This discussion paper has been prepared for participants attending a workshop at the Graduate Institute in Geneva on 24 April 2013 to explore ideas for securing collective action towards a credible platform for monitoring, coordinating, and financing research and development (R&D) for the health needs of people living in low- and middle-income countries. The workshop will divide into two streams for intensive discussions: one dealing with governance issues while the other examines priority setting approaches. In the accompanying Background Paper 2, we describe potential governance approaches to implement demonstration projects, as requested in the draft resolution which will be discussed at the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2013, and how they can be scaled up into a sustained, long-term solution. Paper 2 draws on experiences from international cooperation across health, environmental, and agricultural sectors and examines what the global system for health R&D can learn from them. It then provides a list of questions to lead the workshop discussions in exploring scenarios for creating a global R&D platform. Within the platform that is eventually chosen by the global community, it will be necessary to engage in prioritization processes to decide how best to use the available R&D resources. In the present Background Paper, we summarize the need for and some potential approaches to priority setting processes; consider the attributes of one option presented as an example of priority setting; and provide a list of questions to lead the workshop discussions in exploring scenarios for R&D priority setting.