Dr. Rebecca Hanlin, Director of Health Innovation at the ESRC Innogen Centre
During many of the discussions held at Forum 2009 towards the end of last year in Havana, Cuba, a particular set of users (patients and civil society members) were frequently missing. One concept discussed at the meeting and in a commentary piece published at the time in The Lancet was that of a Global Health Research and Innovation System. This concept acknowledges the need to consider more systemically the wide range of actors, stimulus and challenges impacting the ability to innovate (new) health related products and services to address the health of the poorest in the world. However, the current conceptualisation of this system put forward ignores the valuable role users play in the innovation process.
This is despite an increasing recognition of the role of users within academic thinking around innovation more generally. There is a growing recognition that innovation is disruptive and often takes place as a result of those who, or to address groups who, are ‘below the radar’ thus recognizing the role of low income populations at the bottom of the pyramid. Much of this has been user driven innovation whereby innovation takes place in response to the needs of users while other innovation actually involves the user in the innovation process. Considering these forms of innovation provide one means to overcome the mismatches affecting innovation of health related products and services for those who need them most.
 Matlin, S.A. and Samuels, G.M.R. (2009) “The Global Health Research and Innovation System (GHRIS)” The Lancet Vol. 374, pp.1662-3
 DPP (2009) BELOW THE RADAR: WHAT DOES INNOVATION IN THE ASIAN DRIVER ECONOMIES HAVE TO OFFER OTHER LOW INCOME ECONOMIES? Innogen Working Paper 69 January 2009
 Prahalad, C.K. (2004) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits Wharton School Publishing Hanlin, R. and Sutz, J. (2009) Where are the flags of our fathers? Rethinking linkages between social policies and innovation policies Innogen Working Paper (forthcoming)