Skip to main content

Strengthening inclusive science and innovation systems in the Americas

A female scientist looks at a microscope
Artem Podrez / Pexels
This funding opportunity seeks to strengthen science, technology and innovation (STI) in Latin America and the Caribbean to foster the region’s development, by supporting 1) regional collaboration for research and policy uptake; 2) inclusive STI; and 3) strong granting councils and regional coordination agencies.


Background and rationale  

IDRC programming approach 



The opportunity

Scope of the call  

Stream 1: Enhancing regional collaboration through joint research and researcher mobility, with a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations 

Stream 2: Strengthening the capacity of national SGCs and regional science coordination bodies to deliver on priorities and enhance national and regional STI systems  


Basic consortium requirements  

Consortium design and profiles 

Submission requirements 

Process and timelines 

Evaluation process 


IDRC policies and requirements 

General granting policies and procedures  

Permission for use and disclosure of information 

Contact information 

Appendix I: Theoretical framework and background for action 

A strong and resilient STI landscape in LAC  

Science granting councils and regional collaboration 

Inclusivity in STI and in STI systems 


Description of the initiative


Aims: This funding opportunity seeks to strengthen science, technology and innovation (STI) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to foster the region’s development, by supporting 1) regional collaboration for research and policy uptake; 2) inclusive STI; and 3) strong granting councils and regional coordination agencies. 

Areas of focus: The funding opportunity is divided into two main streams: 1) Supporting collaborative research in LAC, in partnership with science granting councils (SGCs), with an emphasis on mainstreaming gender and inclusion across all activities; and 2) Supporting capacity-strengthening activities that enable SGCs and regional science coordination bodies to effectively deliver on mandates and enhance national and regional STI systems.  

Both streams are to be assessed separately through this call for proposals, but each successful team from each stream is expected to collaborate and ensure regular communications between each other, as well as with other IDRC partners working in this field in LAC. 

Eligibility:This funding opportunity aims to support primarily LAC-based organizations, or in most cases consortia of organizations, which include NGOs, think tanks, universities, public research centres as well as national and regional governmental organizations. See the full call document for further details.  

Approach: This is a two-stage competitive call, whereby consortia will be invited to submit Expressions of Interest (EOIs). Successful applicants at the EOI stage will be invited to submit full proposals. 

Scope: The funding opportunity covers all countries in LAC, with particular emphasis on low- and middle- income countries (LMICs)[2] and countries whose key science structures (SGCs, ministries of science or equivalent) are undergoing a significant transformation (e.g., setting up granting programs, expanding mandates, developing or implementing new legislation, undergoing major policy changes). 

Budget: Consortia applying to Stream 1 may request up to CAD5 million over 4 or 5 years. Consortia applying to Stream 2 may request up to CAD1.5 million over 3 years.  

Background and rationale 2

Strengthening STI systems and making them more inclusive responds to a clear opportunity that can be articulated on three different levels: 

  1. A strong and resilient STI landscape in LAC. Science, technology and innovation are widely recognized to play a key role in addressing regional and global problems, yet national and regional structures often lack sufficient funds, mandate or capacity to make a significant contribution, despite a strong desire to do so. There is an opportunity to enable key organizations to work together to enhance their capacity, and that of their researchers, and provide sustainable support to help the STI community play a transformative role in their regional development. 

  1. SGCs and regional collaboration. Within the political economy of national science systems, SGCs and regional science coordination bodies often play a key role, both within the political sphere of a country, and within its scientific community. With STI being increasingly global in terms of the way it is done and the problems it tackles, these bodies, like academies of science for instance, also provide critical links to governments and researchers within the region and beyond. There is an opportunity to support the establishment of sustainable approaches to regional collaboration and peer learning to tackle common challenges in LAC.  

  1. Inclusivity in STI and in STI systems. Science systems have the potential to play a transformative role within society. This refers both to who is participating in — and leading — STI activities as well as what the activities are aiming to achieve. The societal benefits, as well as the benefits to science itself, arising from a more inclusive and diverse STI system are increasingly clear. There is an opportunity for this aspect of STI to be at the forefront in LAC. 

More details on these three perspectives are found in Appendix I, below. 

IDRC programming approach .

Programming for 2022-23 will cover all of Latin America, with a strong focus on LMICs and regions such as Central America, where there are lingering capacity gaps on several levels (organizations, researchers, etc.) that could be mitigated through strategies including training, peer-learning, mobility and joint calls.  

