Innovation is important to help the world grow and develop. In order to keep ideas and technology fresh and current, innovation must constantly be improved. The speed of innovation in the developed world seems to be at a breakneck speed, in every industry. But it seems as if innovation slows dramatically or stalls all together in developing countries, where they need it the most.
There are a few ways we can improve innovation in developing countries, that are applicable to all industries:
- A local solution for a local problem. By thinking and creating locally where the innovation will be applied, creates a faster time-to-market and a higher implementation rate. Firstly, there is local pride in a home-grown solution, and secondly the costs associated with the development and implementation are lower.
- By understanding the actual versus perceived need, the right solution will be created. What many in the developed world fail to realize is that the solutions of one area are not directly applicable to the issues and solutions needed in another. The infrastructure is different, the technology for support functions are often non-existent, and what is needed is often more simple than an over-engineered solution.
- Create structures that foster innovation. By having a support system of like minded entrepreneurs, knowledge sharing, resource sharing, proof-of-concept testing, and access to launch assistance tend to fast-track innovation to the market. The development to management and talent are also crucial, as discussed in this World Bank article http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/10/02/low-innovation-is-a-critical-barrier-to-developing-country-growth
Innovation in the developing world can best be fostered within incubators, innovation hubs, innovation challenges, that all create an access to capital. They are structured programs and collectives that allow for the sharing of costs and resources, which is crucial in the developing world as capital and skilled resources are scarce that understand what is needed to allow innovation to succeed. In my work with a client located in Africa, we have co-located them in an innovation hub in order to foster the collaboration and share the costs with the collective. Access to social entrepreneurs and innovators can help to choose, fund, and scale businesses that are right for the market they are serving. It also provides organized assistance and connections to capital, which is crucial to continue innovation.
The biggest issue for developing country innovation is the lack of investment capital. Available capital ensures the businesses can grow and reach the people the innovation is intended for. Frontier funds who are investing in the developing world are paving the way forward for innovation in developing countries. These funds are also providing expertise to grow the businesses. Availability of capital and talent are two of the best and easiest ways for the developed world to improve innovation in developing countries around the world.