IRRI: working with the private sector

  • About

  • Access to IRRI research

  • Work guiding principles

  • Funding from the private sector

IRRI working with different sectors

Partnerships are fundamental to IRRI’s success. Since IRRI was established in 1960, we have forged relationships with partners across the public and private sector, including with rice farmers, donors, extension officers, scientists, government agencies, nongovernment organizations, and businesses.

  • Our diverse mix of partners helps IRRI to:
  • Develop research directions and identify issues to address.
  • Undertake collaborative and participatory research.
  • Share our research and help us deliver it to end-users.
  • Adapt our research solutions and technologies to local conditions and needs.
  • Financially support our research.

IRRI is continually seeking new partnerships and funding to support our research to achieve our goals to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure that rice production is environmentally sustainable.

examining rice

All research that IRRI conducts is widely applicable and no research findings are exclusively available to any partner.

Our research solutions are directly available to help farmers, but they are also available to governments to help guide their policies, to research institutions, to nongovernment organizations, and to the private sector, which can use them to help develop other products. All these players and more make up the fabric of modern agriculture, which, essentially, feeds the world.

By making our research available through many different partnerships and dissemination channels, IRRI contributes to improving rice production and the welfare of rice farmers in the broadest possible way. This gives farmers more options to choose from to determine which solutions best suit them and their situations, and which will provide them with the greatest benefits.

women in rice field

The private sector is one of IRRI’s partners. We work with the private sector in areas of complementary strength, to help us develop and deliver products and other solutions faster and to make them widely available to rice farmers worldwide.

IRRI ensures that all our private-sector partnerships:

in the rice field

In 2010, IRRI’s budget was around US$57 million. The sources of our funding included government (48.3%), philanthropic foundations (31.6%), nonprofit international agencies (11.9%), CGIAR centers and programs (4.8%), the private sector (1.7%), and universities (1.7%).

IRRI has four major types of relationships with the private sector that support IRRI’s research. We adhere to our guiding principles on working with the private sector in developing these private-sector partnerships.

Financial support for research conducted by IRRI and its partners

Private companies or industry associations may make contributions to specific research areas or to international consortia that involve a large number of public- and private-sector partners.

For example, since 1997, three international fertilizer industry associations have provided additional support to the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), which receives its main funding from several public-sector donors. These funds were used by IRRI and its national partners to conduct research on new approaches for efficient, sustainable nutrient management in rice-based systems. Another example is the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium (HRDC), in which more than 25 seed companies pay membership fees that are used to support research on hybrid rice improvement, hybrid management, and capacity building.

Bilateral research collaboration

The primary method of bilateral private-sector research collaboration with IRRI is through Scientific Know-how and Exchange Programs (SKEP). IRRI’s SKEPs focus on research areas of mutual interest, scientist-to-scientist interaction, and capacity building for young scientists. We avoid areas that could cause complex intellectual propety (IP) issues and we ensure that research results are made widely available. SKEPs do not involve any commercialization agreements.

For example, IRRI has a SKEP with DuPont that includes joint research on genetic characterization of hybrid lines widely used by public- and private-sector breeders, understanding mechanisms for improving the resistance of rice to planthoppers, and funding for a doctorate scholarship for a young scientist from Asia.

Technology delivery partnerships

The private sector has specific expertise and networks for delivering products and services effectively and efficiently to farmers. By working with our private-sector partners on a nonexclusive basis another channel for delivering our research solutions is enabled. In such cases, IRRI provides initial technical support and assistance with capacity building for delivering new technologies coming out of research conducted by IRRI and its national partners. Private companies, like other partners, use their own resources to deliver these technologies to farmers and also provide feedback for further improvement.

An example of a technology delivery partnership we have is with Syngenta, which through its networks of agronomists and dealers in Bangladesh, promotes the use of alternate wetting and drying – a crop management method that can improve water-use efficiency in rice.


IRRI has established two new legal entities for fund-raising purposes in support of our mission - the IRRI Fund Singapore and the IRRI Foundation Hong Kong. They focus on private philanthropy, increasing private sector support, building an endowment, and generally increasing support for rice research within Asia.

An example of one such donation is through 5 PRIME, a life science company, which has donated to IRRI a significant amount of laboratory chemicals for use in our research.