Our ability to deliver food security to the world’s poor in a sustainable way depends on three converging global challenges: climate change, population growth, and limited available natural resources. Understanding the severity of these challenges, and the actions that must be taken to successfully tackle them, is high on the international research agenda. Although the future is uncertain, it is possible to construct a range of likely scenarios, which are determined by a number of factors. This paper discusses changing trends, and provides recommendations for one of the principal factors driving the future of development: investments in international agricultural research. CIMMYT contributes to sustainable agriculture, rural development, and value chains for maize and wheat agri-food systems, with projects in more than 50 countries. Although most research has long been funded by public sector donors and philanthropic foundations, cooperation with the private agricultural industry is increasingly necessary to achieve desired development impacts. More specifically, cooperation between public and private sector institutions is essential to develop and utilize new technologies that address current and future food security challenges. Delivering joint, high-quality research will not only improve food products for clients and build farmers’ capacity, but also ensure that all partners benefit from cost-sharing and complementary technical expertise in precompetitive domains. Research will remain an academic undertaking, unless it is informed by real problems on farms and efforts are made to deliver solutions to real users. As compared to the traditional, separated approach, public-private collaborations will have the greatest impact on both agricultural productivity and long-term food security.