‘Innogen Insider’ · The latest from our blog

March 7, 2017

Growth with Apology: The Despondency in the African Rising Narrative

By By Fredrick Ajwang

Is Africa really on the rise, or rather was it really rising? A couple of years ago, to be precise in December 2011, The Economist Magazine published an issue based on the idea that Africa was on the rise. From henceforth the narrative of Africa rising became popular in academia and policy circles primed on the impressive growth data from the continent.

October 29, 2015

Innogen and IKD@OU at the 13th Globelics International Conference, 23rd – 25th September 2015: Havana, Cuba

300 researchers from more than 40 countries attended the 13th Globelics International Conference to share findings on innovation, economic development and social inclusion in developing countries. There was a large Innogen contingent and the theme, Innovation to Reduce Poverty and Inequalities for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, was ideally suited to our world-class research into the interconnections between industrial innovation and health.

July 9, 2015

OU DPP Guest Blog: Pharmaceutical Standards - A Challenging Balancing Act

By Dinar Kale

Drawing on a pilot study carried out in India, Kenya and South Africa with funding from IKD, a new policy brief from Innogen, Standards and Their Role in Pharmaceutical Upgrading in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, reveals that pharmaceutical standards have emerged as an undesirable barrier to market entry for firms based in African countries, which in turn impacts on development, health delivery and access to medicines. The financial cost and technical knowledge associated with complying with technology standards remains a significant challenge for developing country firms looking to upgrade their manufacturing facilities. This has created a major policy challenge for policy makers and regulators around the world, who want to facilitate the development of standards that will ensure safe, effective and quality products without their acting as barriers to development of local industries in African countries.

October 10, 2014

The poor and their health needs: hard-to-reach, still?

By Julius Mugwagwa

In early September, I attended a three-day Zimbabwe all stakeholder conference on health in Victoria Falls, as part of the ‘innovative spending in health’ project. This event revealed, among other challenges, that just over 10% of Zimbabwe’s 15 million population has medical aid cover. This means that the majority of the country’s urban and rural poor, and those in farming and other remote communities, cannot access private or specialist healthcare unless they can pay for the service out-of-pocket.

July 10, 2014

Pitfalls and Benefits of an STS-Africa Network

By Prof Norman Clark

Earlier this year, Prof Norman Clark participated in the STS-Africa meeting, ‘Mapping Science and Technology in Africa: Traveling technologies and global disorders” in Johannesburg, South Africa. A main component of the event was around establishing an STS community for sub-Saharan Africa, and Prof Clark reflects on the pitfalls and benefits of such an endeavour. At the STS-Africa conference, I gave a paper on research into use, and it became clear to me that many participants were not really understanding each other, and this was largely due to the wide range of disciplines present. One of the biggest barriers to creating an African STS community is the difficulty of establishing a viable language of discourse, and this is not really an “Africa” issue; it arises as a problem that confronts all interdisciplinary dialogue. What my be necessary is to pin down discourse to a set of STS issues that are indeed “African” (not just “South African”), which would encourage communication across disciplines and attract relevant funding.

July 10, 2014

Foresighting Trajectories for Advanced Innovative Technologies

There is a renewed determination in the UK to ensure that we capitalise on the excellence of our scientific research and capture the economic and societal benefits from the basic research that we fund. Many important initiatives from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), in collaboration with the Research Councils UK, are designed to support the translation from basic science to practical outcomes, encouraging public and private bodies to work together to facilitate innovation processes. These investments are leading to an innovation environment that may be better today than it has been in living memory.

February 14, 2014

Post-Competitive collaboration: a new concept for the era of big data and real world data?

By Joanna Chataway and Joyce Tait

We are now familiar with the idea of pre-competitive collaboration amongst firms. The idea is that there are areas of basic science, research and technology where firms, in many cases together with public sector researchers, benefit from investing jointly and sharing the outputs of work. The research is early stage and it would be wasteful for public and private sectors to carry out discrete research programmes, duplicating effort and not sharing results. There is much debate about how pre-competitive research should best be carried out in different areas of science and technology, but the concept is firmly rooted in current R&D practice and policy.

January 23, 2014

OU DPP Guest Blog: Local pharma in Africa - going nowhere, slowly?

