In February this year, we selected six Innovators to join the Seafood Innovation Project and participate in an eight-month accelerator program. Now at the end of that journey, we take this opportunity to reflect on the successes and learnings of the program. 

The program kicked off with a week-long Summit in April, bringing the Innovators together with a diverse network. This network, known as Council Members, were selected based on their capacity and expertise to support the Innovators grow their impact in Indonesia, ranging from sustainability experts, investment specialists, to community leaders. The Summit successfully sees 270 commitments of support that had been made between Council Members and Innovators.

Following the Summit, Innovators joined an online accelerator program that featured a combination of individual and group-based support. Innovators were supported to prioritise and follow up on the commitments that had been made, while also receiving capacity development across core business foundations. 

By the end of the program, the Innovators have achieved different goals and increased capacity in various aspects. And we gained so many learnings in running an innovation program to improve Indonesia’s seafood sector. Below are some key highlights.  

1. The selection of a diverse cohort enabled unexpected and unlikely learnings

In selecting the SIP cohort, we were conscious that the diversity of their focus areas and of their needs would present challenges for the design of the accelerator program. However, this diversity enabled rich organic learnings and support to emerge. Variance in their stage of development enabled those who had recently closed investment rounds to support others as they went through this experience. The array of their skills also meant that those with more scientific technical knowledge were able to support, and learn from, those with a stronger business mindset. Finally, the geographical diversity of the Innovators allowed for knowledgeable insights as operations expanded into new countries. 

2. There is a hunger and willingness across the sector to engage with, and support, new ideas

As a project team, we were consistently surprised and encouraged by the willingness of the SIP Community to support the program and the Innovators. There was a clear verbalisation of a desire to work more closely together to address shared challenges. The small amount of innovators within the sector makes the community more tight-knit and supportive to one another.

3. Peer to peer knowledge sharing and connection is a critical component of an Innovator’s growth and support journey

In reflecting on the mix of expert-led and peer-led knowledge sharing, it was clear that peer-learning enabled a more meaningful and unique experience for Innovators. Many of the Innovators came into the program with a sense of isolation in their journey and were facing challenges alone that many of the other Innovators also faced. Providing the guidance and space for them to share challenges and learnings was an invaluable component of the program. Over the course of the program, many of the Innovators developed working partnerships with each other that will continue in the years to come.

4. Different Innovators created different impact

As our cohort consisted of six diverse Innovators developing various tools and systems. This allows them to contribute in different areas in the seafood sector: AlgaeVeg have started their pilots with five coastal communities across Indonesia; ASIC has been developing a business and operational model that allows them to achieve their mission while also ensure financial sustainability; CROWDE worked out new ways to expand their offering of micro-financing options for smallholder farmers by working together with them; FarmMOJO raised US$1.1 million which will help them to begin a pilot project in Sulawesi; FishLog refined their strategy to focus on creating market for smallholder fish farmers through partnership with sustainable seafood suppliers; and SafetyNet has successfully tested their technology and looking for ways to manufacture their products locally.

From Europe, we would never have been able to have the impact that we have in Indonesia over the past half year. To have people open doors, was only possible because of this program. Next week, we have to start doing it on our own. With the experience we now have in our backpack, that will be much easier.

AlgaeVeg
If you want to read more about the program – how we designed it, the impact, and successes, we have put together a final report which we hope to be a resource for everyone who wants to improve the sector through advancing innovation. Please find the report here

Lastly, we would like to thank all Evaluators, Council Members, Innovators, Mentors, SIP Community Members, extended network, and everyone who has contributed to the program. We hope to be working together again to continue to improve the sector.