If innovation activity remains largely invisible in the economy, how would you go about benchmarking it? How can policy take note of innovation (mainly invisible, but even visible) and how can it support it? Why are we even benchmarking in the first place, and when we do so, who should lead such an exercise?
These were just some of the key questions emerging from discussions on benchmarking rural innovation capacity during a workshop organised by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and the Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP) together with the LINK initiative (Learning, Innovation, Knowledge) in New Delhi on August 19-20, 2009.
In earlier literature, innovation was considered the realm of advanced economies and technology-intensive sectors, where technological innovations were seen as the result of heavy investments on R&D. However, recent theoretical advances have expanded the views on how and where can innovation take place, describing it as a complex process of interactive learning among multiple actors. Despite the broad range of insights from the burgeoning literature on innovation systems during the last decade, most benchmarking thinking and practice still remains highly science-based and centred in promoting public R&D, especially in developing countries. We believe that a transition from simplistic to more dynamic forms of benchmarking is now largely overdue.
In the days to come we hope to take forward the ideas emerging from the discussions during the August workshop and what followed. Apart from commissioning a definitive document on “Rethinking Benchmarking of Rural and Agricultural Innovation”, we plan to explore other themes around the topic, identify the challenges ahead, and propose a new way to benchmark rural innovation capacity.