Director’s update

Director’s update

January 2010


Ian Maudlin writes

I believe RIU has really turned a corner recently. We now have:

  • the new organizational and management structure in place
  • developed and shared the programme’s overall research design centred on a set of innovation narratives
  • the African Country Programmes  working towards the recommendations made by the Technical Review Team
  • the Asia Programme have been rationalized and re-grouped into three complementary clusters
  • the new RIU Best Bets underway
  • and much more effective internal and external communications

The result of all this hard work is that RIU is now much more focused. We have a much clearer idea of what we are trying to achieve (and it is much more achievable). And, crucially, we are able to communicate this more effectively to our key partners and audiences. I think we now have an RIU that is fit for purpose and of which we can be proud.

As many of you will know, I have long been of the opinion that an essential component in getting research into use is the active involvement of the private sector. I am therefore especially pleased that our new private-sector led initiative, RIU Best Bets, has now taken off. I have said it before, and doubtless will say it again, that I strongly agree with one of my heroes, Adam Smith – the father of modern economics, who wrote well over 200 years ago: I have never known much good done by those affected to trade for the public good’.

The Best Bets initiative taps into the knowledge that entrepreneurs have about making innovations work. The process has been designed to bring together researchers and the private sector to form effective partnerships to turn promising research products into viable goods and services which meet the real needs of the poor. Increasingly businesses have come to realize that the poor represent a vast, largely untapped market – the concept of the fortune at the base of the pyramid.

The first round of RIU Best Bets, which focused on East, Central and Southern Africa with the climax of the process occurring in Nairobi on the 27 November, was a great success. We have received highly complimentary feedback , even from those whose proposals were not funded! Finally, four of the eight short-listed proposals were recommended for funding by our excellent independent panel, made up of leaders from the East African business, finance and research and development communities. There is good coverage of the Best Bets process and selected proposals elsewhere on the RIU website, including some great short films. We are now actively working on the second round, which will be focused on West Africa and is scheduled to take place in Accra, Ghana in late March 2010.

Another recent achievement which I am delighted by is the much needed improvement in internal and external communication. The website has been improved recently, and this is just the first step – we will have a completely new website early in the New Year which will be much better suited to supporting, facilitating and promoting our work. Our websites very own television channel, RIUtv, was launched at the RIU Best Bets event in Nairobi – some of the participants were surprised to see themselves on the RIU website just hours after the event. We have also succeeded recently in sharing some research into use success stories throughout the world via radio, television and the web.

The Central Research Team has also made great progress with the development of RIU’s research design. This is a based on a set of innovation narratives, each of which has a hypothesis and set of key research questions. We are now close to finalizing the recruitment our team of Research Fellows who will be critical to capturing the lesson from RIU’s work.

As the year comes to an end, new challenges await the RIU team in 2010. These include the external review which DFID will be conducting in March. Prior to that the RIU management team, the Central Research Team, members of the communication team and the coordinators of the African Country Programmes will be meeting in Nairobi on 27 and 28 January. Then, amongst other important business, we will jointly explore how the research design and learning component of the programme will be operationalized.

On behalf of the RIU team I would like to wish you all a very happy holiday period and a highly productive and prosperous New Year.

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

Director’s update

December 2009

I believe RIU has really turned a corner recently. We now have:

· the new organizational and management structure in place

· developed and shared the programme’s overall research design [link to about RIU] centred on a set of innovation narratives

· the African Country Programmes  working towards the recommendations made by the Technical Review Team

· the Asia Programme have been rationalized and re-grouped into three complementary clusters

· the new RIU Best Bets [link to Best Bets]underway

· and much more effective internal and external communications

The result of all this hard work is that RIU is now much more focused. We have a much clearer idea of what we are trying to achieve (and it is much more achievable). And, crucially, we are able to communicate this more effectively to our key partners and audiences. I think we now have an RIU that is fit for purpose and of which we can be proud.

As many of you will know, I have long been of the opinion that an essential component in getting research into use is the active involvement of the private sector. I am therefore especially pleased that our new private-sector led initiative, RIU Best Bets [link to BB], has now taken off. I have said it before, and doubtless will say it again, that I strongly agree with one of my heroes, Adam Smith – the father of modern economics, who wrote well over 200 years ago: I have never known much good done by those affected to trade for the public good’.

The Best Bets initiative taps into the knowledge that entrepreneurs have about making innovations work. The process has been designed to bring together researchers and the private sector to form effective partnerships to turn promising research products into viable goods and services which meet the real needs of the poor. Increasingly businesses have come to realize that the poor represent a vast, largely untapped market – the concept of the fortune at the base of the pyramid.

The first round of RIU Best Bets, which focused on East, Central and Southern Africa with the climax of the process occurring in Nairobi on the 27 November, was a great success. We have received highly complimentary feedback [link to BB Process section} , even from those whose proposals were not funded! Finally, four of the eight short-listed proposals were recommended for funding by our excellent independent panel[link to BB panel], made up of leaders from the East African business, finance and research and development communities. There is good coverage of the Best Bets process [bb process] and selected proposals elsewhere on the RIU website, including some great short films. We are now actively working on the second round, which will be focused on West Africa and is scheduled to take place in Accra, Ghana in late March 2010 [link to BB advert for round 2].

Another recent achievement which I am delighted by is the much needed improvement in internal and external communication. The website has been improved recently, and this is just the first step – we will have a completely new website early in the New Year which will be much better suited to supporting, facilitating and promoting our work. Our websites very own television channel, RIUtv [link to RIUtv], was launched at the RIU Best Bets event in Nairobi – some of the participants were surprised to see themselves on the RIU website just hours after the event. We have also succeeded recently in sharing some research into use success stories throughout the world via radio, television and the web.

The Central Research Team has also made great progress with the development of RIU’s research design. This is a based on a set of innovation narratives [link to what is RIU], each of which has a hypothesis and set of key research questions. We are now close to finalizing the recruitment our team of Research Fellows who will be critical to capturing the lesson from RIU’s work.

As the year comes to an end, new challenges await the RIU team in 2010. These include the external review which DFID [ ext link to Dfid] will be conducting in March. Prior to that the RIU management team, the Central Research Team, members of the communication team and the coordinators of the African Country Programmes will be meeting in Nairobi on 27 and 28 January. Then, amongst other important business, we will jointly explore how the research design and learning component of the programme will be operationalized.

On behalf of the RIU team I would like to wish you all a very happy holiday period and a highly productive and prosperous New Year.

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