Inclusive Innovation

An Architecture for Policy Development

Published in: Innovation and Development, v. 4, no. 1, 2014, p. 33-54

Posted on on January 01, 2014

by Joanna Chataway, Rebecca Hanlin, Raphael Kaplinsky

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The past two decades have been characterized by an increasing uncoupling of economic growth and social and economic development. Outside of China, the numbers living in absolute poverty have remained stubbornly large; in Africa, they have increased substantially. Although this uncoupling has multiple sources, the trajectory of innovation (large in scale, capital intensive in nature and destructive of the environment) has contributed to these outcomes. Reorienting towards a more 'inclusive innovation' path has an important role to play in overcoming exclusion. However, we have only a weak understanding of the definition, nature and dynamics of inclusive innovation, and this paper seeks to fill this conceptual gap. It argues that inclusive innovation needs to be understood and developed in the context of a holistic conception of the innovation cycle, the distinction between process and product innovation and the roles played by the poor as both producers and consumer. It further charts the growing interest of private sector actors in inclusive innovation (including, but not confined to transnational corporations seeking the 'fortune at the bottom of the pyramid') and large global funds working in tandem with the private sector and governments. Consideration is also given to the role which growth trajectories play in determining the direction of innovation and in promoting linkages between the globally absolute poor (incomes below $1pd) and those with discretionary cash incomes living in the margins above $1pd. The paper concludes with a call for a more holistic and balanced approach to inclusive innovation to be adopted by a range of stakeholders so that resources are deployed most effectively to aid the recoupling of growth and development.

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