In 2019 the Open AIR network moved into a new phase of research. The theme of the Annual Report is “Scaling Innovation Inclusively”.

Following an internal self-evaluation and an independent external evaluation at the midway point of our formal institutions’ partnership, our core funders affirmed their commitments and/or reinvested in our research network. We refocused our research questions based on the results of our initial activities. And we rescoped emerging priorities for our next three years of work.

We continue to conduct research in themes shaped around three future scenarios for knowledge and innovation on the African continent: high tech hubs, informal innovation, and Indigenous entrepreneurship. Underpinning and cutting across these three themes are two additional clusters of research: innovation metrics, and laws and policies. Prior to our midterm review, we generally combined research on measurement of innovation and the policy frameworks based on those indicators. Moving forward, more clearly differentiating innovation metrics from the laws and policies they produce (or follow) will help to sharpen our methods and improve our outcomes.

Several new issues have clearly emerged as priorities for the African continent. While Open AIR has always been interested in inclusive innovation, our ongoing activities are increasingly focused on specific aspects of inclusion. Over the next few years, we will increasingly emphasize Sustainable Development Goal No. 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Africa’s youth, and especially their prospects for employment through innovation in knowledge-based businesses, is another area of more specific focus for our network. We will ramp up our work on economic integration on the African continent, emphasizing connections between international trade and local innovation.

Meanwhile, Open AIR continues to make impacts putting research into practice. We remain heavily engaged with national and international policymakers in the fields of innovation and intellectual property. And we are deepening our connections with grassroots communities of innovators around Africa. The effectiveness of our knowledge mobilization strategies is evident in our growing social media influence, increasing number of research publications, and enhanced reputation for policy expertise. Our mobility program enabling dozens of new and emerging researchers to move from hub to hub, gaining experience and exchanging knowledge in the process, is now well-established. Via our individual researchers and institutional hubs, we are recognizing Africa’s role in the global knowledge economy.

Read the 2019 report online. Click in the window below to view fullscreen, or download a PDF.

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