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Commercialising innovations from the informal economy: The grassroots innovation ecosystem in India

Gautam Sharma (Centre for Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India)
Hemant Kumar (Centre for Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India)

South Asian Journal of Business Studies

ISSN: 2398-628X

Article publication date: 13 February 2019

Issue publication date: 12 April 2019

1521

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the commercialisation mechanisms of the innovations that emerge from the informal sector of Indian economy. Also known as grassroots innovations, they are said to better fit with the local market demands and conditions in the developing nations of the world. The paper discusses the grassroots innovation ecosystem in India and the role that is played by the state in providing institutional support.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an exploratory study using both the primary and secondary sources of data. Primary data are taken from the interview of the innovators during the field work, whereas secondary data are acquired from research articles published in various journals indexed in Scopus and web of sciences, government publications and reports. The annual reports of National Innovation Foundation are analysed to gather information and to build the arguments for this paper. The secondary data are also collected and evaluated from the database of the grassroots innovators available on Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network.

Findings

The paper provides insight into how the grassroots innovations are commercialised in India through different pathways such as social entrepreneurship, technology transfer and open source technology. It takes four case studies to discuss the institutional support to the grassroots innovator and the challenges in the diffusion of the grassroots innovations.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the chosen research approach, the results cannot be generalised on all grassroots innovations. Researchers are encouraged to conduct a survey of more grassroots innovations in order to derive generalised outputs.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for understanding the diffusion process of grassroots innovations that can be useful for all the emerging and developing nations.

Originality/value

The paper fulfils an identified need to study the diffusion modes of informal sector innovations and management of grassroots innovations.

Keywords

Citation

Sharma, G. and Kumar, H. (2019), "Commercialising innovations from the informal economy: The grassroots innovation ecosystem in India", South Asian Journal of Business Studies, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 40-61. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAJBS-12-2017-0142

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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