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Recognising and empowering unrealized demand

Conventional markets fail to serve the needs of poorer groups, or to address externalized environmental costs. There is an urgent need to develop, experiment with and improve institutions and mechanisms that empower these currently unrealized demands. Market mechanisms and political reforms both have an important role to play.

Resources on this CD

  1. Raphie Kaplinsky at the STEPS symposium, 2009: "Innovation capabilities are now widely diffused around the world. There’s a danger that we become fixated with the supply of innovation capabilities, but innovation is induced by the needs of users, so the key issue now is to create the demand for the sorts of innovation that satisfy the needs of development and that means encouraging a world in which poor people, and poor communities have greater income and greater political power. So to see innovation merely as the development of supply capabilities and not to set it in the wider context of political economy is to miss the point. Distribution is a precursor to relevant innovation"

  2. Soumya Dutta, National Convenor of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha (People’s Science Campaign in India) at the Delhi Manifesto roundtable: "One key area that we need to focus on – globally, nationally, and locally on these issues, are how this can be integrated with human rights, with a rights-perspective. Because everywhere science and technology is being applied or overwhelming cases, is those who can afford, those who can pay, those who are in power. Science and technology being utilised with the agenda of those selected people. This has to be changed, and the agenda of the large marginalised population has to come on top"

  3. The Hague Roundtable report by Ilse Oosterlaken, TU-Delft: highlights the need to 'incentivise morality’ and build institutions that drive innovation towards ethically-determined need, rather than conventional market demand.
  4. Janine Chantson at Nairobi TWAS roundtable: reporting back on behalf of the 'S&T Policies – General’ group, Janine Chantson describes funds, tax-breaks and other incentives in various African countries that foster innovation, including for 'social/public good’ objectives.

Additional online resources

(Internet connection required)
  1. Advance Market Commitments for Vaccines: Experimental initiatives involving advance market commitments are being applied to vaccines, but could be extended and adapted to other areas where needs do not transfer to market demand
  2. Elliot, K. and Hoffman, M. (2010) 'Pulling Agricultural Innovation into the Market’, Center for Global Development
  3. Fundação Banco do Brasil runs a prize programme awarding "social technologies" that are developed in partnership with the community and present effective solutions for social transformation
  4. Below the Radar: What does Innovation in the Asian driver economies have to offer other low income economies? (Innogen Working Paper 69). Driven by the burgeoning low-income markets in 'Asian driver’ economies, some anticipate a new generation in innovation systems, with the core development of low-income economy specific products and processes being located in low-income economies, particularly China and India, terming this "below the radar innovation".
  5. Stirling, A. 'Engaging Futures: Opening up choices on science and technology' A. Stirling, in K. Sykes et al, 'The Road Ahead: Public Engagement in Science and Technology', UK Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, London, 2009

We welcome examples of innovation for development.
Email us at steps-centre@ids.ac.uk