Global Innovation Foundation:
Building upon What Poor People are Rich in
i.e. knowledge, creativity and innovation
The role of creativity and innovations at the grassroots is recognized as a fundamental building block of alleviating poverty and enhancing the potential for rural and urban development. However, the very fact that there is no venture promotion and finance fund which looks at small innovations requiring investments ranging from USD 15000 to 50,0000, anywhere in the developing world proves that policy support structures have not yet responded to the potential of grassroots innovations. The dominant developmental strategy has missed the role of outstanding traditional knowledge and contemporary innovations in generating new options. Even the framework for global restructuring does not require developing countries to create mechanisms for learning from the unaided, self-inspired innovations within each society.
It is these kind of innovations that Honey Bee Network has been scouting, disseminating, adding value and rewarding which have led to a database of more than 20000 innovations. Justifiably, though belated, Government of India has responded by establishing National Innovation Foundation (NIF) to scale up the experience of Honey Bee Network and develop a National Register of Innovations, help innovators protect their intellectual property rights, help set up incubators to convert innovations into enterprises and disseminate the innovations to create an innovative environment and spirit in the society.
There is a need for a Global Innovation Foundation (GIF) which will spawn such national foundations in different parts of the world and at the same time provide venture promotion funds to the selected innovators. It will help generate what I call as a golden triangle for rewarding creativity by linking innovation, investment and enterprise. Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) was one such innovation promotion fund created in Gujarat in 1997. The model has provided tremendous insights
about filing patents on behalf of innovators, getting innovations matured through linkage with the institutions of excellence in design, R&D and marketing and rewarding innovators. Building bridges between informal and formal science is most crucial to make ‘big science’ more compassionate and grassroots innovations more valorized.
We have to identify (a) various mechanisms to recognize, respect and reward the grassroots innovations, (b) identify international collaborators in various parts of value chain, (c) generate commitments for resources and (d) develop an information technology plan and a template to operationalise GIF with minimum transaction cost for all involved.