JICA Research Institute

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JICA-RI & CSIS Joint Report "Transformative Innovation for International Development" Is Released

June 6, 2016

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and JICA Research Institute are engaged in joint researching on the theme of innovation that contributes to development. The report "Transformative Innovation for International Development: Operationalizing Innovation Ecosystems and Smart Cities for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction," which summarizes the results of the first year's research, has been released.

"Transformative innovation," or system-level innovation that shifts the existing system toward a totally new and sustainable way of operating, holds certain promise for developing countries seeking high-yield economic growth. One can look to the rise of the Internet in the 1990s as an example of this kind of transformation.

This report looks at the how of operationalizing transformative innovation by focusing on two concrete opportunities for developing contexts: innovation ecosystems and smart cities.

This report analyzes Fabrication Laboratories or "Fab Labs," which are outfitted with 3-D printers, laser cutters and the like, as potential catalysts for constructing and connecting new innovation ecosystems in the developing world.It discusses the example of Fab Lab Bohol in the Philippines, whose establishment involved Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, as an example related to innovation ecosystems.

In relation to smart cities, the report analyzes the example of the Jakarta metropolitan area in Indonesia. In relation to the role of donors and multilateral organizations that support such initiatives, the report addresses the JICA-funded mass rapid transit system in Jakarta and a joint crediting mechanism (JCM) in Indonesia, which is a carbon trade scheme between Indonesia and Japan.

The report concludes that transformative innovation approaches can enable a new path to economic growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction, if scaled to their potential and made sustainable. The report also points out that innovation ecosystems and smart cities approaches are disrupting the traditional way of doing international development, so development practitioners should embrace this disruption and understand the potential for tools such as Fab Labs to catalyze transformative innovation.

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