Innovation and inclusive development in the South: a Critical Perspectivei Mariano Fressoli Rafael Dias Hernán Thomas

1. Introduction In spite of decades of economic and social growth paired with important scientific and technological advances, a large fraction of the world population still lives in poverty. The lack of access to proper basic services and goods such as water supply and sanitation, medical care, food, housing and energy constitutes a critical problem for the poor (UN, 2011). Latin America, despite its recent growth and general reduction of poverty, continues to be one of the most unequal regions in the world (Eclac, 2011). Some of the most “traditional” strategies based on growth spillover by developed countries or through the increase in conspicuous consumption are gradually being set aside, having become the object of criticism, mainly because of the environmental pressure they produce. In many cases, it has been noted that economic growth (measured mostly by GDP) is either no longer accompanied by an increase of employment levels (jobless growth) or is itself leading to their reduction (job loss growth) (Chesnais, 1994). Solving central problems of poverty like housing, food security, sanitation-service access, transportation and sustainable production requires strong state investment in infrastructure. The solution to these problems requires the ability to develop suitable technological approaches to existing problems and resources. The technological complexity of these problems shapes new experimental spaces for new Science and Technology policy efforts. In this context, some institutions and social movements have begun to consider new forms of social intervention, of provision of basic services and of income generation outside the traditional spaces of private firms and state institutions. This has led to questions such as: what is the role, the direction and the locus of innovation in shaping sustainable societies and promoting social inclusion? Thus, the general tendency to associate the production of “frontier scientific knowledge” and “high technologies” as privileged spaces for social change is being increasingly questioned (Abrol, 2005, Thoma, 2009). And so the processes by which other actors – such as local communities – systematically produce creative solutions to the problems they face daily have recently stirred a lot of interest in several parts of the world, including South America. These experiences have shown that innovation may have a wider reach than the production of temporary monopolies that serve only to maximize private gains (Kaplinsky, 2011). They have also shown that the traditional spaces of innovation and knowledge production (firms, universities, research institutions) may generate new products and services that benefit not only those that have access to the numerous possibilities of consumption that global capitalism provides, but also those individuals and groups that are not included in this context. Evidently, the association between innovation, development and social inclusion is not new. During the 20th century several social movements in developing countries –

Appropriate Technologies, Intermediate Technologies, Village Technologies, etc - have tried to create, with different results, technological alternatives that would lead to more inclusive development dynamics (Fressoli, Smith y Thomas, 2011; Willoughby, 1990; Dickson, 1974). In Latin America, this discussion was also present in the works of authors such as Varsavsky (1976) and Herrera (1983). What seems to be a new element in this debate is the recent proposal to redirect part of science, technology and innovation policies from private firms to the civil society, focusing on the poor. Many international organizations –, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are currently designing specific, programmes, courses, workshops and studies on the topic of inclusive innovationii. Meanwhile, countries such as India and Brazil (and to a lesser extent Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay) have begun to explore new policies that combine innovation and social inclusion. While there seems to be a consensus about the need to redirect some of the innovation efforts towards the construction of responses to the pressing issues of poverty and social exclusion, it is still unclear what the best ideas, strategies and institutional designs would be in order to achieve this objective. The particular motivations that drive actors towards this common goal are also plural and frequently ambiguous. While some of these initiatives arose with the aim of empowering people’s access to science and technology and democratizing its uses and policies, others regard pro-poor innovation as a way to create new markets by translating informal into formal, capitalist economies. Therefore, the issue of innovation and inclusive development has become a contested space where several actors are advocating their own visions, strategies and networks. Obviously, this growing debate will (and already has) enrich ideas and projects about innovation and development in South America and around the world. But, as in other cases (see Varsavsky, 1969), there is also a risk that the linear adoption of these visions by policy makers in S&T might generate distorted strategies, unsuitable for the region. Adopting ideas in innovation and development designed for different situation could easily disrupt emerging local alternatives, networks and strategies. Attention to this dilemma is important, since although those experimental spaces are flourishing, most of them, like the Social Technology Network in Brazil and Technology for Social Inclusion Network in Argentina, are still fragile and marginal actors -especially regarding more established S&T institutions. This paper explores two different theoretical approaches on the subject that have, to different extents, influenced the emergent movement towards inclusive innovation in Latin America: the “grassroots innovation” approach proposed chiefly by A. Gupta and the “base of the pyramid” approach, derived from the works of C. K. Prahalad. A review of key works by these authors, based on a socio-technical perspective, was conducted. We have emphasized the theoretical elements and the strategies these perspectives suggest, the sociotechnical alliancesiii they favor (or may favor) and the proposals of technical change and social inclusion they promote. We expect the analysis of these elements to provide a critical description of these two approaches, while also stressing their potentialities and limits. Finally, in the light of similar experiences in Argentina and Brazil, we provide brief recommendations for the design of new public policies on science, technology and social inclusion in Latin America. 1. Grassroots innovations

