X Close

UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

Home

Applied in Focus. Global in Reach

Menu

Covid-19 pandemic: raising the stakes for a ‘local health’ perspective

juliusmugwagwa19 March 2020

By Dr Julius Mugwagwa, Lecturer in Innovation and Development at UCL STEaPP

For the last few years, I have been part of a group that has challenged the assumptions of ‘global health’ narratives. Together with colleagues Geoffrey Banda at the University of Edinburgh and Maureen Mackintosh at the Open University, we have drawn from our health sector research in Africa to argue that some of the key underlying assumptions of global health are fundamentally flawed. This includes the assumption that medical health technologies are readily available commodities; that utilisation and access can be generated in a timely manner from global pharmaceutical value chains; and that “global” advances in knowledge benefit all.

State Public Health Laboratory in Exton Tests for COVID-19

Courtesy of Governor Tom Wolf on Flickr

(more…)

In the era of SDGs and Grand Challenges should all innovation be ‘social innovation’?

jochataway20 January 2020

By Joanna Chataway, Rebecca Hanlin and Julius Mugwagwa

Geoff Mulgan, newly appointed Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at UCL STEaPP, has an impressive new book out entitled ‘Social Innovation: How societies find the power to change’.  His ideas about social innovation made us wonder: In this era of changing goalposts for technological innovation, should we think about all innovation as to some degree being social innovation?

Innovation image

All innovation aimed at delivering social and environmental targets requires us to think about social factors, organisational change and other contextual realities. It could therefore be thought of as social innovation.  On the face of it, that would seem fine as a premise but with further reflection we concluded that things weren’t so simple.  It is certainly true that in the overwhelming majority of cases, technology alone won’t achieve social and environmental goals.  But, the difference between ‘innovation’ and ‘social innovation’ seems to us to relate to starting points and how technological innovation is conceptualised in relation to broader societal change.  Technological innovation, even when it is related to social and environmental goals, could be thought of as beginning with a scientific and technical focus, whereas social innovation does not.  The nature of this difference is worth exploring in more detail because the policy implications are important.

(more…)

More funding for research, yes, but what kind of research?

Siobhan Pipa21 November 2019

By Professor Joanna Chataway, UCL STEaPP, Dr Tommaso Ciarli and Dr Hugo Confraria, SPRU

Increased spending on research and innovation is a key component of efforts to help address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their complex interactions. But pumping more money into scientific research does not necessarily mean that research will succeed in addressing the SDGs, even when it is designed to do just that.  This observation is at the heart of the new international and multi-partner STRINGS project which is looking at how science, technology and innovation (STI) can be better aligned to addressing the SDGs in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).

(more…)