Aligned with its recent Strategy 2030, IDRC’s Education and Science division has developed an approach to supporting science systems in LAC that focuses on two main types of activities: 

  1. Supporting collaborative research and individual-level capacity-strengthening (i.e., training and research careers) in LAC, in partnership with SGCs, research institutions and other key stakeholders, promoting gender and inclusion mainstreaming throughout activities. 

  1. Supporting capacity-strengthening activities that enable SGCs and regional science coordination bodies to effectively deliver on mandates, enhance the national/regional STI system and support an inclusive approach to science in their respective countries or regions. 

This strand of funding is well positioned to build on, and learn lessons from, recent IDRC programming, as well as many other initiatives in the region. For example: 

These initiatives, among many others, have revealed crucial opportunities for the region. Key stakeholders have argued for precisely the types of activities described below in order for STI in the region to build on existing efforts and a shared vision for STI to have a greater impact. 

Expected results 

This initiative is part of a suite of programming that seeks to strengthen national science agencies and regional coordination mechanisms that fund inclusive, multi-sectoral research and innovation. It seeks to position STI in LAC as a driver for transformative change and development and to bring forward new perspectives (including those from vulnerable populations) to inform global/regional dialogues and STI communities. Building on lessons learned from research investments made by IDRC in the region and worldwide, the Centre is well positioned to take a leadership role and scale up programming efforts. 


Outcomes .

Over the next 10 years, the current initiative aims to contribute to the following outcomes: 

  • Public STI agencies are better equipped to effectively deploy resources to priorities in a sustained manner, with a focus on inclusivity and diversity. 

  • Increased regional collaboration in STI that can inform policy responses to common regional development challenges. 

  • Enhanced career-progression pathways, for students and early-career researchers, with a particular emphasis on women and excluded groups across intersectional lines (i.e., sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status, people with disabilities, etc.) through strategies including training and network-building opportunities.  

  • Increased national and regional budgets to support STI activities, particularly in LMICs, as well as enhanced trust in science and uptake of STI to inform national and regional development priorities.   

Outputs .

To support some of the longer-term outcomes above, IDRC is funding programming that could lead to some of the following outputs, among many others, in the short term:  

  • several joint calls for research proposals that respond to regional priorities, identified by key stakeholders in the region, and that catalyze investment and collaboration 

  • significant numbers of new research and knowledge-translation products (patents, papers, policy briefs etc.) arising from intra-LAC research collaborations and from a better understanding of national and regional science systems 

  • new opportunities for students and early-career researchers, particularly those from the most vulnerable groups (e.g., Indigenous peoples, rural communities) 

  • new tools, trained staff and enhanced networks that better enable SGCs and regional coordination bodies to deliver on their mandates to support inclusive and priority driven STI 


The opportunity .

Scope of the call .

Expressions of interest (EOIs) must contribute to the expected outcomes outlined above, by aligning themselves with one of the two streams, below. It is expected that IDRC will fund one consortium under each stream. Organizations may be part of applications under both streams but may only propose to lead one of them. 

Stream 1: Enhancing regional collaboration through joint research and researcher mobility, with a focus on enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)  .

This stream is designed to support a consortium that can undertake activities that can lead to the following core results: 

  • Joint regional calls on identified priority topics, and allocating funding to successful applicants. 

  • Selected projects are effectively assessed and monitored, ensuring gender and inclusion considerations are mainstreamed and policy uptake is promoted. 

  • New inclusive career-development opportunities for scientists from excluded groups are developed, with an emphasis on STI areas with labour market gaps.  

  • Engagement with SGCs and other key stakeholders is initiated and sustained to ensure buy-in and alignment of supported research to policy priorities as well as to avoid duplication.  

  • The initiative’s overall impact is enhanced through network building, fundraising, knowledge translation and learning, as appropriate.  

While activities under this stream are often under the purview of individual SGCs within the contexts of their respective countries, few have the mandate and/or capacity to play a broader role on the regional stage. Thus, any applicant, be it from a governmental agency, or an independent think tank or NGO, for example, should be cognizant of the need to build on and complement, but not replace, existing structures and mechanisms[3]

Applicants are expected to refine these core activities and develop complementary approaches and methodologies to achieve their set outcomes. Applicants should demonstrate their ability to manage calls, engage with agencies, build on existing networks, apply their understanding of the regional landscape and of STI policy principles and demonstrate a commitment to integrate gender and inclusion in all aspects of the work. They should provide details on the design and execution of joint calls, with particular emphasis on the need to support lower-income countries, support scientific careers and address capacity gaps between countries in the region, as well as to support EDI imperatives to address other systemic inequalities and gaps. Applicants should justify their choice of specific funding modalities to encourage long-lasting collaboration and achieve the objectives being set out. 

