JICA Research Institute

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Open Innovation and Development

As today's information society continues to develop, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as well as new production, service, and corporate activities developed by employing ICT as platforms are being applied in manufacturing and a wide range of other industries. The use of ICT is also rapidly expanding in developing countries as well, mainly in urban areas. National borders are disappearing when it comes to innovation.

Against this backdrop, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was finally adopted at the United Nations (UN) Summit held in September 2015. Under this agenda, the promotion of science and technology innovation (STI) was listed as a specific development target in the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on the concept that expanding ICT use, developing global networks of people and organizations, and promoting STI in a wide range of areas (such as pharmaceutical products and energy) will accelerate the advancement of humankind and the development of a knowledge-based society: SDG 8 (economic growth and employment); SDG 9 (infrastructure, industrialization, and innovation); and SDG 17 (implementation methods/partnership).

Today, developing countries are faced with a need to adopt a new approach to economic and social development. In short, open innovation focused mainly on software and services is expected to open up new possibilities that would be unattainable under conventional industrial development policies. In particular, Fab Labs (i.e., digital workshops developed for the general public) are a form of open innovation that has attracted attention as a new approach capable of generating "leapfrog" effects in the economic and social development of developing countries.

Based on the above hypothesis, JICA-RI established a study group in September 2015 to explore the issue of Open Innovation and Development while also focusing on the future of development economics. With the participation of prominent Japanese experts in the field of development economics and innovation, the study group held four sessions up to February 2016 to study problems from a variety of perspectives with the aim of obtaining suggestions concerning the following issues: (1) what impact is open innovation likely to have in the context of development?; (2) based on the answer to question (1), what approaches can JICA undertake to achieve the STI-related SDGs stipulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?; and (3) how can JICA use the context of open innovation to achieve the "quality growth" mentioned in the Development Cooperation Charter? This report summarizes the results of these sessions.

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