Innovation from Emerging Markets: The Case of Latin America
Today, ‘innovation’ is a priority all over the world, particularly in emerging markets. The President of India declared this decade the ‘Innovation Decade’. In emerging markets the word means much more than catching up by imitating innovative policies and firms from more developed economies. Some called it Reverse Innovation, meaning that it originates in places other than the ones traditionally linked to research and technology. Others use the word ‘frugal innovation’ with the idea that you need to innovate in a context of scarcity of resources and has to have an impact in the society. The goal is to reduce price and functionality and increase quality for a large audience.
If we look at Latin America, the region is well known for its music, Nobel laureate writers, excellent TV soapoperas (‘telenovelas’). In several revealing cases, Latin American businesses are redefining global business by developing new business models. There are many examples of promising policy reforms, such as Vive Digital in Colombia among governments in the region. Latin America can offer lessons about innovating with scarce resources in volatile and unpredictable environments — indeed, innovators in countries leading in research and development (R&D) increasingly face similarly challenging conditions.