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SD Research Focus on Innovative Commuities

Defining Innovative Communities

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series E-179. May 2015

An innovative community is one that has sustained a wellspring of creativity, with the capacity to stimulate, nurture, develop and productively harness the inherent innovative qualities of its people.

What is an innovative community?

Throughout this set of project pages on innovative communities. a number of characterizations and definitions of the term has been used. These are listed below:
  • Innovative Communities ... stimulate, nurture, develop and productively harness the inherent innovative qualities of its people to create sustainable lifestyles.

  • Innovative communities are able to bring in new methods, ideas, etc. to improve their environment, and initiate changes through human intelligence and knowledge, especially of imaginative thought or artistic ability.

  • Understanding the historical context, cultural traditions and norms, and sometimes religious aspects, also play a critical role in defining a community - prerequisites indeed to the sustainable development and innovativeness of a community

  • Innovative communities have the capacity to to understand and analyze problems; partner with different resources/organizations to find solutions; use local resources for local solutions; involve the whole community with comprehensive participation; negotiate and build consensus from within; incorporates and adopts external resources within local contexts; and respects historical and cultural issues.

  • An Innovative community is not one founded to produce and distribute products invented by a single individual. Nor is it a community with several innovative individuals within it. It must have the means to stimulate, nurture and develop innovation in its people. Finally, unless it can productively harness its people's innovativeness in such a way as to compete successfully in the marketplace, it cannot, as a community be considered innovative.

  • Innovation is a fundamental element of any successful community as it inspires collaboration, fosters creativity, and drives talent and economic growth within and for the community. It offers forward momentum in all areas of life - Innovation fosters inspiration, leading to beneficial results all across a community.

  • Bringing 'innovativeness' and 'community' together creates a comprehensive picture for local environmental management that (1) understands the natural and man-made resources held by the community within its local environs and looks as itself as a part of local ecosystems; (2) has high knowledge - intellectual capacity and awareness of the local environment within the community. it encourages and respects diversity within the homogeneity of the community; (3) develops a strong identity and clear forward-looking visions. it is able to reflect and articulate the desires, needs and wishes of the community; and (4) initiates and sustains political dialogue at the city, state, national and international levels.

  • In understanding innovativeness, we look at novelty - Does the innovative idea represent a leap of creativity? Effectiveness - Is there evidence of tangible results? Significance: Does the innovation address a problem of public concern? Transferability: Can the innovation, or elements of it, be adopted by others?

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