Making Research and Innovation in Developing Countries Matter
Edited by Bo Göransson, Claes Brundenius and Carlos Aguirre-Bastos
Chapter 1: Science, technology and innovation for whom?
With the rise of organized scientific research, we have grown accustomed to an unceasing delivery of new scientific results and technical improvements that resolve even seemingly unsolvable problems. The share of humanity that reaps the fruits of this tremendous technological progress, however, has been and continues to be unevenly distributed around the globe as research efforts are typically directed towards solving problems facing an urbanized Western population. In the 1990s, the Global Forum for Health Research estimated that only 10 per cent of the world research effort is devoted to meeting the health needs of 90 per cent of the population. Although progress has been made since then (GFHR, 2004), this bias towards population groups with higher purchasing power persists and is not confined to the health area. Perhaps more surprising is that research done by researchers in developing countries also has a similar 10/90 gap. Knowledge exists, but there do not seem to be enough interest or incentives in the innovation system to solve urgent problems of poor communities. This begs the following questions: Who sets the research agendas? Are they mostly decisions of the researchers themselves? Are they the priorities of the funding agencies? Is the research agenda the demand of those who are able to pay for research, for instance, pharmaceutical companies, or is it user-driven and inclusive, set by those most in need of the research results? And last, but not least, how are the scientific results used to inform policy makers?