Consortia should be built based on the different skills and knowledge required for this call, including, but not limited to: developing and implementing EDI strategies, STI policymaking, research management, organizing high-level workshops and meetings, gender analysis and strategic communications.  

Stream 2: Strengthening the capacity of national SGCs and regional science coordination bodies to deliver on priorities and enhance national and regional STI systems .

This stream is designed to support a consortium or organization that can provide demand-driven staff training and/or technical support to SGCs and regional science coordination bodies to enable them to effectively deliver on STI policy priorities, based on a joint identification of gaps. Technical support is broadly defined to include activities such as, but not limited to: supporting training and career advancement, with particular emphasis on women and other excluded groups; developing indicators to measure progress against key benchmarks and promote peer learning; engaging with the private sector, political sphere and other stakeholders outside the scientific community; developing and using grant-management tools; developing and implementing innovation-support programs; advancing an open science agenda; supporting knowledge translation (e.g., synthesis of knowledge and the development of new linkages to users) and the dissemination of research results (e.g., by promoting open science and enhancing research visibility); and managing research infrastructure.  

Core results under this stream should include: 

  • Specific organizations that can benefit from capacity-strengthening support are identified, and training or technical support modules are jointly developed with those organizations, with a particular emphasis on the differentiated needs of LMIC-based agencies. 

  • Sustainable and long-term methods to capacity strengthening are developed, effectively using peer learning, continuous learning, and/or knowledge management, among other approaches. 

  • Capacity-strengthening efforts place gender and inclusion considerations at the center of selected approaches and priority areas.  

  • Innovative approaches to capacity-strengthening explicitly reflect and integrate EDI objectives. 

  • New knowledge to literature on STI policy in LAC is developed thanks to systematic reflections on the project activities, challenges, opportunities and results. 

Applicants are expected to refine these core activities and develop complementary approaches and methodologies to achieve set outcomes. This stream should be fundamentally designed as an iterative process, including the selection of partner agencies requiring capacity strengthening and the design of appropriate modules for training or technical support, so applicants should incorporate flexibility in their approach. Applicants should demonstrate their experience in mobilizing expertise and in working in the training/technical support themes mentioned above, or others that are relevant to the work of SGCs and regional science coordination bodies. They should demonstrate an excellent understanding of the regional STI landscape and a commitment to integrate gender and inclusion in all aspects of the work.  

Eligibility .

Basic consortium requirements .

Activities should be focused on supporting lower-income countries in the region. Full regional coverage is not required. However, a detailed explanation of the selection will be expected for both streams for specific activities.  

This call for EOIs is open to a consortium composed of public and non-profit organizations located primarily in LAC (see details on next page). These may include regional or national governmental bodies, NGOs, think tanks, universities and public research centres. Organizations may be part of applications under both streams but may only propose to lead one of them. 

Each consortium should select a lead organization. For proposals selected for funding, IDRC will enter into a funding agreement only with the identified lead-applicant organization. The lead-applicant organization must have legal corporate registration in a country in LAC and must be able to administer foreign funds and manage funding arrangements with other organizations in the consortium. The lead organization for the consortium must meet minimum requirements to receive an IDRC grant, which includes being able to sign IDRC’s standard Grant Agreement, periodically amended by IDRC. 

IDRC is bound by Canadian law, which may restrict or prohibit funding for research and organizations in specific countries. For example, if the law limits banking transactions by Canadian financial institutions in a particular country, IDRC will not undertake any form of programming in the country. IDRC also reserves the right to not undertake programming in a given country due to security or other risk factors. 

Consortium design and profiles .

The lead consortium should select a project leader (PL) responsible for overseeing the project. Up to three co-PLs can be selected among the various participating organizations. Applicants should be aware of EDI considerations when selecting individuals as PLs or co-PLs, as this will be assessed. 

