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Cristina Chaminade and Ramón Padilla-Pérez

This chapter aims at discussing the main challenges of designing and implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) policies in developing countries. In particular, it addresses the problems of: a) aligning STI policies with the national economic development agenda, as well as coordinating STI policies among different ministries and other public organizations, and among diverse government levels (horizontal alignment); and b) aligning rationales, objectives, instruments and specific problems of the system (vertical alignment). In addition, the main barriers for designing and implementing STI policies are examined. The chapter combines theory and concepts with examples of STI policy design and implementation in Asian and Latin American countries to illustrate the arguments. The analysis of STI policies as innovation system policies suggests that developing countries need policies that are comprehensive, evidence based, long-term and aligned.

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Mónica Salazar

Since 2009, there have been several profound transformations of the Colombian National System of Science, Technology and Innovation, such as a new law for science, technology and innovation (STI) and a new STI fund, whose resources come from royalties from the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources. These changes present opportunities, challenges and threats to Colciencias, the Colombian government agency in charge of research and innovation funding and promotion. Certainly, the 10 per cent of royalties for STI activities and the creation of iNNpulsa – a new government agency promoting innovation and entrepreneurship – can be seen as both opportunities and threats. The royalties certainly are a major driver of change, since they have come with new rules and funding mechanisms, and these resources are much greater than Colciencias’s budget. Many questions arise: Will the governance of Colciencias and the system be affected? How? Will Colciencias be able to learn from the past, or will it fail to adapt to new circumstances? This chapter tries to answer these questions after presenting the governance practices developed by Colciencias over its 45 years of existence.

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Pierre Delvenne and François Thoreau

In this chapter, the authors engage with the widespread and influential approach of national innovation systems (NISs). They discuss its adequacy to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, especially in Latin America, where it is abundantly implemented and tends to be reified, which leads to a situation where relevant contextual elements tend to be ignored. Although the NISs approach is meant to address the most pressing needs of the economies it applies to, namely solving poverty, reducing social inequalities, increasing productivity and creating jobs, the authors argue that it would benefit from developing a more encompassing scope, allowing integration of greater diversity and complexity. By retracing the history of regimes of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Latin America, the authors explore the problems faced by actors willing to use NISs more reflexively. They hereby discuss the effectiveness of STI policies in non-OECD countries. Finally, they formulate a research agenda with three suggestions for further engaging NISs both conceptually and practically. Using such analytical perspectives, they argue, might benefit scholarly work about NISs and could also allow for a better articulation with STI regimes in Southern countries.

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Pablo Catalán

To address the so-called water supply and sanitation (WSS) crisis is a global responsibility. Nowadays, 663 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion still use unimproved sanitation facilities. The want of hygiene and sanitary conditions for such a large population is resulting in devastating health, social and economic costs, particularly for women and children. Therefore the quest for WSS solutions is of high priority. Scholars have noticed that currently the problem-solving process is not responding to a fruitful collaboration paradigm. There is a gap to bridge between highly skilled professionals and policymakers in the wealthiest nations, and end users in the developing world, where most of those in need live. That is how the innovations provided thus far, though confronting complex problems, are not always well suited to the actual requirements of end users. The chapter explores the dynamics of the establishment of rural community-based innovation systems in order to understand patterns of interaction and learning leading to sustainable WSS solutions. Case studies in three rural communities in Costa Rica regarding two public WSS programmes confirm that communitarian leadership, skills and sense of ownership are the factors mostly driving local WSS innovation.

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Abdelkader Djeflat

In many developing countries, innovation dynamics is confronted with a very specific environment characterized by the rise of very small enterprises and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) with little experience in the fields of R & D, relatively weak industrial performance in terms of productivity, and high levels of obsolescence in terms of both human resources and equipment. This is partly the result of a long-lasting deindustrialization phenomenon. While the approach in terms of national systems of innovation (NSIs) attracts a great deal of attention from policymakers and researchers, several attempts to trigger innovation through this approach have failed, mostly as a result of a poor understanding of how innovation systems emerge in non-catch-up countries. The emerging innovation systems (EIS) approach proposed in this chapter rests on the premise that innovation takes off in a variety of ways, needing both strong policy impulses from government and adequate market dynamics. The chapter addresses the fundamental question of how innovation emergence takes place in late-industrializing countries such as the North African countries, in terms of both policies and conceptual framework, and draws heavily from the Algerian experience.

