Introducing the International Development Innovation Network’s Research Program (And Three Ways You Can Help)

Photo by Giselle Aris, originally shared by Feed the Future.
Photo by Giselle Aris, originally shared by Feed the Future.

Over the past few months, the International Development Innovation Network(IDIN) has been designing a research program to increase understanding of the ways in which local innovation and co-creation contribute to sustainable development. This program will help us better understand the dynamics of local innovation and how the benefits of local innovation—in terms of both process and products—can achieve impact at wider scales. It will also provide valuable insights into how IDIN and other development stakeholders can most effectively support local innovators and innovation processes.

Over the next three years, we will build this knowledge base in two primary ways: first, learning from existing studies and identifying areas where evidence is weak or missing, and second, by supporting new research in areas where there are important unanswered questions related to local innovation, co-creation, and development.

We are currently completing a review of existing research on local innovation and development, which will inform new studies we support starting this fall. Already, we have identified several areas where additional research would be beneficial:

Understanding the development benefits of local innovation: In places with strong examples of local innovation, what kinds of development-related changes take place and how do these contribute to improving people’s lives?

Understanding local innovation processes: What are the key elements of local innovation processes, particularly those producing clear development benefits?  What are the essential components of local innovation eco-systems and how might we describe and map these systems?

Understanding the role of networks in local innovation: What is the role that global networks play in successful local innovation processes, and how can networks contribute most effectively to sparking, sustaining, and spreading the solutions and impact that emerge from these processes?

These are just some of the questions we are starting to explore and there are several ways in which you can participate and contribute to these efforts:

  1. Suggest potential research sites: Are you familiar with a place where local innovation and ingenuity is creating significant positive change and addressing local challenges? If you know of a hotspot of local innovation where it might be valuable for IDIN to conduct or support research, please let us know. 
  2. Contribute to our knowledge base: If you come across quality studies, data, or information related to local innovation and development that you think we should include in our review, feel free to send our way!
  3. Share your own work in these areas: If you are doing research or have written on these subjects, we would love to know about your work.

The International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) is a five-year program funded by the US Agency for International Development that builds a global network of changemakers dedicated to designing, developing, and disseminating technologies to alleviate poverty.

To provide input or learn more about our research program, please contact our Research Coordinator, Elizabeth Hoffecker Moreno at