Building on the descriptions of core activities above, Stream 1 consortia would likely include organizations that have explicit experience and expertise in areas such as, but not limited to: 1) research management; 2) gender and inclusivity; 3) convening researchers and other key stakeholders; and 4) engaging in multi-stakeholder strategic planning exercises. Research coordination organizations and national science granting councils with a focus on regional collaboration may have a particular interest in leading, or participating in, the implementation of Stream 1 activities, for example. Stream 2 consortia, on the other hand, would likely interest organizations with a stronger expertise in training, research and knowledge mobilization related to the core activities mentioned above. 

Consortia may include organizations located outside of the region as members or as consultants, provided a justification of their roles is satisfactory. However, the costs incurred by these organizations to support personnel salaries and most associated activities (e.g., travel) must be no more than 5% of the total budget for Stream 1 proposals and 10% of the budget for Stream 2 proposals. Private consultants or consultancy firms (within or outside LAC) may be hired to support the work undertaken by the consortia. However, these should not be valued at more than 2.5% of the total budget for Steam 1 proposals, and 5% of the total budget for Stream 2 proposals. 

It is expected that, in order to effectively manage the projects, each consortium should include no more than three main collaborating organizations, although in some cases, larger consortia may be desirable (this should be explained in the EOI). Additional organizations may also be involved as participants. They can receive funding as consultants or be involved in the project without receiving funding. Multilateral agencies, including those that are part of the United Nations system, may participate in the call, but should not be the lead applicant, nor should their participation count as being “within the region”, so the limits described above should apply. 

Submission requirements .

All documentation must be submitted through the application website. A guide for using SurveyMonkey Apply is available here. No documents will be accepted by email. The fields and documentation that are required for the EOI include the following (more details are provided in the application form): 

  • justification of the problem and key assumptions or theoretical frameworks underpinning the work – 800 words maximum (960 in French or Spanish) 

  • theory of change (diagram attachment or text based) that is expected to build on compliance with outcomes (optional) – 1 page max. 

  • project design and methods, including specific activities proposed – 1,200 words max. (1,440 in French or Spanish) 

  • plans for integrating gender and inclusion considerations – 200 words max. (240 in French or Spanish) 

  • high-level budget (covering the main types of expenses to be incurred) in Canadian dollars – 200 words max. (240 in French or Spanish) 

  • description of the consortium, highlighting the qualifications of team members, the suitability of the organization(s) involved and their ability to undertake the work – 1,000 words max. (1,200 in French or Spanish) 

  • up to 3 CVs (max. 3 pages each) of the PL and co-PLs 

Only applicants who are successful at the EOI stage will be contacted by IDRC and will be required to submit a full proposal and additional information in the second stage. 

Process and timelines .

Evaluation process .

All EOIs will undergo an independent expert assessment process using an evaluation grid that assesses the proposal against the descriptions of Stream 1 or Stream 2, with the following general criteria: 

  • Team suitability (45%):  Capacity by members of the consortia or organization to meet technical and administrative qualifications and meet stream objectives. Capacity to leverage existing networks for greater impact and uptake. Diversity and complementarity of experience and skills in the institutional and individual members. A demonstrated track record and/or clear path forward for collaboration among consortium members. Experience and knowledge regarding science systems in LAC overall, or within sub-regions, should be clear, as should experience working with research and/or policy communities (according to the activities proposed). 

  • Approach and methodology (40%): Clear understanding of the operating context and regional/sub-regional challenges. Clear assumptions and framework to guide the activities, with an understanding of key risks and trade-offs. Relevance of the proposed approach in relation to the call parameters, with clear links between selected outputs and outcomes. Suitable and realistic methodology to achieve results in the short and medium term, with a view to longer-term sustainability of the initiative (beyond the duration of the funding), including through consideration of dissemination and knowledge-translation activities where needed. The proposal should demonstrate originality and an ability to innovate in developing approaches to strengthening STI systems in the region, with a focus on inclusivity. 

  • Gender and inclusion considerations (15%): Clear commitment to enhancing gender equality and inclusion, including explicit reference to intersectionality.  Degree of commitment to inclusion in all aspects of the proposal (i.e., justification, team composition, approaches and methodology, policy uptake and communication efforts). Commitment to address less supported subregions and/or excluded groups. 

Timelines .

Expressions of interest (Stage 1) to this call must be submitted online through the Survey Monkey Apply platform here by the deadline indicated below. Applications can be in English, French or Spanish. 

