This article focuses on some of the historical innovation institutional infrastructures in Zimbabwe that supported the genesis of a vibrant maize sector, and analyses institutions for technology, policy, skills, knowledge development and attendant financing mechanisms. We discuss the country’s maize innovation ecosystems, focusing on the technological capabilities in breeding and extension services, the architecture of financial institutions to support agriculture, and bridging institutions that supported technology adoption and innovation diffusion. In the process, we highlight elements of co-evolution, co-specialisation, collaboration and linkages amongst innovation communities for maize over a period spanning the pre- and post-independence eras. Our discussion covers the uneven colonial institutional, technological and financial support availed to white commercial farmers and how the shift in focus of government policy and support post-independence, resulted in the centre of gravity shifting to communal farmers, who now contribute the bulk of maize production. We discuss the critical roles played by Agritex (a technology broker and accelerator) and a state procurement agent (the Grain Marketing Board) as a market creator and signalling tool, as well as how specialised agriculture financing by state and commercial banks supported the rise of maize as a food security crop. Our key argument is that there were focused knowledge and technology flows between government research institutions, the private sector and others, such as the Seed Maize Association, which was involved in seed multiplication and marketing to the white commercial farmers pre-independence. This relationship shifted after independence in order to support small-scale commercial farmers, who were mainly black farmers.