Enlisting Canadians for greater impact

December 14, 2010
IDRC Communications

Increased collaboration, bolder solutions

OBJECTIVE: IDRC will engage Canadians in research for development through partnerships with researchers and institutions in the developing world.
 
For nearly 40 years, IDRC has supported research in the developing world, helping to nurture the innovative capacity that resides there. As part of this mandate, we have helped forge relationships between Canadian and developing-world researchers, bringing the best minds together to address some of the world’s pressing challenges, whether climate change, influenza, or financial crises.
 
Partnerships also contribute to IDRC’s effectiveness by widening the scope of our activities and helping bring particular activities to scale. The goals of these collaborations: world-class discoveries and healthier, wealthier, fairer societies.
 
IDRC / Mark Loewen
 

Linking the brightest minds

 
Notable among the collaborative activities launched in 2008–2009 is the International Research Chairs Initiative, a joint endeavour between IDRC and the Canada Research Chairs Program. Eight stellar scientists from the developing world have been chosen to join forces with a Canada Research Chair on a five-year program of research and training. With each team receiving a grant of up to $1 million, IDRC Research Chairs will have the funds to hire graduate students, attract post-doctoral researchers, and fill laboratories with the equipment they need to do cutting-edge research on shared concerns such as fisheries management, child nutrition, and wireless communications.
 
The Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI), launched in 2001, also brings together the knowledge, experience, and resources of five key partners: Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian International Development Agency, IDRC, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, which joined the partnership this year. The goal: to develop practical solutions for the health and healthcare problems of low- and middle-income countries.
 
GHRI’s flagship initiative, the Teasdale-Corti Global Health Research Partnership Program, is supporting 14 teams of Canadian–developing-country researchers. For example, researchers from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Canada are investigating treatment delays in obstetric emergencies as they study the access to health care of vulnerable populations. The project takes aim at one of the starkest health inequalities on the planet: the one in 16 lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications faced by women in sub-Saharan Africa (compared with one in 2800 in rich countries).
 
This year, the Teasdale-Corti Program also granted Global Health Leadership Awards to 13 extraordinary individuals from 12 countries, enabling them to pursue individualized professional development programs.
 
Investing in our future
 
Benefits from these and other collaborations accrue to Canada as well as to developing countries in terms of increasing and maintaining research excellence and strengthening Canada’s connection to the world’s pool of talent and ideas.
 
IDRC also works to spur the interest and expertise of the Canadian academic and development community. The Global Citizenship Small Grants, for example, enable Canadian organizations to address issues of social and economic justice, environmental protection, participation, peace and security, and human rights in a global perspective. Now in its 15th year, the program demonstrates the Centre’s commitment to working with institutions that seek to improve Canadians’ understanding of issues that affect both Canada and lower-income countries, and that require North–South collaboration to be addressed effectively.
 
IDRC / Mark Loewen
 

Enlisting the donor community

 
Partnerships at IDRC also mean funding agreements with other donors — foundations, multilateral organizations, Canadian and foreign government departments, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations — to increase the resources flowing to applied research in developing countries. For example, the Centre has teamed up with The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the US$90 million, 10-year Think Tank Initiative, which is set to forge new links among independent policy research institutes in the developing world. In an initial round of grants, 24 institutes in West and East Africa were selected this year to receive long-term core support, enabling them to hire and hold on to top researchers, improve the quality of their research, and strengthen overall management and governance.
 
In 2008–2009, IDRC worked with 24 donor partners, five of them Canadian. Funding from Canadian partnerships totalled $26.7 million. CIDA remains IDRC’s major partner in Canada.