This research considers how public good characteristics of different types of research and development (R&D) and the motivations of different providers of R&D funding affect the relative advantages of alternative funding sources. We summarize the public good characteristics of R&D for agriculture in general and for commodity and subsistence crops in particular, as well as R&D for health in general and for neglected diseases in particular, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Finally, we present rationales for which funders are predicted to fund which R&D types based on these funder and R&D characteristics. We then compile available statistics on funding for agricultural and health R&D from private, public and philanthropic sources, and compare trends in funding from these sources against expectations. We find private agricultural R&D spending focuses on commodity crops (as expected). However contrary to expectations we find public and philanthropic spending also goes largely towards these same crops rather than staples not targeted by private funds. For health R&D private funders similarly concentrate on diseases with higher potential financial returns. However unlike in agricultural R&D, in health R&D we observe some specialization across funders – especially for neglected diseases R&D - consistent with funders’ expected relative advantages.
Findings from this report were presented at the APPAM International Conference in London and at the ICABR Conference in Ravello, Italy in June 2016. Updated findings were presented at the ICABR Conference in Berkeley, CA in May 2017.
This research was informed by separate analyses of the drivers of biomedical R&D investment (EPAR Technical Report #338) and of funding for agricultural R&D (EPAR Technical Report #339). A draft report of the comparative analysis of agricultural and health R&D funding by sector as presented at the 2017 ICABR meeting is posted on this page, summarizing preliminary analysis and findings. Research on this project is still ongoing, including efforts to model the allocation of R&D public good funding across sectors.
A blog post summarizes initial findings on the distribution of agricultural and health R&D across sectors.