By Julius Mugwagwa

A recent visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe for field work on the ESRC-funded ‘innovative spending in health’ project and NEPAD conference on medicines regulation and access confirmed to me that indeed the multi-pronged search for effective solutions to Africa’s health care challenges has resulted in unending academic, policy and practice debates on the role that local production and supply of pharmaceutical products can play in availing safe, efficacious, affordable and high-quality products. As players in the health care system face sustained pressure from rising health care costs, changing regulations and an influx of patients demanding the same or even better quality care, one consistent argument is that local production will contribute positively to health system targets, and is thus a good place to spend the ‘health dollars’.

December 12, 2013

ESRC Future of the UK & Scotland: White paper reflections – Health and Clinical Research

By James Mittra

This article was originally produced for the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland blog on 2 December 2013. The recently published Scottish White Paper on independence includes a relatively small section on health, social care and the NHS (pages 170-176), as part of a larger chapter on Health, Wellbeing and Social Protection (chapter 4). Like the rest of the document, the narrative is very positive in explaining the many benefits that have come with devolution, such as allowing Scotland to respond to its own national needs, which are different from the rest of the UK. The unique challenges that continue to face Scotland are also outlined and full independence is presented as creating new opportunities to respond to these more effectively. As many commentators have pointed out, however, the document is weighty in terms of the sheer volume of pages, but rather light on detail. This is perhaps unsurprising when considering the range of issues that are implicated in the independence debate.

December 4, 2013

ESRC Future of the UK & Scotland: Science, research and Scottish independence?

By Omid Omidvar

This article was originally produced for the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland blog on 4 December 2013. In November, two papers were published regarding the future of Scotland. The first, ‘Scotland analysis: Science and research’, written by the UK government, and unveiled by David Willetts, UK Science Minister earlier in November, focuses solely on the issues related to science and research in Scotland, whereas the second one, a Scottish Government White Paper, addresses a whole range of issues associated with independence in Scotland with a brief discussion of the futures of science and higher education in Scotland (Chapter 5- Education, Skills and Employment). Both papers testify to the strength of the Scottish science base and the contribution of Scottish universities to the UK research base as a whole. They agree on the significance and success of the presently developed research infrastructure, funding system, collaboration platforms and research support organisations across the UK. The importance of the mutually reinforcing research capabilities developed across the boundaries of the UK in a single integrated system goes unquestioned in both papers.

October 31, 2013

'Golden rice', 'wicked' NGOs and the need for rational dialogue

By Joyce Tait

Those opposed to GM crops in developing countries are “wicked”, according to the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson. In a recent interview with The Independent, Mr Paterson backed an open-letter by international scientists calling for the rapid development of “golden rice” – a vitamin A-enhanced rice strain, which scientists believe capable of helping save the lives of around 670,000 children in third world countries who die each year from the deficiency and another 350,000 who go blind. Mr Paterson attacked NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for their opposition to GM technology.

October 31, 2013

Regional Innovation Policies in a Globally Connected Environment: Lessons from Europe

By Michele Mastroeni

This article was originally produced for the CIPS Blog at the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa, as a preview to Michele Mastroeni's CIPS Lecture on 18 October 2013. Industry leaders and governments have pursued innovation as a source of economic growth for the last two decades. While firms have been striving to harness innovation in order to move beyond their competitors, governments have struggled to find a way to create and maintain an environment that encourages innovation within their jurisdictional boundaries. The European Union’s efforts to encourage innovation-led economic growth focus predominantly on the regional level of governance, with its most recent approach being ‘Smart Specialisation’. Smart Specialisation offers a potential solution to Europe’s challenges in pursuing its innovation agenda—but as described to date, such an approach is limited.

October 9, 2013

Interrogation of the ‘inclusive innovation’ concept

By Rebecca Hanlin

Is the Tata Nano an example of ‘inclusive innovation’? What about solar lighting? How do we determine what is inclusive or pro-poor? Is it about the degree of income generation or saving that is created, the degree of viable business opportunity that a new product creates or is it about the process of innovation around the product more generally? On 6-8 July researchers from around the world gathered at the Open University to discuss these questions, and particularly what we mean by ‘inclusive innovation’. Over one and a half days using a range of interactive sessions – many conducted outside in the sunshine as the UK basked in an heat wave – researchers considered how their own standpoint – and not just current research results – determine how we think about inclusive innovation.

October 1, 2013

The Green Party - A new found faith in science?

