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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Reverse Innovation

version: 3 / updated: 2011-11-08
id: #1862 / version id: #971
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Vanessa Watkins
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 8 - Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Blue Sky Research on emerging issues and other research economies

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)
Source: INFU (225229) - http://www.innovation-futures.org/ http://endlessinnovation.typepad.com/endless_innovation/2009/10/innovation-at-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid.html

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Reverse Innovation

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
Traditionally, innovations found their way from developed to emerging markets in the form of less-sophisticated products at lower prices. The numbers of examples that work the other way around are increasing. It is more and more the case that innovation "trickles up" from emerging to developed nations. GE Chairman Jeffrey calls this tendency “reverse innovation”. Which means to say that since developing and emerging countries have become big and sophisticated markets a growing number of Western companies make use of cheap R&D and low-cost manufacturing in these regions and start innovating locally for the domestic market. Afterwards they introduce the innovations to their Western home markets.


reverse innovation, emerging countries, low-cost innovation, research and development, global competition


(max. 250 characters)
Developing and emerging countries are becoming big and sophisticated markets leading to a growing number of Western companies using cheap R&D and low-cost manufacturing in these regions and innovating locally in these domestic markets.

Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Change in current innovation patterns new/emerging

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Western scientists and consumer will have to accept that they might loose their leading position in innovation. This shift to the East could lead to less financial capabilities in Western economies for innovation. As enterprises become more global networked, the share of scientists from developing countries will also increase and influence innovation processes.


please specify
please select
Level 4: important for the whole world

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social So far people in developing countries are still underserved by Western companies and therefore often have to look for themselves for innovative solutions that are affordable and fit their specific needs. Slowly companies in developing regions are now becoming aware of these market opportunities and try to adapt their innovation strategies (Bottom-of-the-Pyramid-Solutions)
Economic Asia is expected to be the global powerhouse of economic growth in the future. Especially Asian companies have caught up in many areas and are about to overtake Western player in a lot of market segments and will develop a large amount of new ideas.
Political Especially Chinese and Indian Governments spent large sums on R&D and promote the foundation of innovation cluster. Furthermore officials support companies to acquire Western knowledge.

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Western scientists and consumer will have to accept that they might loose their leading position in innovation. This shift to the East could lead to less financial capabilities in Western economies for innovation.

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Economic prosperity/dynamics
Globalization vs. localization

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Research infrastructures
International S&T Cooperation

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Developing and funding world-class research infrastructures
Strengthening research institutions and universities
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)