The Economist‘s Schumpeter blog sees innovation becoming more and more about doing things cheaply, rather than doing new things or doing existing things better. The approach is to create new, cheaper products in the developing world and then bring them to the West. The forces behind this are a little disconcerting:
The West is doomed to a long period of austerity, as the middle class is squeezed and governments curb spending. Some 50m Americans lack medical insurance; 60m lack regular bank accounts. Such people are crying out for new ways to save money. A growing number of Western universities are taking the frugal message to heart (at least when it comes to thinking about things other than their own tuition fees). Santa Clara University has a Frugal Innovation Lab. Stanford University has an (unfrugally named) Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability programme. Cambridge University has an Inclusive Design programme. Even the Obama administration has an Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to encourage grassroots entrepreneurs in health care and energy.
It makes some sense to use a 3rd-World-based innovation strategy for our new Gilded Age. The full post is here.