

Where: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, South Africa, Ukraine and Uruguay.

What: H2-Uppp supports Public-Private-Partnerships along the complete H2/PtX value chain (i.e. production, conversion, storage, transport and use) that contribute to the development of hydrogen markets in the partner country.

Support: Depends on the mode of cooperation. In a cooperation agreement, up to €2,000,000 worth of measures can be supplied by the public. In a service agreement, the company can receive financial compensation for services previously agreed upon up to €200,000. In both cases, the company itself must contribute at least 50% of the project costs.

When: Apply until 20.12.2022

How: You can find more information and apply here: H2-Uppp.

Call for applications: Tunisian startups and SMEs specialising in solutions powered by artificial intelligence wanted

Who: Startups and SMEs based in Tunisia, specialised in applications of Artificial Intelligences

Where: Tunisia

What: Tunisian startups or SMEs with AI expertise will be invited to submit their proposals for innovative AI solutions that seek to solve a concrete problem of a private company or public organisation. Innovations may involve radical new AI solutions or combine AI solutions that mobilise existing AI for new applications.

Support: The selected applications will benefit from a financing of the AI solution up to 24.000 TND and from a personalised accompaniment to facilitate the integration of their solution in the potential beneficiary.

When: Apply until 04.10.2022

How: You can find more information and apply here: Tunisian startups and SMEs wanted.

Detailed information about the specific benefits and requirements of innovation calls on can be found on the respective page of the innovation call.

Copyright for the images: Kai Gradert, Unsplash, 2022 Patrick Perkins, 2022

Toast content has launched a special call supporting companies in Ukraine and Moldova, as well as civil society organisations in Germany. Find out more on the special pages.