February 18, 2022 – Deadline for submitting Expressions of Interest 

March 11, 2022 – Successful applicants will be invited to develop full proposals (other applicants may not be notified) 

April 15, 2022 – Deadline for submitting full proposals and accompanying documents 

May 13, 2022 – Selected applicants will be notified of funding decisions  

June 10, 2022 – Finalization of granting details with IDRC, including any revisions to budgets and proposals 

July 1, 2022 – Selected projects begin work 

IDRC policies and requirements  .

General granting policies and procedures .

IDRC reserves the right to cancel the granting process at any time without prior notice and/or reserves the right to grant - at its discretion - all or none of the awards under this process. The funding envelope is provisional and may change without prior notice (this may be communicated to applicants invited to submit full proposals). Similarly, dates listed in this call are subject to change.  

IDRC requires that research involving human subjects be carried out in accordance with the highest ethical standards possible. Where available, applicants will need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. Where a research ethics body is not available, applicants are required to propose a mechanism for setting up an ethics review committee for the planned research activities and conform with IDRC ethics and security protocols. Ethics requirements also apply to sub-grantees. 

IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with numerous governments. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed in order to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. A grant agreement will only be issued if country clearance(s) is/are obtained beforehand. In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the IDRC grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements. 

IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. We support the generation of knowledge — including by individuals from diverse genders, communities, histories, legal status and experiences — that tackles the systems that perpetuate inequalities on the basis of identity. The requirement for EDI analysis and composition of the team members seeks to advance IDRC’s Equality Statement. 

Applicants must be committed to publishing research findings in the public domain in accordance with IDRC’s Open Access Policy. This also applies to sub-grantees. Applicants will be asked to uphold IDRC’s Open Data Statement of Principles, which provides the rationale for encouraging grantees to better manage their research data and, where feasible, make it openly available. If data is to be collected, then a data management plan will be required for the project. 

Permission for use and disclosure of information .

The application form will ask applicants for their consent for IDRC to receive and store submitted applications for purposes of external review and for program evaluation. If selected for funding, applicants further consent to the disclosure of proposal information such as the project abstract, team members and the name of their organizations. 

As a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this call for research proposals will be held by IDRC in a manner consistent with the Access to Information Act, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public. 

Contact information .

Please regularly consult our Frequently Asked Questions page available in the application portal. For additional inquiries, email FUSCIIA@IDRC.CA. Appropriate inquiries will be answered within five business days.  

Appendix I: Theoretical framework and background for action .

A strong and resilient STI landscape in LAC .

Many countries in the region, and particularly in Central America, face interrelated challenges, magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, including severe income inequality, unemployment, instability, violence (including gender-based violence) and climate vulnerability. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of enhancing resilience of local systems in adapting to changes in global markets or value chains, for instance, due to global or regional crises. If properly designed, STI initiatives can play a critical role in addressing these challenges and building resilience, yet investments in public research and development (R&D) in many parts of the region have stalled or decreased in the context of the pandemic.[4] This represents a major gap for development in the region. Brazil is the only country in the region currently investing more than one per cent of its GDP in R&D. On the private-sector side, under-investments remain the norm, contributing to brain-drain, a lack of locally produced knowledge to advance decision-making and limited competitiveness through innovation.[5] 

A second gap is that existing funds, already limited, are rarely deployed to invest in network building and capacity strengthening of science and innovation systems for the long term. The low number of graduates in science fields exacerbates the disparity between higher- and lower-income countries in the region when it comes to science capacity and contributes to “brain drain” rather than “brain circulation”. In some parts of LAC, a lack of (or suboptimal use of) research infrastructure and an underfunding of key research and innovation institutions, combined with a lack of effective collaboration mechanisms, inhibits long-term growth of a strong STI community.  

Third, the establishment of strong national science structures (e.g., SGCs) as well as the rollout of long-term plans and stable funding to support STI in the region has been hindered by recent budget shortfalls (driven by COVID-19 and the end of the commodity boom), high turnover in the civil service[6], political instability and/or competing policy priorities. These factors, alongside relatively low levels of trust in science[7], highlight the need for targeted and collaborative funding that can enable the growth of STI in LAC. Fortunately, most governments and regional organizations formally recognize the importance of robust STI systems and the need to support various aspects of them as economic drivers and tools to support strong social policies. In addition, recent decades have seen global leadership from the region on issues such as open access publishing and many countries have become world leaders in fields such as biotechnology and ocean science. Public universities, among other structures, play a key role in advocating for the importance of basic research, including through regional networks such as UDUALCSUCA and Grupo Montevideo. On another level, organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) continue to drive and support innovation-related activities. There is thus an opportunity to build on these successes and support the development of STI across the region. 