The perspective of grassroots innovations is mainly concerned with the asymmetries of knowledge production relations between S&T institutions and local communities. This concern also implies a critique of the imposition of industrial development models to local communities and of the risks of economic exploitation and environmental damage they pose. This view, sustained mainly by A. Gupta, has led to the establishment of the Honey Bee Network (HBN) in India (which later expanded into other countries). The HBN is constituted of several institutions committed to the goal of fostering inclusive innovation in local communities. Here we explore some of the main conceptual elements of this perspective, as well as the strategies adopted by HBN. Main elements and strategies Grassroots innovations may be defined as those that are based on modern or traditional knowledge, simple and cheap to develop, capable of providing efficiency gains to the productive environment and an increase in the living standards of communities (Gupta et al., 2003). According to Gupta (1996), the organizations aimed towards promoting development commonly ignore the “ecological” complexity of poor environments and the communities’ multiple strategies and objectives. The scarce importance given to local capacities is also common in the way in which S&T institutions interact with communities. Generally these relationships do not take locally produced knowledge into account. And when they do, they tend to treat it in an utilitarian fashion (Gupta, 1994). In this sense, the act of extracting and formalizing traditional knowledge by these organizations not only seems unfair in economic and cognitive terms, but also unsustainable in the long term. Seeking to transcend this passive approach towards fighting poverty and exclusion, Gupta proposes an inversion of the value of knowledge held by local communities. It is precisely the capacity for building solutions to problems emerging from these complex “ecological environments” (in which mainstream formal support structures are absent or ineffective) that presents an enormous potential (Gupta et al., 2003). A central element of the grassroots perspective is the goal of preserving traditional knowledge and natural resources, held as patrimonies of local communities. It is only where social capital, intellectual capital, natural capital and ethical capital intersect that community-based innovations could appear and new social dynamics leading to the empowerment of these actors could emerge. Social harmonization, the respect towards traditional knowledge, the conscientious use of natural resources and the safekeeping of ethical values are all conditions that must be observed in order to reduce poverty and promote inclusion. In this holistic inspiration, grassroots innovations are close to the main elements that have once drove forward the movement for appropriate technologies in the past. Networks and artifacts As mentioned earlier, the Honey Bee Network (or simply HBN) is clearly the network associated with grassroots innovations in India. It uses the image of a bee pollinating flowers as a metaphor to show the need to draw elements from and to improve local

knowledge through the cooperation with other actors, which not only does not weaken but, on the contrary, strengthens the communities and their practices. The network, which is made of a large number of innovators, researchers, policy makers, NGOs and community members, is becoming an increasingly important voice in the defense of inclusive, community-based innovations. Its main objective is to identify and replicate experiences and knowledge through informal sectors while preserving intellectual property and avoiding its expropriation by large private firms. The network’s main activity is the scouting and documentation of innovations and traditional knowledge based on different actions such as visiting communities, interviews, meetings, awards and competitions, among others. Those innovations that are considered to be original are then made known to others by a series of publications, an electronic innovation network (KnowNet Grin) and an electronic database (GILD – Grassroots Green Innovations Local Language Database). A second step is related to the exploration of the commercial potential of products and processes identified during scouting. After the most promising innovations are sorted out, the HBN –along with other institutions like the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Newtork (GIAN) (see below)- helps in the process of patenting and offers further assistance in terms of prototyping and incubation. It also provides seed funding in order to assure commercial viability (Sone, 2012)iv. Since it was established in the mid-1990s, the HBN has rapidly expanded. It has managed to secure the support of several institutions such as the above mentioned GIAN and Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Institutions (SRISTI), as well as the Indian government. The network’s rapid growth may be understood as a result of the political strategy undertaken by the coalition that initially advocated for grassroots innovations. GIAN itself I the result of the efforts of the emerging coalition for grassroots innovations in India. It was created by the Gujarati government in 1997 through the joint efforts of HBN, SRISTI and other organizations with the goal of creating a channel to connect local innovations, funding mechanisms and firms to provide new goods and services (Gupta, 1997). In 2000, India’s Department of Science and Technology established the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) to aid in the fostering of grassroots innovations. Since then, the NIF has become another key actor in supporting these efforts by linking informal and formal knowledge and skills by providing technical assistance and credit for innovators, an institution that has worked closely with HBN, boosting the results of the network’s actions (Gupta et al., 2003). This has been noted as another decisive element for HBN’s recent success and expansion in India, to China and other developing countries (see Smith et alli, 2012). The alliance formed by HBN, SRISTI and NIF has made it possible to map about one million ideas, forms of traditional knowledge and innovations. The results in terms of patenting, however, have been significantly more modest: the NIF has filed 500 patent requests in India and 7 in the USA, of which only 35 and 4 were respectively approved (NIF, n/d). Some of the more common patent requests that were filed involve the prospection and use of medicinal herbs, artifacts and methods for plague control in agriculture, techniques for handling farm animals, technologies for water and soil preservation and low potency tractors, among others. One of the representative successful cases of innovations flourishing from the dynamics created by these organizations is the Groundnut Digger and Separator. Originally designed

