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Innovation in 'niches’ – appreciating, nurturing and enhancing learning

Transformative change will require the recognition and support of 'informal sector’ or 'grassroots’ innovations. These innovations are not often captured by existing metrics, but respond to specific development and sustainability challenges in diverse localities. Nurturing and supporting innovations in these 'niches’, both through publicising their successes and protecting them from powerful interests, is an important role for governments.

Resources on this CD

  1. Examples include Community-Led Total Sanitation, as discussed in 'Water’ Movik, S. and Mehta, L. (2009) Going with the Flow? Directions of Innovation in the Water and Sanitation Domain, STEPS Working Paper 29, Brighton: STEPS Centre
  2. Fred Steward seminar (audio), STEPS Centre, October 2008: “The challenge is to actually deliver serious support to some of the emerging business actors who threaten some of the incumbents (who have quite comfortable and intimate relationships with government)." Fred Steward is Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Brunel University.
  3. Presentation: Grassroots/bottom up innovation: how to facilitate emergence and flourishing by Adrian Smith, SPRU at the STEPS Centre Symposium 2009
  4. 'Transitions' Smith, A. and Stirling, A. (2008) Social-ecological resilience and sociotechnical transitions: critical issues for sustainability governance, STEPS Working Paper 8, Brighton: STEPS Centre

Additional online resources

(Internet connection required)
  1. The Honeybee Network fosters learning between innovators throughout India and the wider world, with videos from the Discovery Channel
  2. Rede de Tecnologia Social (Social Technologies Network), Brazil. STN gathers, organizes, articulates and integrates a range of institutions with the purpose of promoting sustainable development by way of a large scale diffusion and re-application of social technologies. Social Technology comprises products, techniques or replicable methodologies developed in interaction with the community and that must represent effective solution in terms of social transformation. Its main goals include to “practice democracy, dialogue, solidarity, decentralization without subordination, general accessibility, heterogenic viewpoints and social empowerment."

We welcome examples of innovation for development.
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