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Eduardo Robles-Belmont and Dominique Vinck

The emerging science and technologies are accompanied by new dynamics in the production, use and dissemination of knowledge. In innovation processes we find new dynamics also where, through the processes of mutual learning, the actors achieve the performance of new functions. This chapter focuses on the study of development of microtechnologies in Mexico, where we observed the presence of an actor that is not taken into account by theoretical models on technological change and innovation processes. This actor is the Mexico–United States Foundation for Science, a non-governmental organization with philanthropic origins, which has played important roles in the development of microtechnologies in Mexico. Our observations lead us to question how to model the relationships among different organizations involved in the production, use and dissemination of new knowledge. This study aims to show how, in the new dynamics of technological development, different organizations from those that traditionally participate are fulfilling new functions in those processes. This results in a different arrangement among the organizations participating in scientific and technological systems, where each body fulfils one or a number of functions and this joint arrangement ensures the functioning of the system.

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Jaap Voeten

Innovation is increasingly acknowledged as essential for economic growth in developing countries. However, do current formal science, technology and innovation (STI)-based policy approaches involve the right assumptions and provide the appropriate models for such contexts? In some places the informal institutions play an important role in exerting the functions of an innovation system as well. Empirical evidence from small business clusters in northern Vietnam show how informal institutions provide an enabling environment for innovation. The evidence suggests a more complementary role for innovation policy in supporting the informal institutional context, rather than overruling or replacing it by formal STI institutions. Moreover, the innovation manifestations in the research cases implied negative environmental and social externalities. The proposed concept of ‘inclusive innovation’, modelled as a societal process, refers to small producers initiating and owning the innovation process, appropriating the created value and acknowledging responsibility for the negative externalities. The study suggests that policy for ‘inclusive innovation’ in the context of these small producers’ clusters should focus on facilitating the dynamics of the societal process by monitoring and safeguarding the quality of the societal process.

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Jeffrey Orozco

This chapter presents the analysis of a project that evaluated the innovation enhancement capabilities in the small-scale fishing sector in the Gulf of Fonseca, observing the three countries concerned: El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. To address the issue the author focuses on the innovation systems literature, combining it with essential elements of the literature on global commodity chains. He also introduces the concept of inclusive growth. Each of these concepts provides a particular contribution to the analysis. The author also uses the notion of the innovation policy dance to consider the interactive learning processes among actors in different spheres. The study has shown that the conditions of governance within the value chain hinder the options to innovate. Many of the ideas that could improve economic performance in the short term could seriously compromise the sustainability of the fishery resources. Other ideas cannot be put into practice because the innovation system does not provide financial resources or conditions to generate and transmit knowledge. Innovative initiatives that have the most potential are located in the framework of the diversification of production to other activities, especially within the tourism industry or agricultural production.

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Mario Scerri

This chapter applies a novel ‘modes of innovation’ approach to the understanding of the evolution of two national systems of innovation in Africa. The basic theoretical foundation of this concept lies in a theory of value formulated in terms of streams of innovation, where the definition of innovation is drawn from a broad national system of innovation perspective. The chapter offers a classification system which helps to locate specific national systems of innovation within the global system of innovation according to a number of linked criteria. In the case of Africa the categorization of modes of innovation is specifically linked to the colonial and post-colonial phases. One of the parameters which differentiate the different modes is the nature of the engagement of African national systems of innovation with the global political economy. The chapter first develops the theoretical base of the modes of innovation concept. It then applies a classification system developed from this concept to a general case of African NSIs. It goes on to develop the analysis for South Africa and Tanzania as a historical account of two relative outliers within the generalized context of Africa’s post-colonial history. The concluding section looks at the policy implications of this approach.