by Yusuf Khan, a Rajasthani farmer, this technology employs a low potency tractor that makes the separation and extraction of nut waste from the soil – usually done manually – significantly cheaper. HBN identified this innovation in 2003 and put the innovator in touch with the Rajasthan Agriculture University, which tested the design of the technology and made incremental changes. In 2004 a patent request was filed and in 2005 the technology was awarded a prize from the NIF. The result was the licensing of this technology to the ARDEE Group of Companies, from Visakhapatnam, India (Singhal, n/d). Preliminary balance Despite the large amount of ideas and projects in process of development, very few of these innovations got patents and only 65 products havebeen licensed to commercial companies according to NIF. At the same time, micro-funding schemes associated to the HBN had difficulties to be implemented in the past (Utz y Dhalman, 2007). Also, much of the innovations that HBN promotes can be characterized by incremental improvements on existing traditional knowledge without necessarily including new scientific knowledge. Although more data is needed here, it is questionable if this process can lead towards a real change of attitude and practices among the scientific community to engage further in developing technologies for social inclusion and sustainable development. Thus, the comparative analysis between the main elements of the grassroots innovations approach, as proposed by Gupta and others, reveals some sort of tension. On the one hand, Gupta (1994) suggests the need to strengthen communities by providing education, health and other services through traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations. HBN and the other abovementioned organizations, on the other hand, tend to focus on one-dimensional responses to poverty and exclusion. Nevertheless, the HBN has built up a vibrant “ecology” for innovation, mobilizing different actors and institutions in the private and public sector. By empowering local populations about the value of their knowledge and its potential for innovation, the HBN has made a clear statement about the need to impulse different kinds of innovation approaches. 2. Bottom of the Pyramid The Bottom of the Pyramid (from now on, BoP) approach was created by the management expert C. K. Prahalad, who proposed to consider the poorest population -those living with less than 2.5 dollars per day, largely outside formal markets- as a new space for innovation and economic development (Prahalad, 2010). In Latin America, the IDB (IDB n/d) claims that BoP market represents 70% of the population, reaching almost 360 million people. According to Prahalad, this segment of the population has an unmatched potential for economic growth. Thus, it is assumed that innovation in products and services will help pro-poor development and increasing commercial profits at the same time, apparently assuring mutual benefits. Since 2000’s, the BoP approach has been adopted by various multinational companies and international development agencies like UNPD, IDB and World Bank. Main elements and strategy According to Prahalad, lack of products and services for the poor is based on long term prejudices about the abilities of the poor to value and to adopt innovations. On the contrary,

argues Prahalad, the poor have a great capacity to adapt to adverse situations and to use innovative resources such as the internet, cell phones and collective purchase schemes. This untapped capacity has a higher growth potential than the rate of growth of developed countries. For instance, the IDB regards that in Latin America this segment of the population has an estimated purchase power of 500 billon dollars per year (IDB n/d). In order to attend this market, the BoP approach proposes to firms to innovate in products, services and business strategies suitable to the poor. This implies new ways to design products, new distribution channels and new funding strategies: “the basic economies of BoP market are based on small unit packages, low margin per unit, high volume and high return on capital employed” Prahalad (2010: 48). In the original BoP´s conception, innovation is a central issue. Thus, BoP aims at: a. b. c. d. e. f. The development of low cost products, which can be easily scaled up at production The use of ICTs to generate new networks of distribution and procurement An strong use of new technologies for developing novel products Building up sustainable products Systems of production that require low skills and low capacitation Using and redefining existing infrastructure instead of creating a new one

