Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA)
Agricultural technologies can be powerful tools for humanitarian efforts, but are often blocked by intellectual property restrictions. Meridian engaged leading institutions to break down these barriers and open new doors for innovation.
Many U.S. public sector institutions—particularly universities—create global advances in agricultural science technology. These innovations have the potential to address food security in developing countries, but are often stymied by a maze of intellectual property obstacles. In response to this challenge, Meridian facilitated a collaborative process, initiated and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and McKnight Foundation, to establish the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) in 2006. For over a decade, PIPRA has successfully worked to encourage commercialization and humanitarian use of public sector institutions’ intellectual property (IP).
Legal and financial IP restrictions have traditionally hampered the attempts of institutions and researchers in developing countries to access agricultural technologies that could prove critical to improving food security. Meridian initiated a series of conversations with American university leaders and researchers to explore how these barriers could be minimized or removed altogether. Building upon initial interest, Meridian convened and facilitated an alliance to develop common IP management protocols for food security and other humanitarian applications of agricultural technologies. This collaboration gathered some of the largest holders of agricultural technology IP in the United States, including the University of California system, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, and Michigan State University.
PIPRA, a nonprofit organization, emerged from this alliance. Meridian helped design its governance model, maintaining the cooperative mission of the initial network while establishing its institutional home at the University of California, Davis. PIPRA remains active today: supporting collaborative IP management, creating information clearinghouses, and providing technical assistance. It continues to lead the charge for increased public access to science and technology, ensuring that developing countries can engage with the newest innovations in order to address their toughest challenges.