Innovation Systems for Development

Innovation Systems for Development

Making Research and Innovation in Developing Countries Matter

Edited by Bo Göransson, Claes Brundenius and Carlos Aguirre-Bastos

The rise and expansion of organized scientific research has led individuals to become accustomed to an unceasing delivery of new scientific results and technical improvements that resolve even seemingly unsolvable problems. This timely book examines how science-based research and innovation is designed, implemented and applied in developing countries in support of development and poverty alleviation. The expert contributors trace and compare the emergence of national innovation systems (NIS) in four developing countries – Bolivia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam. Dedicated chapters on each country identify the main structural and organizational problems for improving the relevance and quality of research output for the productive sector, and conclude by offering suggestions on how the process of applying research outputs and innovations in support of development goals can be improved.

Chapter 1: Science, technology and innovation for whom?

Bo Göransson

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


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?