Thursday, 7 July 2016

Dolly was an icon – but of what?

By Ann Bruce

Image Credit: David Cheskin
When Dolly’s existence, and more particularly, her heritage became public knowledge, the world’s media and soon its politicians too, became mesmerised and shocked by the prospect of cloning humans. You cannot change the laws of physics, but it just looked like the laws of biology had been broken.

I first met Dolly when taking some journalists around to see her at Roslin Institute. If normally only a shepherd can tell one sheep from another, then Dolly was an exception to the rule, as she quickly made herself known and came over to claim the attention she was used to. She wasn’t just a sheep like any other. Dolly truly did re-write the laws of biology, although as is so often the case in science, there were a lot of giants on whose shoulders the scientists working on Dolly were standing.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Innogen and IKD@OU at the 13th Globelics International Conference, 23rd – 25th September 2015: Havana, Cuba

By David Wield

300 researchers from more than 40 countries attended the 13th Globelics International Conference to share findings on innovation, economic development and social inclusion in developing countries. There was a large Innogen contingent and the theme, Innovation to Reduce Poverty and Inequalities for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, was ideally suited to our world-class research into the interconnections between industrial innovation and health.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

OU DPP Guest Blog: Pharmaceutical Standards - A Challenging Balancing Act

By Dr Dinar Kale

Drawing on a pilot study carried out in India, Kenya and South Africa with funding from IKD, a new policy brief from Innogen, Standards and Their Role in Pharmaceutical Upgrading in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, reveals that pharmaceutical standards have emerged as an undesirable barrier to market entry for firms based in African countries, which in turn impacts on development, health delivery and access to medicines. The financial cost and technical knowledge associated with complying with technology standards remains a significant challenge for developing country firms looking to upgrade their manufacturing facilities. This has created a major policy challenge for policy makers and regulators around the world, who want to facilitate the development of standards that will ensure safe, effective and quality products without their acting as barriers to development of local industries in African countries.

Read the whole post on the DPP blog

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Innogen and IKD@OU at the 12th Globelics International Conference: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

By Geoffrey Banda

From the 29th to the 31th of October 2014, the African Union Centre in Addis Ababa was the venue for the 12th Globelics International Conference. The conference ran under the theme, Partnerships for innovation-based development.

At the Globelics International Conference, Innogen and the Innovation, Knowledge and Development Research Centre at the Open University (IKD@OU) hosted a special session on Innovating for Local Health: Addressing Local Needs in a Globalised Context.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The poor and their health needs: hard-to-reach, still?

By Julius Mugwagwa

In early September, I attended a three-day Zimbabwe all stakeholder conference on health in Victoria Falls, as part of the ‘innovative spending in health’ project. This event revealed, among other challenges, that just over 10% of Zimbabwe’s 15 million population has medical aid cover. This means that the majority of the country’s urban and rural poor, and those in farming and other remote communities, cannot access private or specialist healthcare unless they can pay for the service out-of-pocket.

One of the reasons why such a big proportion of the population is not covered is that the country’s economy is now dominated by an informal employment sector, one that poses challenges to businesses in the medical insurance trade on how to collect monthly premiums from would-be clients. Current medical insurance business models are suited for the formal employment sector, where people are employed in registered companies and have predictable incomes that are dispensed through banks. It is important to note, however, that the country’s 33 medical aid providers have not been found wanting with respect to the innovative packages that they provide – from individual and family packages, packages that allow access to different categories of health facilities, to medical insurance schemes that also encompass funeral cover.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Foresighting Trajectories for Advanced Innovative Technologies

There is a renewed determination in the UK to ensure that we capitalise on the excellence of our scientific research and capture the economic and societal benefits from the basic research that we fund. Many important initiatives from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), in collaboration with the Research Councils UK, are designed to support the translation from basic science to practical outcomes, encouraging public and private bodies to work together to facilitate innovation processes.

These investments are leading to an innovation environment that may be better today than it has been in
living memory. In order to capture this potential, however, we need a radically new approach to innovation support from the social sciences, to help businesses navigate the many uncertainties along the way from basic science to practical impact. This should build on a better understanding of the multiplicity of factors – technological, regulatory and societal – that determine not just which innovations reach a marketplace, but also the innovative capacity and competitive advantage of industry sectors, regions and countries.

Pitfalls and Benefits of an STS-Africa Network

By Prof Norman Clark


Earlier this year, Prof Norman Clark participated in the STS-Africa meeting, ‘Mapping Science and Technology in Africa: Traveling technologies and global disorders” in Johannesburg, South Africa. A main component of the event was around establishing an STS community for sub-Saharan Africa, and Prof Clark reflects on the pitfalls and benefits of such an endeavour.


At the STS-Africa conference, I gave a paper on research into use, and it became clear to me that many participants were not really understanding each other, and this was largely due to the wide range of disciplines present. One of the biggest barriers to creating an African STS community is the difficulty of establishing a viable language of discourse, and this is not really an “Africa” issue; it arises as a problem that confronts all interdisciplinary dialogue. What my be necessary is to pin down discourse to a set of STS issues that are indeed “African” (not just “South African”), which would encourage communication across disciplines and attract relevant funding.