Anchoring innovation methodologies to ‘go-to-scale’; a framework to guide agricultural research for development

Seifu, Mikinay; Paassen, Annemarie van; Klerkx, Laurens; Leeuwis, Cees


Research for development (R4D) projects increasingly engage in multi-stakeholder innovation platforms (IPs) as an innovation methodology, but there is limited knowledge of how the IP methodology spreads from one context to another. That is, how experimentation with an IP approach in one context leads to it being succesfully replicated in other contexts. To inspire development actors to consider the fit of an innovation methodology for a context, following work on anchoring for scaling, we developed a framework for networking-, methodological, and institutional anchoring and applied it to a R4D IP in order to test the value of such an anchoring approach for understanding the scaling of innovation methodologies such as IP. We selected a R4D project with a Farmer Research Group-Innovation Platform in Ethiopia, whose technical output and methodological approach were greatly appreciated by the actors involved. Using the anchoring framework, the executed or non-executed tasks were identified. Besides, the embedding of the methodological experiment the potential up-scaling and out-scaling were systematically analyzed. The analysis yielded the strengths and weaknesses of the anchoring work done so far to scale the innovation methodology used, and provided concrete suggestions of how to proceed if an innovation project considers ‘going to scale’. We recommend R4D projects to valorize their work and pay more explicit attention to anchoring. With a flexible, multi-pronged anchoring approach and continuous scanning of the progress made in context, more R4D projects and their associated innovation methodologies can ‘go to scale’.