What Is a HIBAR Project?

Highly Integrative Basic And Responsive (HIBAR) research projects are the type of projects that pursue basic knowledge while addressing urgent societal challenges. HIBAR projects are co-led by collaborative cross-sectoral teams, including both academics and experts working outside of basic research who bring leadership skills and deep understanding of a societal problem. Researchers in all fields, including social sciences, humanities, science, engineering, and medicine, are central to many HIBAR projects.

HIBAR projects are:

  • Highly Integrative because they deeply integrate different motivations, theories, methods, and participants; and
  • Basic and Responsive because they embrace the academic character and purpose of basic research while addressing societal challenges.

Why is this category of research projects important?

The inherent synergy within a HIBAR research project accelerates knowledge creation and generates better solutions, making a distinct and valuable contribution to the research landscape.

This synergy is the result of:  

  • Shared leadership by people in academia and society, working in an equitable partnership: The diverse perspectives they bring to the project mean that, together, they make wiser decisions about the direction, participants, and activities within the project – from the start and throughout.
  • Integrated purposes of seeking new knowledge and addressing a problem in society: Together, these purposes lead project teams, informed by the context of the societal challenge, to draw from a wider set of knowledge and skills, and to combine a wider range of problem-solving methods.

Sustained urgency is a hallmark of a HIBAR research project: team members are passionate about addressing the societal problem as quickly as possible, while recognizing that building the required deep understanding takes time.

What are some examples of HIBAR projects?

HIBAR projects have a long history of profound breakthroughs. The advent of the transistor is an often-cited 20th century example and the development of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology is a fascinating modern one. HIBAR research projects have always existed in universities, but they have been less common than the usual forms of basic or applied research. Nevertheless, there are many excellent examples, some of which are highlighted on our HIBAR projects page.

Watch a short video

In the short video below, Alliance Director Lorne Whitehead describes the characteristics of HIBAR research projects.