OECD Development Policy Paper


This paper discusses innovation in low and middle-income countries, focusing on the role it has played in local and national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lessons from this effort for how innovation might be harnessed to address wider development and humanitarian challenges by mobilizing resources, improving processes, catalyzing collaboration and encouraging creative and contextually grounded approaches. The paper also examines how international development and humanitarian organizations can improve their support for local and national innovation efforts.

Based on a literature review, desk research and selected interviews, the authors set out to address the following three questions:

  • What do different forms of LIC and MIC innovation for COVID-19 look like? What are their distinguishing features, if any?
  • What benefits have resulted from LIC and MIC efforts in terms of both direct and indirect contributions to the pandemic response?
  • What are the implications for innovation for development efforts, especially for funders and bilateral development agencies?

This paper seeks to answer these questions by drawing on the collective efforts of a wide range of innovators from LICs and MICs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, while also acknowledging that the scope and range of innovations – and innovators – from these countries are broad, diverse and distinctive.

As such, it should be read as a complement to a previous OECD paper by Ramalingam and Prabhu (2020[7]) that explored the range of COVID-19 innovations currently being supported by the international community and argued for a shift in how development agencies manage and fund development innovation.

Click here to access the paper on the OECD website.

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