COHRED is always looking for ways in which research and innovation capacity can be built around the world – especially in low- and middle-income countries, but equally importantly, to deal with increasing poverty and inequality in high income countries.
One key strategy is to support the capability of low- and middle-income countries and their research institutions to negotiate and conclude better contracts – contracts that are more fair – that leave more capacity behind when studies are done. In this way, such countries and institutions can have more access to resources, data, intellectual property rights and other benefits, such as spin-off commercialization, than they currently have. Achieving this means that countries, their research organisations and businesses can gradually shape strong institutions that are better equipped, better managed, more locally and internationally relevant and more competitive to attract more collaborations, staff and resources.
But we also realize that free web-access to contract negotiation guides – and even online support – is never going to be sufficient.
In the absence of any framework, benchmark or standard of best practice on which to model governmental, corporate, non-profit, or academic research collaborations – particularly for international collaborative research and innovation involving low- and middle-income countries – a small team providing technical consultancy is woefully inadequate.
The question – then what? – resulted in a creative interaction between our staff and board, and ultimately in the design of the Research Fairness Initiative (RFI): Creating a reporting system that encourages governments, business, organisations and funders to describe how they enact measures to create trusting, lasting, transparent and effective partnerships in research and innovation.