The Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) is an international non-governmental organization established in 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland whose primary objective is to strengthen research and innovation systems for equity and Development, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. COHRED offers effective solution to support sustainable research and innovation system. One of such solutions COHRED identified to develop research ethics management system – that accelerates and increases the quality of ethics review of health research. Therefore, in 2009, COHRED in collaboration with the South African Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa implemented the MARC Project which was funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
In 2012, the MARC project – Mapping of research ethics review and trial regulatory capacity in sub-Saharan Africa launched RHInnO Ethics– an web-based solution for ethics review, information management and processing and tracking of research applications throughout the entire life cycle of the research project and enables them to share standardised research guidelines. A COHRED owned secure cloud based online platform that aims takes away the complex process of creating paper-based data collection using a simple web application. It improves communication among the ethics review key players, including researchers, reviewers, and Research Ethics Committee (REC) administrators. The platform provides access to real-time alerts, issuance of automated certificates of approval, attaching and sharing of supporting documents and other supporting documents. It is specifically tailored to cater for the challenges experienced in Africa, including issues of low internet bandwidth, constant power outages and maintenance cost.
COHRED has always realised a need for supporting an African institution to have adequate local knowledge, skills and expertise, and tools to develop locally relevant solution since its inception. Therefore, to achieve its philosophy to build the capacity of national governments and institutions in Africa to enable them to contribute to finding sustainable solutions for their challenges was by setting up a local African based institution that could manage, coordinate, and promote key COHRED activities in African subcontinent. Building up on this realisation, EthiXPERT was registered in South Africa in 2018 which would have the capacity to take over the implementation and improvement of RHInnO Ethics in Africa. In 2020, COHRED decided to handover the management and coordination of RHInnO Ethics projects to EthiXPERT. COHRED thus views the establishment of EthiXPERT like universities worldwide would regard the creation of ‘spin-off’ companies that focuses on managing and improving specific innovation. By entering into a partnership with EthiXPERT as its legally approved successor in Africa, COHRED would have achieved its objective of enabling an African entity to take over and play its rightful role in strengthening research ethics capacity in Africa; by Africa and for Africa. Through this partnership, EthiXPERT will be supported to position itself as a viable company in Africa with the competence and expertise to support institutions in Africa to strengthen their research ethics capacity.