Dear Cleantech colleague 

Sustainable technologies for developing markets often require a different type of innovation.

On the one hand, there are companies that are able to take the next step: leap frog technologies are designed around typical characteristics of developing markets. They are able to make vegetables grow in the desert or develop sensors for measuring water quality that are capable of dealing with different pollutant loads per cubic meter of river water than those found in the West.

On the other hand, a downscaled version of sophisticated solutions from the West often requires an innovation in itself, if only to make them suitable and affordable for markets where the demand is for low-cost, high-volume products that are nonetheless robust. This requires a great effort in itself. We could compare it to the lengths the ESA goes to in order to bring space technologies back down to earth, as it were, and find ways in which to utilise them on earth. In this sense, it would be better to speak of a different type of innovation and, to my mind, the concept of right-scaling seems more appropriate.

This brings us to the theme for this edition. How can we, together with our membership, help to provide technologies that promote sustainable development and that are affordable for developing markets?

At i-SUP2016, held in Antwerp in October, VITO and partners from the United Nations community in Brussels launched what are known as “GSTI events -  Global Science Technology and Innovation conferences. In our Inspiring Case, we asked VITO’s Dirk Fransaer and Veerle Vandeweerd, former Director of the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Programme, to tell us more.

In the “Focus on businesses” section, we have put the spotlight on a number of “leap froggers” and “right-scalers”, who are revealing how they have succeeded at serving developing markets. But let us tell you this now before you also begin to look for tips and tricks specifically with regard to technical aspects: the technology is by-the-by. The keys to success are finding the right partner and the best format for collaboration in these distant markets. In other words, it is all about the human element! And this is precisely where the GSTIC events come in, bringing people together and enabling them to meet in order to tackle key challenges together.

This is the final newsletter of 2016, so we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a great end to the year!

Carine Van Hove
Managing Director FCA

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