Policies to Support Inclusive Innovation

Christopher Foster and Richard Heeks


Innovation can help fight inequality and social exclusion. But, at present, there are too many barriers to this form of “inclusive innovation”. New government policies are essential to reduce these barriers and new measures are needed to drive inclusive innovation forward.  These must encourage formal innovation systems to focus on the poor; help low-income actors to adapt, diffuse and use innovations; and work to address structural roadblocks.

In addition, new policy worldviews, processes and structures are required. This paper outlines a systemic approach that explains the rationale, objectives, goals, instruments and governance which will help governments support the expansion of inclusive innovation.

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Educators’ guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What is inclusive innovation?  [Section A]
  2. What justifies government intervention in inclusive innovation?  [Section A]
  3. How is an inclusive innovation policy worldview different from a traditional innovation policy worldview?  [Section B1]
  4. How are inclusive innovation policy objectives different from traditional innovation policy objectives?  [Section B2]
  5. What key components should form part of an inclusive innovation policy?  [Section B3]
  6. What processes and structures should be adopted for inclusive innovation policy?  [Section B4]

Development questions

  1. How would you persuade policy-makers in a developing country to develop an inclusive innovation policy?
  2. Which would you give highest priority to: improving inclusive innovation policy content, or policy process, or policy structure?
  3. Find a real-world example of an inclusive innovation policy.  How similar / different is the content to that outlined in the paper?  What conclusions do you draw?
  4. Find a real-world example of an inclusive innovation initiative.  How did policy impact the initiative?  What conclusions do you draw?