The above images are from case studies featured in the ‘Strategies for Supporting Inclusive Innovation: Insights from Southeast Asia’

Why Inclusive Innovation Matters and Needs a Direction — strategies for making it happen

By Giulio Quaggiotto, Head of the Regional Innovation Centre, UNDP Asia and the Pacific

Innovation is not neutral: it has both a rate and, crucially, a direction. The style of innovation frequently touted as the answer is often not inclusive at all — it can exacerbate social and economic inequality and have unintended environmental consequences.

As current events across the globe are demonstrating, the “move fast and break things” mantra so dear to technoutopians is producing many detrimental effects, eroding trust and locking us up into obsolete logic of development.

We believe that there is a major opportunity for policy makers in the Asia Pacific region to play an active role in creating the conditions for a different type of innovation: one that is not focused on single point solutions but more coherent to the nature of the complex challenges faced by the region. A type of innovation that fosters inclusion and reinforces the SDGs, rather than exacerbating inequality.

So, this report is driven by one fundamental question: are we seeing models of inclusive innovation emerging in the Asia Pacific region and, if so, are they pointing to concrete alternatives to the dominating innovation narrative (driven by Silicon Valley)?

To answer this question, we partnered with Nesta, building on their comprehensive framework of inclusive innovation, to produce case studies from across ASEAN countries, particularly Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Viet Nam. The research team conducted dozens of interviews with key stakeholders from grassroots to government to seek patterns and outliers. In Viet Nam, UNDP is currently hosting a series of conversations with different stakeholders on the practical implications of adopting an inclusive innovation framework.

This report draws on the insights from these case studies, to present concrete recommendations for policymakers in Asia and the Pacific who are interested is developing a more coherent approach to innovation as a means of addressing societal challenges and fostering more inclusive ecosystems. We hope that many will take up the challenge. We firmly believe that those governments who shape the innovation narrative around inclusion will reap major benefits and induce new dynamics that will help achieve the SDGs.

Please take a look and let us know your thoughts, considerations, and if you note gaps. More importantly, do get in touch if you want to further pursue this research agenda and if you want to work on concrete initiatives that can demonstrate the value of an inclusivity in innovation policies and projects. The strategies set forth are not a final statement — they are a starting point for a collective inquiry.

Want to get more involved?

Join us on Twitter @ricap_undp and join the #inclusiveinnovation #NextGenUNDP conversation and register here to join the Live Digital Report Launch with the authors on Thursday, March 26 at 2pm Bangkok.

This session will be held live on Zoom; please note that advanced meeting registration is required:

Looking to download the report PDF? You can find it on any of the following sites, along with other publications: Global UNDP, Asia and the Pacific UNDP, Vietnam UNDP, Philippines UNDP, Myanmar UNDP, Indonesia UNDP

Contribute to the agenda or let us know about others working with #InclusiveInnovation in similar ways outlined in the report? You can continue the conversation with UNDP Regional Innovation Center’s Head of Exploration, Courtney Savie Lawrence by sending a Direct Message via the RIC Team Twitter here or through LinkedIn here. We are seeking more examples from the ecosystem.



Regional Innovation Centre UNDP Asia-Pacific

Doing development differently through designing, developing, curating, collating and championing innovation and digital across the Asia Pacific Region.