Global issues are growing in complexity. With this, we need as much brainpower as we can possibly leverage. Where should we begin our search? We can begin by looking at developing countries.

Why developing countries?

Overlooked

As Bright Simons pointed out in his TED talk, when people speak of developing countries, they think of poverty-ridden nations where ideas from developed countries are being passed down.

When talking about developing countries, the notion that their citizens may also be great innovators is often not taken into consideration.

Simons then proceeds to present counterexamples that will disprove this idea. He argues that great innovations can also come from developing countries.

Some of the ingenious solutions to global problems created by citizens of  developing countries he mentioned include:

  • One-time PIN verification to authenticate heart medicine. This solves the counterfeiting problem in Egypt. By just texting the code, one can verify if the medicine that they purchased is real.
  • Digitization of seed inspection in Kenyan farms. Fake seeds are quite a problem in the country. Through digitization, the process of transporting seeds is guaranteed to be quick and safe.
  • Vaccine quality detection by using organo-sensors. Vaccines retain their potency for as long as they are preserved ideal environmental conditions. Once they are exposed to a less ideal setting, their efficacy will begin to deplete. These sensors will be an assurance that children will receive the immunization they deserve.

If the case is that developing countries are in no way devoid of innovative minds, what is the problem?

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The truth is, we simply do not care to notice. The world hasn’t paid much attention to these countries. In so doing, we slept on ideas that could’ve been the solutions to issues we encounter in our modern world.

Because we fail to pay attention, the innovations coming from developing countries also fail to attain impact at scale. Imagine just how many innovations we have yet to take advantage of just because we have overlooked the solutions developing countries have to offer.

Transitioning to a collaborative stance

The World Economic Forum proposes that the best way to tackle global problems is to allow new kinds of partnership, cross border collaboration, and open innovation both in public and private sectors.

By allowing collaboration and openness, it will become easier for us to arrive at solutions. At the same time, collective growth will be attained due to the rapid exchange of ideas and skills across borders.

“When global leaders in the public and private sectors act more openly, they not only seize huge economic opportunities but can also help society at large,” according to Royal DSM Latin America President Mauricio Adade.

None of us should be deceived by the idea that solutions only come from specific geographical locations, races, or cultures. As Bright Simons worded it, what the world needs right now is intellectual justice.  We should end the monopoly of innovation and allow the solutions from developing countries to also scale.

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