In the biography of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1273), among other sources, we learn that:
The observatory at Maragheh (Persia) became operational in 1262. The Persians were assisted by Chinese astronomers in the construction and operation of the observatory.
This collaboration was initiated by Mongolians, who were ruling both China and Persia at the time.
Was it the first specific-purpose-driven international research institution (like CERN these days) or was there anything similar before?