Science granting councils and regional collaboration .

Around the world, SGCs play a key role in ensuring that research and innovation can support national policy objectives and provide a solid grounding for a national science community to thrive. These agencies operate under many different forms, including as quasi-independent organizations or attached to specific ministries. In general, they fulfil a critical role of not only funding research (e.g., through grants) and training (e.g., through scholarships), but also achieving societal outcomes by making links to other political and scientific organizations: executive and legislative structures, universities and academies of science. In LMIC contexts, programs such as the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa have provided insight into the critical role of SGCs within both fledging and well-established national science systems in navigating the complex structures to support political objectives and supporting high-quality research.[8] 

While many SGCs in the region have significant budgets and capacity to manage research funds, councils in smaller or lower-income countries often lack not only financial resources, but also an ability to set priorities, manage calls, support training or career development and engage in international collaborations. Even as some are making strides in terms of the core structures and functions of key science organizations, granting agencies in the region are under increased pressure, with many budget cuts announced or expected, partly linked to the pandemic. Strengthening capacity and connectivity is an identified priority for these organizations.[9] Gender and inclusivity considerations (discussed below) are a key example of how SGCs can directly play a transformative role in their national science systems through various policy levers and targeted funding opportunities. 

SGCs also facilitate international linkages, often as the focal point for a country to enable participation in joint funding calls, e.g., through the Ibero-American Programme on Science and Technology for Development (CYTED), or in international fora such as the Global Research Council. STI is increasingly collaborative and international, and initiatives such as the Transatlantic Platform have highlighted the value, on multiple levels, of granting agencies facilitating collaborative research on a global scale. Granting agencies have also played a key role in facilitating international mobility schemes to enable young researchers to promote brain circulation and develop their international networks. Researchers rely on these networks as a means to achieve not only scientific but also economic or policy outcomes to benefit their respective countries. In many fields, a critical mass of researchers from different countries in the region is an opportunity to enhance their visibility worldwide and achieve greater impact, be it societal, economic, technological, environmental or other. There is a particular need in LAC for institutionalizing structures and mechanisms for promoting sustained research collaboration, through the promotion of grassroots research networks or through enhanced high-level engagement.[10] This can also help catalyze sustained funding for STI from many national, regional, private and international sources.  

COVID-19[11] has also highlighted areas of improvement in regional coordination to share data and technical resources in a timely and effective manner, as well as the need for human capital and infrastructure, particularly in many lower-income countries. The need for regional coordination functions and for an enhanced role in supporting the generation of public research and policies to mitigate these challenges is clearer than ever. This is especially true for areas such as Central America, where smaller states may rely on regional capacity to deliver on priorities. It also refers not only to collaborations among countries but also partnerships with the private sector through innovation agencies and the engagement of actors outside the traditional research sector[12] as part of an open science agenda[13].  

Increased peer-to-peer learning and regional STI policy integration can help coalesce SGCs and advance discussions on other issues such as budgets, training and inclusivity. There are also regional and sub-regional structures and networks that have played a key role in research collaboration, benchmarking (e.g., Network for Ibero-American and Inter-American Science and Technology Indicators or RICYT) and science diplomacy (e.g., the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research or IAI), from which to draw lessons and build on.[14] Yet, like the mechanisms for facilitating collaborative research, there remain important gaps (discussed below) for institutionalizing linkages and resilient science systems in the region. 

Inclusivity in STI and in STI systems .

The scientific community must reflect the society in which it operates. It must be proactive in countering the inequities and biases in access to education and career progression that have been dominant for decades by developing policies and programs that enable it to be diverse and democratic, including at leadership levels. This means developing mechanisms to promote not only high-quality but also more socially relevant research[15]. While there are more women graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in Latin America compared to other regions[16], this hides a significant gap in terms of the advancement of women at more senior leadership levels and, perhaps even more critically, the participation of excluded groups such as Indigenous people and rural communities in STI at all levels and in all sectors. Numbers also mask the obstacles faced by excluded and more vulnerable groups as they progress within universities, research centres and technology firms, where discrimination is rife. The lack of balance in the labour market in STI also impacts the regional economy and can be linked to slower growth and productivity in the region.[17] 

Particular attention has recently been paid to early-career researchers, who, after completing their PhDs, can greatly benefit from opportunities to develop their research programs, acquire equipment and develop national, regional and global networks in order to excel despite the systemic barriers they face. Similarly, the “leaky pipeline”[18] has accurately revealed how these systemic challenges become increasingly difficult with seniority, and more efforts are needed to ensure that women and other excluded groups are able to gain access and support in reaching senior positions, whereby they can serve as role models for the younger generation and help make STI better and more inclusive.  