Commercial companies willing to engage in BoP markets should learn to operate in informal economies and spaces that lack basic infrastructure. Hence, they are usually the NGOs which already have social networks and platforms in place that are key to operate in these informal markets. Therefore, BoP strategy is to create hybrid networks between firms, NGOs and public institutions by funding capacity-building or developing micro-funding schemes to gain access to these networks in order to sell their products. According to London and Davison (2011:3), early BoP initiatives showed that the creation of new distribution, organization and demand attention schemes is neither simple nor straightforward. Accordingly, during the last years, BoP advocates have changed their discourse and strategy from “fortune finding at the BoP” towards the creation of new markets, and from the mere provision of cheaper products towards the creation of new funding and evaluation mechanisms. This change aims to surpass the difficulties of profit gain in the informal economy. Networks and artefacts Unilever Shakti is a good example of how BoP tries to set up networks. The Unilever Shakti initiative constitutes an alliance between Unilever and Care, an NGO with long experience in capacity building and women’s empowerment in poor comunities. In this case, Care provided the platform for women’s training in the rural sector, while Unilever funded courses in health, infant care and entrepreneurship. Additionally, Unilever provided micro-funding for business development. As a result, Unilever acquired a platform for selling its products in new markets in India (London y Davidson, 2011; see also Jaiswal, 2008). For multinational firms like General Electric, the capacities accumulated for BoP innovation lead later on to low cost product development for central markets. They created a cheaper portable ultrasound scanner for Chinese rural markets that was afterwards

modified to be used and sold for emergencies and obstetrics purposes in the US. As GE’s CEO argued, this strategy was twofold, since it has allowed GE to gain new markets and, at the same time, be vigilant of the progress of local companies in developing countries (Immelt et alli, 2009). Since 2005, several international development institutions like UNDP, IDB and World Bank have adopted part of BoP’s approach. For example, the Inclusive Markets Program launched by UNDP in 2006 surveyed and analyzed 50 successful world cases of inclusive business (UNDP, 2008). In 2007, the IDB also launched the Opportunities for the Majority Programme, with 250 million US$ available for funding. Opportunities for the Majority has already funded 14 projects, most of them focused on seed funding schemes for small producers, new financial services and infrastructure for the developing of local markets, and to a lesser extent, innovation in new products. Both IDB and UNPD’s programs slightly differ from the original BoP’s approach. In particular, they emphasize the creation of new incomes and strengthening the capabilities of the poor At the same time, the issue of innovation in new products does not play here a central role as in BoP. Instead, organizational innovations are highlighted. Lastly, the Inclusive Business programmes seem to pay more attention to small local firms and NGOs than to multinational companies (see Lizuka y SadreGhazi, 2011) Preliminary balance After 10 years of trajectory, the BoP approach has still to demonstrate its capacity to provide a development alternative for social inclusion. A great deal of Prahalad’s general considerations (and some of his case studies) was based on assumptions that were widely questioned. For instance, Karnani (2009) and Jaiswal (2008) criticized the overestimation of the market potential for BoP consumption. Jaiswal (2008) also questioned the success of some of the cases studied by Prahalad. Furthermore, following Christenson, Kaplinsky suggests that changing trajectories of innovation and accumulation for multinational companies will not occur without difficulties, especially regarding the value of their brands in central markets (Kaplinsky, 2011). But, more importantly, BoP posits a socio-technical alliance where firms concentrate the innovation, whereas NGOs and social actors only participate laterally in the process of creation. This is reinforced by the kind of simple, de-skilled artifacts and services promoted. By these means, the logic of BoP captures and profits from the social networks of the poor without really challenging traditional ways of R&D.

3. Innovation and social inclusion’s scenario in South America In South America one may find a multiplicity of innovation and social development approaches and initiatives. In this context, even though BoP has been strongly supported by the IDB and UNDP and some of Gupta’s ideas have reached some diffusion, neither of these approaches has managed to go beyond the support of international organizations. With the aim of studying the potential of HBN and BoP approaches for South America, we now turn to describe visions and networks from Brazil and Argentina. Main elements and strategies