By Joyce Tait

Caroline Lucas, MP and Leader of the Green Party, took part in Friday's Any Questions on BBC Radio 4 (Listen here). In her response to a question on whether climate change is man-made - in the context of the IPCC report - she seemed to have rediscovered a faith in science as a basis for policy decision making. A few choice soundbites: "This is a rigorous, robust piece of research, compelling" "We can now put aside the question of whether the science is right ...98% of scientists say that it is ...We should get on and start talking about what we're going to do about it" "It is a concern that even as the science becomes more certain, the public opinion is more confused. That is something we absolutely have to address head-on" "I was quite shocked...At the 1 o'clock news ...A large amount of time was given over to someone who was bringing the science into doubt." "We shouldn't only talk in terms of uncertainty but also talk in terms of risk - when you say the word uncertain people think in terms of ignorant..."

September 24, 2013

Interdisciplinary Doctorates for International Development

By James Smith

We are pleased to welcome a cohort of four new PhD students whose doctoral research will focus on how we stop the ‘neglect’ of African Neglected Zoonotic Diseases (NZDs). These ESRC and University of Edinburgh-funded students will contribute to the INZI project. The group of a dozen or so so-called ‘neglected tropical diseases’ (NTDs) infect one billion people at any one time and more than one third of the world’s population – almost all in the poorest parts of the world - is exposed to these diseases. Infected individuals often suffer from multiple debilitating infections, limiting life and livelihoods, requiring expensive treatment and consequently driving cycles of poverty. An especially problematic sub-set of NTDs are also zoonotic, and are the focus of this research. These endemic or (re)emerging diseases infect humans and animals, and often transfer by vectors, which presents greater challenges for control and treatment. They are also contingent on changing environmental contexts, and generate new risks in terms of food insecurity and emergent disease.

August 7, 2013

OU DPP Guest Blog: Punching above their weight in pursuit of good health

By Julius Mugwagwa

A field trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa in July for meetings and discussions with stakeholders as part of the innovative spending in health project was, as expected, thought-provoking in more ways than one. Discussions with various people in the continuum, from ordinary people and families in rural communities to leading academics and surgeons, revealed that indeed there are many innovative practices being employed for the sake of delivering health to people. As would be expected, the practices have positive and negative effects alike on the individuals, institutions and the broader health care system.

July 1, 2013

Discussing the Life Science Innovation Imperative

By Professor David Wield

There is an economic and moral imperative to innovate. Yet, advances in the life sciences meant to deliver significant socio-economic benefits in health, agriculture and the environment are often constrained by developmental and regulatory dynamics. This was the basis for a session organised by the new Innogen Institute (daughter of the ESRC Innogen Centre) on the 'Life Science Innovation Imperative' at the Science and Innovation Conference.

June 25, 2013

Transformation in Africa

By Professor David Wield

Many African economies have been growing quickly in the last decade and are far from the ‘basket cases’ portrayed in many media and, sadly, research reports. The countries I know best, Tanzania and Mozambique, have more than doubled their economic activity in the last ten years – the differences are very tangible in trade and investment data.

May 6, 2013

Want to help remove the Neglect from Neglected Tropical Diseases?

By Innogen

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) infect over a billion people, causing significant illness and death and limiting lives and livelihoods in poor countries. Yet, they have received far less attention than diseases like HIV and malaria and relatively little regarding research, control and treatment.

April 26, 2013

Centre for African Studies, Edinburgh offers PhD studentships in neglected zoonotic diseases

By Innogen

The Centre for African Studies at the University of Edinburgh is looking for three outstanding candidates to explore crucial yet neglected issues in the governance of human and animal health.

April 2, 2013

A BIG impact on the bioeconomy

By Innogen

In Europe, the bioeconomy makes €2 trillion a year and employs more than 22 million people. Innogen’s Masters in Management of Bioeconomy, Innovation and Governance (MSc BIG) is targeted at this rapidly evolving sector.

April 1, 2013

OU DPP Guest Blog: Mission Possible

By Julius Mugwagwa

Spending a week each in South Africa and Zimbabwe doing a pilot study for my new ESRC-funded project on ‘innovative spending in global health’ from the end of February to early March was indeed an eye and ear opener…for me and the various people I met and talked to.

February 15, 2013

Technology, justice and inspirational innovation

By James Smith

Technology is inextricably linked to development, but that may be a problem. Because if we have access to the results of technology - clean water, for example - we become blind to the technology itself.