The Innogen Institute is a dynamic collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the Open University that explores the social and economic implications of innovation in the life sciences. Innogen scholars are pioneering approaches that connect people, policy and practice to innovative solutions for real world problems, in areas such as global health, food and energy security, emerging technologies, the environment and the bioeconomy. Read our Review

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Innogen and IKD@OU at the 14th 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.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Post-Competitive collaboration: a new concept for the era of big data and real world data?

By Joanna Chataway & Joyce Tait

We are now familiar with the idea of pre-competitive collaboration amongst firms. The idea is that there are areas of basic science, research and technology where firms, in many cases together with public sector researchers, benefit from investing jointly and sharing the outputs of work. The research is early stage and it would be wasteful for public and private sectors to carry out discrete research programmes, duplicating effort and not sharing results. There is much debate about how pre-competitive research should best be carried out in different areas of science and technology, but the concept is firmly rooted in current R&D practice and policy.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

OU DPP Guest Blog: Local pharma in Africa - going nowhere, slowly?

By Dr Julius Mugwagwa, recently in South Africa and Zimbabwe

A recent visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe for field work on the ESRC-funded ‘innovative spending in health’ project and NEPAD conference on medicines regulation and access confirmed to me that indeed the multi-pronged search for effective solutions to Africa’s health care challenges has resulted in unending academic, policy and practice debates on the role that local production and supply of pharmaceutical products can play in availing safe, efficacious, affordable and high-quality products. As players in the health care system face sustained pressure from rising health care costs, changing regulations and an influx of patients demanding the same or even better quality care, one consistent argument is that local production will contribute positively to health system targets, and is thus a good place to spend the ‘health dollars’.

Read the whole story on the DPP Blog.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

ESRC Future of the UK & Scotland: Science, research and Scottish independence?

By Dr Omid Omidvar

This article was originally produced for the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland blog on 4 December 2013.

In November, two papers were published regarding the future of Scotland. The first, ‘Scotland analysis: Science and research’, written by the UK government, and unveiled by David Willetts, UK Science Minister earlier in November, focuses solely on the issues related to science and research in Scotland, whereas the second one, a Scottish Government White Paper, addresses a whole range of issues associated with independence in Scotland with a brief discussion of the futures of science and higher education in Scotland (Chapter 5- Education, Skills and Employment).

Both papers testify to the strength of the Scottish science base and the contribution of Scottish universities to the UK research base as a whole. They agree on the significance and success of the presently developed research infrastructure, funding system, collaboration platforms and research support organisations across the UK. The importance of the mutually reinforcing research capabilities developed across the boundaries of the UK in a single integrated system goes unquestioned in both papers.

Read the full post