The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) PAN Asia Networking initiative has been supporting small grants programs since 1997 under different program structures.
The first phase was from 1997-2001 when the IDRC PAN (Pan Asia Networking) R&D Grants program was established as a competitive grants scheme for ICT R&D activities in the developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region. This programme alone supported 25 projects totalling CAD 1.5 million.
A second phase was launched in 2001 as the "ICT R&D Grants Programme for Asia and the Pacific", as a funding partnership with the Asia Pacific Development Information Program (APDIP), the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) and the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC, which also served as the programme administrator under separate funding) along with the Internet Society (ISOC) and Microsoft. This programme received a total of 642 project proposals from over 30 AP economies, and awarded 56 separate grants. The last round of competition was in held 2005 and was followed by a Learning Forum for past grant recipients, which provided feedback for future development and served as the base for evaluation.
A third phase started with the launch of the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) in 2008 under a new funding partnership between the IDRC, ISOC, and APNIC, with additional support from the DotAsia organization. ISIF was described as “a grants and awards program aimed at stimulating and acknowledging creative solutions to ICT development needs in the Asia Pacific region, placing particular emphasis on the role of the Internet in social and economic development in the region, towards the effective development of the Information Society throughout”.
The ISIF ASia fund has been administered by APNIC since 2008, under a separate funding arrangement with IDRC; while APNIC has also made a full contribution to the grants fund in each year. In October 2012, a new grant from IDRC allowed the ISIF Asia program to continue, this time in collaboration with the FRIDA program managed by LACNIC and the newly launched FIRE program, managed by AFRINIC under the Seed Alliance umbrella. A month later, the Swedish government joined in, through a grant provided the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The Sida grant, administered by APNIC, supported internet development across the global sout through FIRE, FRIDA and ISIF Asia from 2012 - 2015.
Staff from IDRC, APNIC, AFRINIC and LACNIC meet after the IGF in Nairobi in 2011 to finalize the planning for the 2012-2015 grant cycle.
Up until February 2016, around AUD 2.7 million ISIF alone has supported 67 initiatives from 22 economies in the Asia Pacific region, showcasing innovation, cooperation, and technical knowledge. Final reports from grant recipients are available for download under a Creative Commons License.
The ISIF Asia program conducted an internal review and evaluation during 2010 and lessons learned from this process have been incorporated into the development of the new framework under the Seed Alliance grants from IDRC and Sida, for 2012-2015. An external evaluation was commissioned by IDRC in late 2014.
APNIC staff actively participates in ISIF Asia planning and programing. On the photo, senior management engages in the preparation of the ISIF Asia evaluation framework.
A new phase for ISIF started in November 2015, thanks to the support and renovated commitment from IDRC and APNIC. This new funding support will allow ISIF Asia to continue its operatinos until December 2017.