Considering the specificities of the initiative, the call for proposals stimulated the submission of a good amount of projects from the international scientific community: 8 projects that mobilized 48 research units. In compliance with set constraints, these were
- research teams within the network gravitating around the French Foundation Agropolis (4 research centers based in Montpellier: CIRAD, INRA, IRD and Montpellier SupAgro)
- research teams within the main organizations engaged in agricultural research in Fondazione Cariplo’s constituency
- research teams from African or Asian research centers
- international organizations already engaged in research focused on rice, benefitting developing countries: Africa Rice , IRRI and CIAT.
A panel of international experts (no Italian and no French expert) selected from a shortlist prepared by the Joint Committee reviewed the proposed projects on their merits based on the following criteria:
- scientific quality (originality, innovation, viability)
- partner interactions, reinforcement of existing partnerships, formation of new collaborations
- relevance in the international arena
- relevance with respect to social and economic aspects as well as to sustainable development
- value added by the support given by the two Foundations.
Each project was assigned to two reviewers in accordance with their area of expertise. The reviewers certified the absence of any conflict of interest in relation to the projects they were asked to judge. The ranking based on project merits was examined by the two Foundations and approved by their respective Boards of Directors.
At the end of the selection process, 4 grants were given to as many projects awarding all funds the two Foundations had allocated to the initiative.