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Theorising Inclusive Innovation for Development


The aim of this project is to theorise a notion of justice in innovation, defending principles of equity, recognition and participation as bottom up principles generated through public action and campaigning. These principles can guide the direction of contemporary innovation systems towards equalising social relations in the production of knowledge and innovation, and meeting the basic needs of the poor, especially in developing countries.


Theo Papaioannou, Open University (Principal Investigator)  


This project is funded through The Open University. 


This theoretical research, in line with an increasing number of innovation and development scholars, starts with the premise that innovation as such has great potential to address a number of grand challenges (e.g. alleviating disease burden and malnutrition, eliminating poverty, delivering good health, security and sustainability) but ought to be inclusive of the needs and interests of the poor.

Inclusive innovation has emerged as a ‘hot topic’ over the last decade or so given the increasing recognition that despite tremendous technological progress not all individuals and their societies have tasted the fruits of new technologies or shared the benefits of economic growth. There are still people in the global south (e.g. poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia) and the global north (e.g. unemployed people in Europe and the United States) who either lack access to new technological products and processes of fundamental importance for their well-being or their basic needs and interests have never been taken seriously on board in the social process of generation of innovative technologies. Innovation and technological progress have been exclusive of the poor, increasing inequalities, spreading starvation, violence and despair around the world.


Papaioannou, T. (2020) ‘Innovation, Value-Neutrality and the Question of Politics: Unmasking the Theoretical and Ideological Abuse of Evolutionary Theory’ Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol.7, No.2, pp.238-255.

Papaioannou, T. (2018) Inclusive Innovation for Development: Meeting the Demands of Justice through Public Action, London: Routledge. ISBN: 9781138304864.


Theo Papaioannou

Contact us

To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502