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DEVELOPMENT

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INNOVATION FOR

INNOVATION FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Navigating the paths and pitfalls Foreword At its core, innovation is about doing business differently – even when that business is innovation. Innovation for International Development is an excellent inventory of new approaches and perspectives from across the sector that will help to change how innovation is thought about, designed, and delivered for achieving impact goals. Innovation alone will not solve all of the problems facing humanity, but we certainly won’t solve many without it. I read these exciting essays with great interest because innovation has always been at the heart of how The Rockefeller Foundation solves complex problems and brings about great transformations. At the time of our founding in 1913, our predecessors called it scientific philanthropy, but it was really defining innovation: testing different solutions, taking risks with unproven ideas, and scaling what works. Our more than 100 years of experience in applying innovation to global development has taught us that we must foster innovation to adapt to new learning and changing context. In the early 20 th century this meant mostly backing brains – identifying who the innovators were and then mobilizing the right resources to enable their creativity and allow their ideas to flourish. Later it meant also focusing on innovations to create movements that would lead to transformational change, like the Green 6

INNOVATION FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Navigating the paths and pitfalls Revolution which fed more than one billion people around the world. Today, innovation is now also about looking everywhere for new ideas and new voices. Technology has enabled us to do this more effectively, allowing us to better ‘search and scan’ for the challenges and promising solutions on the horizon, as well as sense for new ideas through open source competitions and crowdsourcing. Because our world is operating at such a fast pace of change, we no longer have the freedom to let innovation take a long, winding course. Rather, we have to make hard judgments and smart bets with imperfect information. We need to creatively leverage strategic partnerships to drive breakthrough change systemically and sustainably. None of this easy. It takes patience, flexibility, and investment. In our line of work, we cannot accept innovation for innovation’s sake. Rather we must pursue innovation with intention and in service to ever-greater impact. The ideas in these essays – and the people and organisations who contributed them – will help lead the way. Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation, 18 April 2016 7

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