Graduates of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Foundations for Innovation

We are strengthening developing-country skills and institutions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Goal

Build the human and organizational capital needed for innovation to support economic growth and development in low- and middle-income countries through programs that strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills and improve institutions.

Introduction

Stronger investments in science and innovation in developing countries offer promising prospects for increasing competiveness, growth, and prosperity. China and India have seen large GDP gains by linking public science with private business and providing incentives for technological innovation. Across Latin America, governments are creating supportive financing and regulatory environments to incubate innovative start-ups. And since 2013, sub-Saharan Africa has moved up the global innovation index due to investments in technology, stronger institutional frameworks, and deeper integration with markets. The world’s largest radio telescope is being built in South Africa, marking a significant new investment in innovation on the continent.

Despite such encouraging developments, many developing countries still lack the individual and organizational capabilities to benefit from advances in science. Barriers to education limit the development of human capital, leading to significant skills gaps. Business and government investment in research and development is low, and when governments do fund research, weak enabling policies and poor coordination with private sector actors limit its application. Without strong STEM education and policy frameworks to drive innovation, low- and middle-income countries will miss opportunities to use technologies to foster accelerated growth.

Priorities

The program will focus on:

  • helping individuals apply STEM skills to address development and industrial problems
  • strengthening the ability of science and technology organizations to contribute to innovation and growth
Funding

The Foundations for Innovation program funds research primarily through competitive calls. Announcements and details on eligibility and thematic focus for funding opportunities will be posted on IDRC’s funding page.

Partnerships

Funders:
The UK Department for International Development
Funders:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Funders:
Canada Research Chairs
Funders:
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Funders:
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Israel Science Foundation, The Azrieli Foundation
Funders:
National Research Foundation, The UK Department for International Development