The issue of technology and development has received renewed attention among South American public institutions, R&D laboratories, cooperatives and NGOs. In the effort to find a space for debate and advocacy amidst the social movements and public protests against neo-liberalism in the region, various strands of thinking and ideas concerned about innovation and development began to take shape in Brazil, Argentina, and other countries. Nowadays, there is a lot of debate about what concepts and methodologies are best for the region. While some actors remain committed to earlier terms and visions, especially those historically engaged in practicing appropriate technology, others promote the discussion about new strategies including a dialogue between scientific and local knowledge. At the same time other streams encourage dynamics of innovations in order to strengthen cooperatives and solidarity economy initiatives. Undoubtedly, the main movement is the Social Technology Network (STN), which connects over 850 institutions from Brazil and other countries. The STN includes public R&D groups, universities, federal and regional institutions, small companies, social movements and –especially- NGOs. Its first activities included a survey of social technologies and the creation of a digital databank of experiences, and later on it started to promote the re-application of selected technologies to a larger scale. Social technology’s vision and principles include the need of social commitment. “It is built and reapplied from proactive, collective, solidarity and democratic means. Knowledge production occurs alongside the deepening of community awareness, scientific knowledge coupled with local and traditional knowledge” (Miranda et al, 2011: 151) The STN played an important role in creating a new innovation and social inclusion agenda in Brazil, promoting the creation of new public policies and social awareness on the subject. Funded among others by the Bank of Brazil Foundation and Petrobras, the STN has spent approximately 170 million dollars on projects from 2005 to 2010 in areas like agroecology, recycling, water sanitation and support for new social entrepreneurs (RTS, 2010). In Argentina, there are over one hundred institutions and programmes aimed to create technological solutions for social development. They are largely public institutions, ranging from small public R&D to large national programmes like Pro-Huerta programme at INTA (an agroecology initiative which serves more than 3 million people). Although there are some differences between the approaches that guide the different initiatives and institutions, most of the organizations and R&D units are keen to focus on the development of “the right artifact” to solve specific social problems, like new recycled materials for social housing or improved water sanitation systems. They tend to relay on inhouse innovation with subsequent technology transfer to the community. In recent years, however, one may observe that some of the initiatives have started to lean towards and be aware of the need to negotiate knowledge between lay people and experts in the coconstruction of technologies. A good example of these experiences is the Cisterna Programme funded by the STN in collaboration with the National Minister of Social Development. Cisterna is an important programme for the construction of water collectors for the Semi-Árido, a dry region in Northeast Brazil. Over 480 thousand water collectors were built and put to work by local

inhabitants with the help of the SNT. The Cisterna system was originally designed by a brick man from the region and later modified in collaboration with public R&D labs. Its main’s contribution is its self-built aspect that allows constructing bonds in the community, learning to use and modify the technology and empowering people through this process (Dias, 2012). In contrast with HBN and BoP, most of the initiatives in South America not only seek for public funding and public support for research and development, but also root their origin to public R&D labs. Therefore, they are not strictly bottom up innovation movements, but a mixture of different initiatives including several state-driven innovations. Commercial innovations are not considered an ultimately goal of these movements. Instead, there are strong sympathies and bridges with the social movement of Solidarity Economy in both movements. Thus, Technologies for Social Inclusion’s socio-technical alliances in Brazil and Argentina involve a much prominent state presence in R&D and funding. By articulating networks between universities, public agencies, NGOs and social moments, the STN and TIS are learning how to provide services, how to co-construct knowledge and technologies, and most hardly, how to influence local, national and regional agendas of innovation. Preliminary balance Innovation and inclusion development movements in South America do suffer some of the same limitations of HBN and BoP. These shortcomings are related to the approaches and knowledge strategies these movements follow (Fressoli, et alli, 2011). One of the deepest problem involving technologies for social inclusion movements is the tendency to build-up one-dimensional solutions for the problem of poverty. Namely, these solutions focus on single problems like lack of drinkable water or food sources and develop solutions to tackle that precise problem. For instance, it is common to develop water purification technologies for households in regions with water problems without considering issues like how to provide water for food production or energy supply for water extraction and cooking. Situations of poverty and exclusion of basic services usually imply complex scenarios which simultaneously include several needs like food, energy, sanitation, and health services. Without considering the inherent complexity of poverty situations, onedimensional solutions rapidly become patchy answers. Indentifying and solving one particular problem without considering others or the unintended consequences of the proposed solutions could be regarded as one-dimensional approaches which fail to attend the extended needs of the population. This does not mean that palliative solutions should be rejected when actors face situations of emergency, but in the long term one-dimensional solutions can unwillingly intensify unfairness in the access to products and services and crystallize inequality, for instance by creating a two sector economy. In this sense, if inclusive innovation programs focus exclusively in palliative solutions, the structural deficits affecting poverty will not be resolved in the future. Furthermore, the attention to palliative solutions can withdraw the attention to other, more transformational ideas and projects.

