Linking Innovation and Development has long been the mantra of many development programmes aimed at fostering and building the knowledge and information society. The reality check has been that however close the linkages may seem, the practical implications and tangible outcomes of an Innovation for Development programme are much harder to elucidate and demonstrate to those who truly need the spin offs from an innovative society – the poor and disadvantaged and those surviving in the informal economy, a characteristic that is shared by many developing economies. One approach to overcome this paucity of good examples of practical innovation for development is to focus resources and research outputs directed towards communities and main beneficiaries of technology. This is another pillar of achieving economic improvement in that the focus is on technology transfer to communities, and using innovation to solve the socio economic problems of the poor.
In this manner, a mechanism is introduced that reduces the disparity that emerges when countries drive an innovation agenda and that is often perceived: “That the access to innovation sometimes often favours the community with resources and it disfavours those who have no resources to procure that innovation.” Thus efforts to promote inclusive innovation to bring about equity include making access and affordability as the key drivers for investment in innovation, and the main objective is in introducing affordable access to innovative technologies that can make a significant socio economic impact. Furthermore an inclusive innovation approach also supports the goal to develop public service innovation and access and delivery of basic services for society at large, thus enhancing the development agenda.
SAIS adopts and strongly supports the multihelix approach in all our engagements. Our support of inclusive innovation initiatives demonstrates this approach in which active and strategic engagement is encouraged amongst the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society. Some of the key initiatives that may be encouraged and supported under the inclusive innovation theme are:
- Providing resources to projects that clearly demonstrate the intent to use existing technology and modify and engage the end users more strategically in an effort to provide affordable innovative technologies that can be transferred to communities;
- Support of projects that demonstrate the key driver to develop and customise innovative solutions with the poorly resourced end user in mind – this can span across various sectors and may even involve multidisciplinary teams;
- Support of technologies that clearly demonstrate that the ultimate goal is to drive employment creation and sustainable livelihoods, enabling so called grassroots innovation;
- Stimulating partner countries to look at the incentives, policies and drivers they have for investing in innovation activities driven towards enhancing socio economic impact; Supporting innovation value chain networks that drive inclusive innovation in their implementation plans;
- Promoting and supporting more marginalised women in the innovation value chain and supporting the sustainable economic empowerment of women engaged in innovation.