Universities in Innovation for Inclusive Development: Africa

A new research network will explore how African universities can help innovation thrive on the continent.

This research will explore the extent to which universities encourage innovations that enhance the economic inclusion of populations engaged in informal sector jobs. By identifying new ways to involve a wider range of social actors, universities can help to connect knowledge, capital, and other assets that have traditionally supported innovation in areas such as the informal economy. Too often, universities have focused on research and development, the commercialization of products, and industry interactions, especially in the high tech sector. This approach often ignores the concept of inclusive development.

Funding will support a research network of universities and research councils from six African countries - Botswana, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda - as well as three Pan-African associations of higher education. Networking and field-building activities, empirical research, and research capacity building, will stimulate discussions and actions that will change the way universities view their role in society.

The research is expected to lead to the development of a framework to reorient sub-Saharan university teaching and research, the setting of research agendas, and policy-making. Better understanding of the need to develop new capabilities and new ways to implement changes are also anticipated.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, February 24, 2012

End Date

Monday, August 24, 2015


36 months

IDRC Officer

Osir, Ellie Onyango

Total funding

CA$ 1,057,600


Botswana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, South of Sahara


Networked Economies

Project Leader

Dr. Glenda Kruss


Human Sciences Research Council

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website