4. Learnings and constrains of HBN and BoP for South America

The visions of HBN and BoP offer interesting lessons about the role that local knowledge and capabilities may play in the production of new forms of innovation. In this sense, despite their differences, learnings and constrains of both approaches allow us to conceive new strategies for innovation and inclusion for South America. Moving beyond welfare approaches Both BoP and GI coincide in pointing out that some welfare assistance strategies are unsuitable for developing poor’s capabilities and the economic potential of local communities. In this scenario, rather than welfare solutions, they turn to the available stock of creative skills and traditional knowledge seeking their potential for commercial development. Stressing the value of this untapped pool of knowledge and skills can lead to the provision of new solutions to environmental, health-related and food problems at the local level or elsewhere. These practices may not only revalue available traditions and cultural artifacts (such as Gupta argues), but also help to re-orient the scientific agenda towards the attention of local problems, generating new learning’s and a dialogue between traditional and scientific knowledge. Heterogeneous network building Instead of pursuing top-down strategies of technological development that generally disregard local idiosyncrasies and social asymmetries, BoP and GI are keen to recognize and use local capabilities and existing informal networks with NGOs and other institutions. Building up networks with local actors may trigger new kinds of negotiations on what is problematic and what is not, which kind of solutions will work and which will not. In that sense, the creation of heterogeneous networks like those pursued by BoP and GI is an interesting strategy for reflecting about new kinds of public policies for knowledge development, innovation and novel ways for resource distribution among the poorest. Creative actors or passive users? Despite both approaches highlighted the role poorest may have in the innovation process, in practice it is difficult to reconcile this vision with the asymmetries that arise during the development of products and the distribution of benefits. In BoP, this problem is straightforward: this approach regards innovation as the reign of private companies, displacing NGOs and other social actors from R&D activities. In addition, the creation of power asymmetries could be also a problem for the GI movement. This is due to the fact that, despite HBN attempts to revalue and promote local knowledge through its networks, this approach ultimately relies on knowledge transfer to public R&D units for its development, scale-up and patenting. Although transforming local knowledge in commercial products by securing its intellectual property allows to protect the rights of the community, if this process is done without due care it risks alienating traditional knowledge from its original users, generating further inequalities among the poorest. This strategy posits problems of distribution and socialization of knowledge and its benefits. In this sense, the major risk of GI is to transform the owners of traditional knowledge in mere users, like BoP seems keen to achieve. Low tech or convergence of knowledge’s

Retrieving traditional knowledge is key in order to solve environmental and poverty problems. It might also be important in order to challenge established scientific and technological research issues. However, bottom up strategies of innovation do not tend to foster a real dialogue with scientific and technological knowledge. For example, the HBN approach implies acknowledging traditional knowledge as the primary component of grassroots innovation, whilst scientific knowledge seems to have only a secondary, more complementary, role. In addition, a great deal of BoP innovations may be regarded as a simplification of already available products and processes (see Lizuka y ShadreGhazi, 2011). This can present constrains to solve local problem, but also in order to create innovations.

Combating poverty or translating it into a business opportunity? Even though the explicit aim of both BoP and GI is to fight against poverty, there is some tension between the goals and interests of the actors associated with these movements. Both approaches only encourage the inclusion of the poor to formal, commercial markets like entrepreneurs (in HBN terms) or consumers (in Prahalad’s terms), and thus avoiding other forms of interchange and solidarity. In second place, but not least, while the discourse against poverty generates immediate sympathy, it may also open the gate for opportunistic behaviors or simplistic public interventions. Whereas some actors perceive the need to develop new strategies against poverty, others may find the potential to increase their benefits. In particular, some private companies saw in this schemes only a business opportunity. In that way, the logic of solidarity is disrupted by market mechanisms, undermining the social bonds created by innovation for social inclusion movements. Despite that BoP and GI rightly pointed out the difficulties of welfare assistance schemes, they do not seem to have put up systematic approaches to poverty in its multiple dimensions. Indeed, the socio-technical alliances that BoP and GI promote involving simple, low tech artifacts, exclusive intellectual property arrangements and strong entrepreneurship without necessarily providing broader public participation and democratization of technologies. This may empower people as users or commercial innovators, but hardly could level up the long term unevenness distribution of knowledge, resources and capabilities. In their actual shape, these approaches can be thought of at the most as a remedy for the “market’s failures” or a way to ameliorate market economies’ “unintended effects”, failing to question the asymmetry of technological development.

4. Conclusions: developing systematic approaches to inclusion and development for South America In this article we discuss the specificities of two inclusive innovation movements, Bottom of the Pyramid and Grassroots Innovations. Although their development is rooted to a specific context, in recent years international agencies have been encouraging their application into new territories and societies. We studied some of the principal characteristics of these movement and their organizing concepts and strategies, highlighting its networks and results. Later, we analyzed their potentialities and constraints. Our intention was to produce a better understanding of the challenges faced by movements for

