Principles for building public-private partnerships to benefit food safety, nutrition, and health research

Sylvia Rowe, Nick Alexander, Alison Kretser, Robert Steele, Molly Kretsch, Rhona Applebaum, Fergus Clydesdale, Deborah Cummins, Eric Hentges, Juan Navia, Ashley Jarvis, Ken Falci
For more details see weblink below

This peer review article from 2013 looks at the potential for public private partnerships (PPPs) to benefit food safety, nutrition and health research. The authors acknowledge that PPPs can be useful in leveraging diverse expertise among government, academic, and industry researchers to address public health needs and questions concerned with nutrition, health, food science, and food and ingredient safety - but sought to determine whether a list of general principles could be established concerning the creation and management of PPPs . 

The review resulted in a comprehensive list of best practices that are common to most research PPPs, including 12 proposed principles.

  1. Have a clearly defined and achievable goal to improve the health of the public
  2. Articulate a clear statement of work, rules, and partner roles, responsibilities, and accountability, to build in trust, transparency, and mutual respect as core operating principles – acknowledging there may be “deal breakers” precluding the formation of an effective partnership in the first place
  3. Ensure that objectives will meet stakeholder partners' needs, with a clearly defined baseline to monitor progress and measure success
  4. Considering the importance of balance, ensure that all members possess appropriate levels of bargaining power
  5. Minimize conflict of interest by recruiting a sufficient number of partners to mitigate influence by any single member and to broaden private-sector perspectives and expertise
  6. Engage partners who agree upon specific and fundable research question(s) to be addressed by the partnership
  7. Enlist partners who are committed to the long-term goals as well as to the sharing of funding and research data
  8. Along with government and the private sector, include academics and other members of civil society as partners
  9. Select objective scientific measurements capable of providing common ground for both public- and private-sector research goals
  10. Adopt research questions and methodologies established by partners with no vested financial interest in them, ideally in the pre-competitive space
  11. Be flexible and ensure ongoing transparent communications
  12. Consider a third-party convener to ensure equality at the table, clarify rules, establish operational guidelines, and specify funding arrangements.

The authors conclude that there is no one size fits all approach to establishing PPPs aimed at creating research with a positive impact on public health, but rather each collaboration requires a comprehensive commitment from preliminary work through completed research. However, given the broad agreement cited here, it also seems clear that the effort to create general principles is likely to be helpful.

Some of the key messages from the publication are : 

  • There is no one size fits all approach for establishing public-private partnerships (PPPs) that benefit food safety, nutrition and health research.
  • Each collaboration requires a comprehensive commitmnt from preliminary work through completed research. 
  • General principles for cooperation set out here may be helpful in establishing and managing PPPs with positive public health outcomes.
This resource has been peer reviewed