South Africa slum
University-driven inclusive innovations
Western Cape of South Africa

Prof. dr. Robert Tijssen publishes on University-driven inclusive innovations

A paper on "University-driven inclusive innovations in the Western Cape of South Africa" by CFIA senior researcher Prof. dr. Robert Tijssen (CWTS, Leiden University) was recently published in the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development. Tijssen co-authored the paper with Sara Grobbelaar and Marjolein Dijksterhuis of Stellenbosch University, South Africa. This work was partially supported by the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa.

The research deals with the role of universities in the (co-)development of inclusive innovations in the Western Cape area. These inclusive innovations may eventually lead to job creation and/or the improvement of living conditions.


Inclusive innovation refers to the improvement of living conditions and creation of employment opportunities for the poor through the development or co-creation of new products, services, processes and business models aimed at resource poor communities. Based on an empirical study of 15 university-led inclusive innovation projects in the Western Cape Province in South Africa, using an inductive approach we apply an analytical framework that serves two purposes (1) to describe our empirical findings and (2) to develop a broader research agenda that identifies a number of key research questions on the role of inclusive innovation projects in developing countries, and ways of addressing those questions in future studies. The empirical findings reveal a wide variety of university departments and individual staff members engaging with low-income user groups or entrepreneurs to (co-)create, launch or operate inclusive innovations. Our analysis shows that unravelling the various structural components and functions can provide interesting new insights into the workings of inclusive innovation systems. The findings of our study illustrate the complexity of the subject matter and the urgent need for a ‘system of innovation components’ approach to enhance our understanding of inclusive innovation projects and to develop appropriate methodologies for measuring their impacts.

The full article can be read here: University-driven inclusive innovations in the Western Cape of South Africa: Towards a research framework of innovation regimes