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Closing the Innovation Divide: Breaking Down Barriers for Underdeveloped Economies

Do you ever wonder why some countries are held back from enjoying the benefits of innovation, despite its ability to drive GDP growth? The answer lies in the ‘innovation divide’ — a gap between those who can innovate and benefit from it and those who are left behind.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
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Closing The Innovation Divide

As someone who values innovation and all its benefits, I sometimes wonder why underdeveloped economies don't seem to benefit from this economy as much as they should. Innovation is a win-win model, unlike other parts of the economy that are win-lose, such as natural resources (copper, lithium, coal, oil, etc.).

There is no scarcity model to ideas; anyone can invent and create. And innovation is a crucial driving force behind GDP growth. Did you know that leading economists have estimated that 50% of the US GDP is driven by innovation?

So, why are certain countries and regions being held back?

What Is The Innovation Divide?

The innovation divide can be compared to the digital divide, which refers to the gap between those with access to technology and those without access. Similarly, the innovation divide refers to the gap between those who can innovate and benefit from it and those who are left behind. This gap favors developed countries and regions, where there is more research and development investment and greater availability of resources, such as capital and talent.

"Innovation is the key to unlocking economic prosperity for all - it has no boundaries and can be a powerful force in bridging the gap between underdeveloped and developed economies."

Narrowing The Innovation Divide

One potential solution is for underdeveloped economies to focus on building up their own innovation ecosystems. This would involve creating an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship and supports new ideas to grow. This could include investments in research and development and financial support for startups and small businesses. By creating this type of environment, underdeveloped economies could attract talent and ideas from other countries and regions, helping to close the innovation gap.

Another approach is for developed countries to take a more active role in helping underdeveloped economies build up their innovation ecosystems. This could take the form of partnerships between universities and research centers in developed and underdeveloped economies and mentorship programs for entrepreneurs. Developed countries could also provide financial support and resources to underdeveloped economies to build up their own innovation infrastructure.

Obstacles to Closing The Innovation Divide

One obstacle that often stands in the way of closing the innovation divide is a lack of access to funding and resources, such as talent and experience. Underdeveloped economies may struggle to secure the necessary capital to invest in research and development or support startups and entrepreneurs. This is where organizations such as the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation can play a crucial role by providing financial support and resources to underdeveloped economies.

Another obstacle is the cultural attitudes towards risk-taking and failure. In many developed countries, failure has become accepted as part of the process of innovating - it's seen as an opportunity for learning and growth rather than something shameful or embarrassing. This attitude has allowed entrepreneurs in these countries to take risks without fear of judgment or retribution, leading to more successful innovations overall. In contrast, many developing countries still view failure as something negative, which can discourage people from taking risks or trying new things out of fear of being judged for failing.

The Impact of Closing The Innovation Divide

When the innovation divide is narrowed, developing countries will see GDP growth and economic prosperity for their citizens. This will lead to improved living standards, increased access to education and healthcare, and a better quality of life. Not to mention reducing the risk some people have taken to migrate to countries with more opportunities in search of economic prosperity. This will improve global economic and social stability.


Closing the innovation divide is not an easy task, but it must be undertaken if we want to create the opportunity for global economic prosperity for all. All countries and regions must have access to the benefits that innovation can bring. By working together to close the innovation divide, we can create an environment that provides opportunities for all entrepreneurs and innovators. This will require a commitment from developed and underdeveloped economies, but the benefits will be worth it in the long run.

Innovation is not a finite resource; we can tap into its limitless potential by working together.

Economics of InnovationGDPprosperity

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Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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