Fairness in Research Partnerships

Prof Carel Ijsselmuiden, COHRED

Prof Ed Constable, University of Basel

Ms Eloise Meller, Global Challenges Research Fund

Dr Mark Claydon-Smith, Global Challenges Research Fund

Prof Stuart Taberner, University of Leeds


All countries need strong research and innovation systems to address national health, nutrition and development priorities – and to become and remain globally competitive to attract investments and the best human resources.

Achieving this requires a long-term vision, sustained and predictable funding, and effective and fair partnerships – nationally, continentally, globally. The two crucial elements are :i) long-term national leadership, and ii) fair, equitable research partnerships geared towards and supportive of this national vision and commitment.

This Session focuses on optimizing research and innovation partnerships because these are essential for access to knowledge, people, funds, materials, ideas, and more. No country is able to climb the development ladder on its own – and even once a country is at the top, partnerships remain as relevant to staying there as they were to getting there – provided these partnerships are fair.

And this is the issue this session addresses: in spite of the overwhelming importance of partnerships in creating resilient and competitive institutions and countries, there is no systematic and comprehensive framework to assess fairness and impact of partnerships. We have to re-invent the wheel every time again. There is no global evidence base nor a global learning platform on what works, where, and under what conditions.

In this session we present the Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) as a first global reporting system focusing on creating transparency, generating the evidence to develop better practices and standards, providing a metric for assessment of impact and for the conduct of due diligence.

This session brings together key European funders and partners of South Africa to share – with SFSA 2017 – their own institutional and national approach to creating fair partnerships and reflections on the potential of the RFI to support this.