The contributions of RIAT

Action-based innovation, click on image for larger version.

RIAT is premised on a multifaceted view of innovation and applies ‘systems thinking’ for broad based rural innovation, i.e. a mixture of technological, social and institutional factors. It is an action-oriented toolbox with three primary tools:

  • Mapping tools
  • Self-reflection and Horizon Exploration
  • Operationalising High Impact Local Innovation Catalysts

The mapping tool helps us explore the rural innovation landscape by facilitating, investigating, mapping and understanding the ‘health of the rural innovation system’. It identifies and takes a rounded/comprehensive view of all the factors and actors influencing new knowledge generation, diffusion, adaption and use for rural development.

The self-reflection and horizon exploration (SHE) enables joint-exploration and understanding of the district-level innovation landscape through a series of workshops involving the research team and local stakeholders. Key innovation opportunities (existing and potential) are collaborativley identified.

The high-impact local innovation catalysts (HILICs) are identified from the key innovation opportunities and are thoroughly interrogated to determine which should be supported, how this can be done and where the necessary intervention should take place along the innovation value-chain.

If used appropriately, the tools from the toolbox could also possibly lend themselves as the means of Monitoring and Evaluating (M&E) future innovation activities (invention, diffusion, adaption and adoption) in the RDMs (findings from the pilot test in district municipalities show how this can be done).