innovation and development. Both learnings and limitations that these movements affront should be taken into account by actors involved in developing technologies for social inclusion in South America. In particular, we wanted to stress how the new thrust towards proprietary innovations, even when they are based on communal or traditional knowledge, may generate tensions among existing social networks in the region. We pointed out as well how one-dimensional approaches –common to inclusive innovation approaches- only tackle one side of the multidimensional problem of poverty. Our main concern there is that the so-called “propoor innovation” –either in the case of HBN, BoP or more deterministic approaches in South America- is utterly insufficient to achieve real and persistent effects of inclusion for the wider population. Indeed, instead of inquiring whether “pro-poor innovation” is inclusive or not, it is essential to question which kind of networks they favor, what learning dynamic they generate, what power relations are favored and who benefits from those innovations. In that sense, the mechanical adaptation of approaches developed for other situations could be unsuitable for the South American reality. Furthermore, without taking into account actual socio-technical alliances existing in the region they also might very well produce undesired and disruptive effects. Moving forward? Given the shortcomings of innovation and development movements addressed in this article, arises the need of new perspectives on technology and social development. But, is it possible to design new approaches by going beyond one-dimensional schemes? This paper posits that one alternative is to build up new socio-technological systems for social inclusion (Thomas, 2009). This implies modifying the logic of problem-solving relations in order to consider simultaneously different dimensions of poverty and exclusion. This approach is linked to the creation of new forms of local production, technological change and innovation dynamics. For instance, the Social Habitat’s R&D group at the Centre for Advance Studies, University of Córdoba proposes the co-construction of social technologies in a process that attempts to link technicians and scientist, local authorities, social cooperatives, NGOs and beneficiaries. This experience strives to procure solutions for social housing by promoting the use and production of local wood, thus fostering local employment and industry. They also promote the co-design of the houses while they train the local population and technicians in production system. They avoid intellectual property and try to work with cooperatives instead of private companies. The result is an attempt to provide selfsustaining technological and economical solutions that implies negotiation of knowledge between academics and the local population. This experience does still have some shortcomings: the scale of implementation is low, and its process requires a lot of negotiations and redesigning, therefore hampering any attempts to standardize the method. Developing a new strategy for innovation and social inclusion can not be thought solely as a matter of theoretical discussion (and therefore a full discussion is well beyond the scope of this paper). Thus, we can only offer a few suggestions for an alternative approach: a Socio-Technological System for inclusion would imply the creation of new socio-technical alliances between social movements, cooperatives, NGOs and public institutions. It will also challenge established policies and priorities in the field of science and technology.

Some issues to consider in the creation of new socio-technological systems for inclusion in South America are: • The re-orientation of disciplinary (and internationally) shaped S&T agendas of R&D towards the attention of local problems of poverty and sustainable development. • The design of new forms of scientific assessment and evaluation to take into account the social relevance of local problems and needs • Encouraging new schemes to foster innovation in public goods (and not only in innovations restricted to the logic of commercial market). • The coordination of public policies and research strategies in R&D centers in order to produce goods and services for sustainable processes of social inclusion. The present moment is particularly favourable for renewing the reflection on S&T policies for innovation and inclusive development. In the first place, this is due to the momentum these experiences are gaining around the world. Secondly, there is also an increasing academic interest in the subject. Finally, policy makers in developing countries (and also in developed ones) are being encouraged to adopt new S&T strategies to address new problems of sustainable development and socially fair ways for social inclusion. South American countries have in that sense an unmatched opportunity to explore new programmes and strategies in order to surpass proprietary, and high technology innovation tendencies, and therefore to put S&T to the service of the whole population. This endeavour will be accomplished provided we are able to develop our own situated strategy for social development.

6. References Abrol, D. 2005. “Embedding technology in community-based production systems through People's Technology Initiatives. Lessons from the Indian Experience”, International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development, (4): 3-20 Chesnais, F., 1994. La Mondialisation du Capital. Paris: Syros. DIAS, R. B., 2012. “Uma análise sociotécnica do Programa Um Milhão de Cisternas (P1MC)”, Paper presented at the IX ESOCITE - Latin American Congress of Social Studies of Science and Technology, Mexico City. Dickson, D., 1974. Alternative technology and the politics of technical change, London, Fontana/Collins Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), (2011). Social Panorama of Latin America, ECLAC, United Nations, Santiago de Chile. Available at: Fressoli, M., A. Smith, & H. Thomas, 2011. “From Appropriate to Social technologies: some enduring dilemmas in grassroots innovation movements for socially just futures”, paper presented at Globelics 2011, Buenos Aires.

