Multi-stakeholder platforms have become mainstream in projects, programmes and policy interventions aiming to improve innovation and livelihoods systems, i.e. research for development interventions in low- and middle-income contexts. However, the evidence for multistakeholder platforms’ contribution to the performance of research for development interventions and their added value is not compelling. This paper focuses on stakeholder participation as one of the channels for multi-stakeholder platforms’ contribution to the performance of research for development interventions, i.e. stakeholder participation. It uses a quantitative approach and utilizes descriptive statistics and ARIMA models. It shows that, in three Ugandan multi-stakeholder platform cases studied, participation increased both in nominal and in unique terms. Moreover, participation was rather cyclical and fluctuated during the implementation of the research for development interventions. The study also shows that, in addition to locational and intervention factors such as type of the area along a rural–urban gradient targeted by the intervention and human resources provided for multi-stakeholder platform implementation, temporal elements such as phases of research for development intervention objectives and the innovation development process play significant roles in influencing participation. The study concludes that contribution of multi-stakeholder platforms to the performance of research for development projects, programs, policies and other initiatives is constrained by locational and temporal context and conditional on the participation requirements of the objectives pursued by research for development intervention.