Collaborate with CIP

Guidance on Partnership with the Private Sector


The International Potato Center (CIP) is constantly seeking to forge new, relevant partnerships to ensure that the Center can have the broadest access to the most advanced technologies and skills, and to act as an intermediary to bring their benefits to the developing nations, specifically to the low income potato and sweetpotato farmers living in them.

CIP recognizes that the private sector, in particular, is becoming increasingly important in developing and disseminating such new technologies. In some countries the private sector is actually the most probable partner to reach our clients. The governments of both developing and industrialized countries are encouraging the private sector to participate in projects that have, in the past, been financed from the public purse.

CIP cannot ignore this trend, and it will actively seek collaboration with private sector organizations in joint research efforts aimed at meeting the Center’s goals and objectives. CIP defines the private sector not only as national and multinational for-profit enterprises and small-scale entrepreneurs, but also as public institutions or organizations that are entirely or mostly funded by industry, or that derive part of their income from selling products of their research.

The scale and nature of collaboration with these different entities of the private sector may not be exactly the same, but general considerations apply in all circumstances. We believe that a nonprofit organization like CIP can work in partnership with the private sector to leverage complementary skills, capacity and expertise that will enhance our ability to develop and disseminate pro-poor technologies, varieties and seeds without compromising our mission or reputation. Furthermore access to skills and expertise in the private sector will ensure that our technologies are more appropriate and will reach our clients for hunger and poverty alleviation in a considerably shorter timeframe and on a far greater scale.


CIP adopts the following principles to help the Center formulate and foster its partnership with the private sector:

  • Collaboration with the private sector will be entered into when it serves to further CIP’s vision – to improve the well-being of present and future generations of root and tuber farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes.
  • Joint research includes developing and evaluating products and generating knowledge-based management tools.
  • CIP will not collaborate on any activity than can degrade the environment, cause gender inequities, or adversely affect human and animal health. In this regard, an ex ante evaluation of potential impact will be conducted on collaborative activities suspected to have negative internalities or externalities.
  • A memorandum of agreement, a document jointly agreed on and subject to public access, will govern the scope of collaboration between private sector organizations and CIP. Nowhere in the process of collaboration will there be any deliberate attempt at secrecy. However, CIP will accept confidentiality agreements and material transfer agreements that dearly define access to and use of information and materials coming from the private sector. The scope of collaboration will also be governed by the human, physical, and financial resources to be jointly determined and mutually committed for a defined period.
  • CIP staff will not derive any direct financial benefit from collaboration with the private sector. Any potential conflict of interest will be clarified at the outset.
  • For collaboration to be effective there should be advantages for both sides, depending on the extent and level of the activity. The effort must be consistent with the mission, strategy, and objectives of both organizations.
  • Work carried out under public-private partnerships will be subject to annual independent monitoring against baseline studies, to check that benefits do indeed accrue to the poor. In particular monitoring will assess whether these partnerships are effective in increasing access by smallholders, vulnerable households and in particular women in to propoor technologies, varieties and seed.


CIP can derive the following benefits from its partnership with the private sector:

  • Access to technology and expertise. CIP can have access to otherwise unavailable new technologies, capacity and expertise in new avenues or fields of research.
  • Access to products. CIP can have access that will accelerate its research impact and productivity.
  • Access to training. CIP and NARS can have specialized training in certain research approaches and methodologies.
  • Access to manufacturing or production capabilities. CIP can have access to and benefit from large-scale manufacturing or production facilities of the collaborating entity in certain areas of machinery and seed production.
  • Access to economies of scale. CIP can benefit from the the large-scale capabilities, if any, and geographic reach of the collaborating institution.
  • Access to delivery systems for knowledge-intensive research. CIP can benefit from the delivery systems of the collaborating institution.

CIP expects the private sector to derive the following benefits from partnership with the Institute:

  • A model for collaboration. Collaboration between CIP and the private sector could facilitate or be instructive for initiatives of the national agricultural research systems (NARS) to collaborate with the private sector.
  • Access to NARS through international agricultural research centers (IARC). The collaboration can provide direct access to NARS for the collaborating institution.
  • Access to CIP’s well-established operations and infrastructure. The collaborating institution can benefit from CIP’s research facilities and thus may not need to establish its own operations and infrastructure.
  • Access to expertise, knowledge, and materials. The collaborating institution can benefit from the unique expertise of CIP and other IARCs, as well accessing unique materials such as germplasm in a more structured fashion.
  • Demonstration of social responsibility. Collaboration with CIP provides an effective means for private sector organizations to further their social responsibilities.
  • Low risk and reward sharing. The collaborating institution can benefit from the low risk investment and associate itself with proven successes.

Intellectual property rights

CIP’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights was approved by its Board of Trustees in April 2006. With respect to partnership with the private sector, it is important to emphasize the following:

  • CIP will ensure that its obligations under the terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources are met and that the collaboration is in accordance with its policies on exploiting genetic resources and other components of biodiversity.
  • CIP recognizes that to have access to private sector skills, capacities and products, and to make these available to developing nations, it may be necessary to enter into special agreements that accept some limitations on the distribution of the derived and associated materials. In these cases, CIP will strive to retain as far as possible, nonrestrictive access to the products of its research programs, particularly in relation to developing countries.
  • CIP adheres to the general principle of free availability of the breeding lines, elite germplasm, and parental lines of hybrids produced in its conventional breeding program. CIP will however consider permitting third parties to seek limited exclusivity over selected improved germplasm for commercial use provided that:
    • The arrangement involves and/or is explicitly endorsed by the relevant National program
    • The arrangement is time-bound and country-specific
    • The arrangement will in no way restrict access to improved germplasm to smallholder farmers through traditional or farm-based seed systems or seed exchange mechanisms
  • CIP will consider all requests to permit third parties exclusive access to improved germplasm or other materials on a case-by-case basis and in each case will perform a comprehensive risk assessment to ascertain that net benefits are likely to accrue to smallholder farmers and that the arrangement protects the reputation of CIP. CIP will also monitor that the expected benefits to smallholder farmers were evident and publish these results.