There are also significant gaps as to how inclusive the content of the research is, and its ability to support outcomes that are broadly beneficial to society (including its marginalized or underrepresented groups).[19]  Responsible research and innovation should be focused on outcomes (both intended and unintended) and should be of the highest ethical standards. Moreover, there is an opportunity to focus on themes and topics that are directly linked to policy outcomes, namely the Sustainable Development Goals and national policy priorities, with a particular focus on rural communities, women, Indigenous groups and those living in poverty. STI policy should be purposeful in positioning itself for transformative change.[20]

[1] From the Spanish “Fortaleciendo Un Sistema de Ciencia e Innovation Inclusivo en las Américas”  

[2] For reference, the list of LMICs can be found here:  

[3] See, for example: F. Sagasti (2018). Hacia un Programa Regional de Cooperación en Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación para América Latina y el Caribe. Montevideo: UNESCO. 

[4] Pérez Ortega, R. & Wessel, L (2020). “‘We're losing an entire generation of scientists.' COVID-19's economic toll hits Latin America hard”, Science 12 Aug. 2020. E. Bothwell (2021). Is Latin American research on a path of decline?, Times Higher Education, 13 July 2021.  

[5] UNESCO (2021) UNESCO Science Report: The Race Against Time for Smarter Development (Chapter 7). S. Schneegans, T. Straza and J. Lewis (eds). UNESCO Publishing: Paris. 

[6] OECD (2019), La Integridad Pública en América Latina y el Caribe 2018-2019: De Gobiernos reactivos a Estados proactivos, OECD Publishing, Paris.  

[7] Wellcome Trust (2019). Wellcome Global Monitor: How does the world feel about science and health?, London. 

[8] J. Chataway et al. (2019) “Science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends and tensions”, Science and Public Policy, 46.4, p. 620–631. 

[9] D. O’Brien and M.L. Wallace (2017). Strengthening capacity and connectivity among research councils: Background report for the 6th annual Global Research Council Meeting, IDRC: Ottawa. 

[10] F. Sagasti (2018). Hacia un Programa Regional de Cooperación en Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación para América Latina y el Caribe. Montevideo: UNESCO.  

[11] G. Rivas & C. Suaznabar (Eds.) (2020), Responding to COVID-19 with Science, Innovation, and Productive Development. Washington: InterAmerican Development Bank.  

[12] S. Hachigonta, et al. (2021). Exploring Partnered Research Programmes: A Guide for Funders. Global Research Council.  

[13] UNESCO (2021). Draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. Paris: UNESCO.  

[14] M. Gual Soler, “Intergovernmental Scientific Networks in Latin America: Supporting Broader Regional Relationships and Integration,” Science & Diplomacy, Vol. 3.4. 

[15] Sutz, Judith. (2020). Redefining the concept of excellence in research with development in mind. In Transforming Research Excellence: New Ideas from the Global South. African Minds. 

[16] A. Bello (2020). Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region, Montevideo: UN Women.  

[17] V. López-Bassols et al. (2018). Las brechas de género en ciencia, tecnología e innovación en América Latina y el Caribe, Nota técnica IDB-TN-1408, Inter-American Development Bank; M.L. Monroy Merchán (2019). La sociedad del conocimiento y las brechas de género en ciencia, tecnología e innovación, Cuadernos Latinoamericanos de Administración, Vol. XV, No. 29.  

[18] S. Huyer (2015) ‘Is the Gender Gap Narrowing in Science and Engineering’, in UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030, Paris: UNESCO.  

[19] It should also be noted that the degree to which research and curricula (particularly in STEM fields) take into account broader social considerations affects and is affected by levels of diversity in the field. See, for example: C Wajngurt, & Sloan, P. J. (2019). Overcoming Gender Bias in STEM: The Effect of Adding the Arts (STEAM). InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching. 14, 13-28.  

[20] J. Schot and W.E. Steinmueller. (2018). Three frames for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change, Research Policy Vol. 47, Issue 9, pp. 1554-1567.