Globally, Research Partnerships are formed and maintained within complex circumstances and an intricate backdrop of many types of inequitable conditions and practices.
Consider the field of global health, for example. Low investment in health research and development generally perpetuates the reliance on a small number of exceptionally well-resourced public funders, private philanthropies, and private industry, which gives them disproportionate power to shape the global research and development agenda. In addition, the wealthiest and best-equipped institutions and organizations have a significant advantage in their competitiveness for research funding, and for exercising control over the goals and terms of research partnerships.
This results in systematically unfair outcomes between partners in their ability to shape the research agenda, their competitiveness for scientific productivity and impact and capacity building. The disproportionality also affects partners’ credit and recognition for contribution, access to data, access to intellectual property and compensation for participation in research partnerships among research institutions/organizations globally.
While global health research done in this way provides new tools, medicines and technologies for people in low and middle income countries, the spin-off economic activities and human capital accrual remain mostly in high income countries.
Ultimately, therefore, the RFI is focusing both on the immediate products of research AND on the ‘business of research’ –equitable sharing in and of ALL benefits of research and innovation. In this way, the RFI aims to increase global research and innovation capacity in all countries to bring the creativity and inventiveness of many more people and great minds to focus on all grand challenges.
Because of COHRED’s historical expertise in ‘research for health’, the RFI in its first version is focusing on just that: improving research partnerships that have impact on health, globally and locally – emphasizing the health of those in lowest income situations and countries. However, the principle of the RFI lends itself to improve research partnerships in any other research and innovation endeavour. We can foresee a rapid expansion for the use of the RFI to include other R&D partnerships, and equitable partnerships in general.