Gupta, A., 1994. “Environmental policy analysis for maintaining diversity”, The Indian Journal of Social Science, 7 (1): 1-29. Gupta, A. K., 1996. “Roots of creativity and innovation in Indian society: a Honey Bee perspective”. Wastelands News, vol. XII, nº 1. Gupta, A. 1997. “The Honey Bee Network: Linking Knowledge-rich grassroots innovations”, Development, Vol.40 NO.4: 36-40 Gupta, A K., R. Sinha, D. Koradia, R. Patel, M. Parmar, P. Rohit, H. Patel, K. Patel, V. S. Chand, T. J. James, A. Chandan, M. Patel, T. N. Prakash, P. Vivekanandan (2003), Mobilizing grassroots’ technological innovations and tradicional knowledge, values and institutions: articulating social and ethical capital, Futures (35): 975-987. Herrera, A., 1983. “Transferencia de tecnología y tecnologías apropiadas: contribución a una visión prospectiva a largo plazo”. Campinas: UNICAMP. Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) (n/d), Opportunities for the majority. Bringing market-based solutions to Latin America and the Caribbean to promote social change, document available at: Immelt, J. R., V. Govindarajan y C. Trimble, 2009. “How GE is disrupting itself”, Harvard Business Review, pp. 3-11 Jaiswal, A. K., 2008. “The Fortune at the Bottom or the Middle of the Pyramid?”, Innovations: Technology, governance, globalization, 3, (1): 85-100. Karnani, A. 2009), “The Bottom of the Pyramid Strategy for Reducing Poverty: A Failed Promise”, DESA Working Paper No. 80, United Nations, available at: Kaplinksy, R. 2011. “Schumacher meets Schumpeter: Appropriate technology below the radar”, Research Policy, 40, (2): 193-203. Lizuka, M. y S. ShadreGhazi, 2011. “Understanding dynamics of pro-poor innovation: Mapping the disputed areas”, Paper presented at DIME – Dinamycs of Institutions and Markets in Europe, Maastricht London, T. y W. Davidson, 2011. “Creating a fortune with the Base of the Pyramid”, in T. London y S. Hart (eds.), Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid. New approaches for building mutual value, New Jersey, Pearson Education, 1-18 Miranda, I., Lopez, M. & Soares, M. C. C., 2011. “Social technology network: paths for sustainability”, Innovation and Development, (1): 151-152. National Innovation Fundation, (n/d), “Africa Calling”, document available at:

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2008. “Creating value for all: strategies for doing business with the poor”, document available at: Prahalad, C. K., 2010. The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid: Erradicating poverty through profits, New Jersey, Pearson Education Rede de Tecnologia Social (RTS), 2010. “Relatório dos 5 anos da RTS”, available in Singhal, R., n/d. “Groundnut Digger cum Separator. A case study”, Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network – North (GIAN - North), India, document available at: Smith, A., E. Around, M. Fressoli, H. Thomas & D. Abrol, 2012. “Supporting grassroots innovations. Facts and figures”, Sci-Dev Net – Science and Development Network”, Available at: Sone, L., 2012. “Innovative initiatives supporting inclusive innovation in India: Social business incubation and micro venture capital”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, (79): 638–647. Thomas, H., 2009. “Tecnologias para Inclusāo Social e Políticas Públicas na América Latina”, en Oterloo, Aldalice et al.: Tecnologias Sociais: Caminhos para a sustentabilidade, RTS, Brasilia, 25-81 United Nations, (UN) 2011. The Millennium Development Goals. Report 2011, New York. Available at: Utz, A. y C. Dhalman, 2007. “Promoting inclusive innovation (India)”, en Dutz, M. (ed.) Unleashing India’s innovation: Toward sustainable and inclusive growth, World Bank Varsavsky, O. (1969), Ciência, Política y cientificismo, Buenos Aires, Centro Editor de América Latina. Varsavsky, O. (1976), Por uma política científica nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Paz e Terra. Willoughby, K. W., 1990. Technology choice: critique of the appropriate technology movement, London, ITDG


This paper is an output of the research project Social Technologies and Public Policies in Latin America, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and conducted by a team of researchers from several Latin American countries.



IDB and UNPD initiatives will be discussed in section 3. The World Bank has incubation programs for propoor innovation in India (Sone, 2012) and recently has been strongly fostering the debate on these issues. iii It is possible to define a socio-technical alliance as a coalition of heterogeneous elements, implied in the process of building-up working or non-working of certain technology. Alliances are dynamically constituted by movements of coordination of artifacts, ideologies, normative, knowledge, institutions, social actors, economic resources, environmental conditions, etc. Different alliances imply different strategies for developing and implementing certain technological approaches. iv In this point, according to the HBN, productive chains could be strengthened and amplified, which would lead to increased aggregate value. In this sense, there is not an absolute contradiction between the proposed strategy and the principles of market economy. Rather, the dynamics it creates tend to be based on a different market structure which is “decentralized, competitive, open and participative” (Gupta, 1996).