Updated 28/05/20

The promotion of research and the principle of open and responsible innovation are at the core of all IRD's missions. The goal: to enhance the impact of research on people living in the Global South and attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Institute's actions in France and abroad are therefore developed in a spirit of co-construction and equitable partnership.


Atelier CoLAB à Bamako (Mali)

© Ousmane Makeveli

Atelier CoLAB à Bamako (Mali)

Ethical strategies and tools

Protecting for the sake of sharing 

The IRD has embarked on a new approach to intellectual property and partnership, a strategy designed to serve sustainable development. This strategy seeks to strike the right balance between the free dissemination of knowledge from public research, and the need to protect certain results. The idea is to enable new products or services to be developed while controlling their access. 

The Institute's value-adding initiatives come under the ethical framework of the Nagoya Protocol. As part of this framework, IRD encourages protective measures that bring recognition to local and traditional knowledge in innovation processes, while also steering the holders of this knowledge towards co-ownership of inventions and equitable sharing of results.

The Institute has thus abandoned its former "all patent" approach and streamlined its portfolio, by encouraging the sharing of patents in joint ownership with the Global South.

Ethical public-private partnerships

IRD is strengthening its relationships with innovation ecosystems in the Global South and forging responsible, ethical and sustainable partnerships with the private sectors (companies, NGOs, foundations).

The Institute is also involved in incentives to bring public and private research closer together, such as the Technology Transfer Accelerator Offices (SATT), and competitiveness clusters on priority issues, opening up possibilities for the Global South.

Open science is thus reciprocated by openness to science from society and the economy. This directly benefits populations since, over and above technology transfers, it leads to the co-creation of knowledge, technologies and new services.
IRD is also a founding member of several incubators for innovative companies, including
Adecal Technopole in Nouméa and Bond'innov in Bondy. The latter helps leaders of innovative projects - mainly in France and Africa - bring them to fruition, with the aim of facilitating the creation of businesses in the fields of health, biotechnology, the environment and the social and solidarity economy. 

Le projet Smart Clean Garden Concept

© Leslie Leyzour

Station pilote d'épuration écologique avec des filtres plantés de roseaux pour le traitement et la réutilisation des eaux usées - Smart Clean Garden Concept

Actions to stimulate innovation

IRD supports multi-actor teams seeking to start projects that show strong potential for development. These might be such things as building a prototype, carrying out prospecting or technical missions, performing marketing research or conducting market analyses.

Examples include:

  • Smart Clean Garden Concept

    Smart Clean Garden Concept is an innovative tool for sustainable and decentralised management of urban wastewater. This tool makes use of the phenomenon of phyto-purification: the idea is to clean domestic wastewater by using the capacity of soils and plants, to filter and then transform the organic elements present in the water into assimilable mineral matter. >>Vidéo

  • Captivant 2

    Captivant 2 is a tool for monitoring the irrigation and the biological state of the soils in tropical environments, via innovative sensors developed at low cost. The idea is to provide advice to farmers in countries of Southeast Asia.

  • Arts Terra ecological kiosks

    Arts Terra ecological kiosks promote self-entrepreneurship, enabling young entrepreneurs to set up, create and own their business in a cost-efficient way. They are based on an original architectural and economic model. Among the activities developed are a responsible clothing brand, a beauty salon that uses organic cosmetics, an innovative company that provides HR management services to micro-enterprises, and the list goes on.

Femme de dos au cours d'un atelier CoLAB à Bamako (Mali)


Femme de dos au cours d'un atelier CoLAB à Bamako (Mali)

CoLAB, a programme for responsible innovation in the Global South

IRD, MakeSense and Bond'innov have joined forces to create CoLAB, the first multi-actor collaboration laboratory for responsible innovation, seeking solutions that suit local uses and meet local needs. Launched in 2017 in three West African countries (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Senegal), this project has already brought together over 1,000 participants (researchers, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, public institutes, etc.) to attend collective intelligence workshops and co-build projects addressing the issue of food security. This programme aims to spread to other territories and other issues in the Global South.

Among the CoLAB projects:

  • J’UCAO

    The J'UCAO project is about transforming, creating and marketing new cocoa products. Five actors came together to develop new consumption patterns, increase farmers' incomes and develop the local economy.


    DIADEEM is a support system that unifies the various players in the field of sustainable agriculture. It facilitates experimentation in different areas of Senegal.

Logo Campus de l'Innovation


Logo Campus de l'Innovation

Innovation Campus: Innovating for the planet

Inaugurated in 2016 and hosted by IRD Ile-de-France regional delegation in Bondy, the Innovation Campus (Campus Innovation pour la Planète) is both a physical site and an open space for participatory research, training and experimentation. It is a place for inventing solutions, expressing ideas and developing connections. As part of its strategy to advance collective intelligence, the Campus promotes dialogue between researchers and civil society actors, economic stakeholders and innovators. It provides tools that foment creativity and collaboration in order to stimulate the emergence of projects that meet local needs.

Among the projects developed with these new collaborative approaches are:

  • Lab3S

    Co-created with the Est Ensemble community, Lab3S is an experimental platform for urban ecology, urban agriculture and sustainable food. It is made up of several different areas: an urban farm, a Food Lab and a Café des Cultures, a Fab Lab, co-working spaces, as well as a reception area for the public and for schoolchildren.

  • "The Future Of"

    In partnership with So Science, conference cycles on various topics are organised on a regular basis. Entitled The Future Of, these conferences seek to forge and support partnerships between different actors: scientists (public or private researchers), social entrepreneurs, start-ups , manufacturers, associations, NGOs, institutions on environmental or social issues (examples: water, soil, waste, etc.).

  • La Ruche

    La Ruche, an incubator for young talents in Burkina Faso, is composed of several different areas, including a separate venue run by IRD that invites young people to make their innovative projects a reality, helping them along the way and steering them in their career paths. La Ruche thus enhances youth employability while stimulating innovation for development.