Reflections on demonstrating development-oriented innovations in South Africa
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Innovation demonstrations are an important means of first-time testing and fine-tuning innovations outside of the laboratory. Through demonstrations, scientists shift the focus from research and innovation quality and novelty, towards issues of acceptability, usability and value-addition for different social groups. It is erroneous to assume that usefulness will follow simply because the technical aspects of the innovation meet scientific standards. South Africa is intent on improving its science, technology and innovation (STI) capabilities, and promoting the use of STI to achieve social development outcomes. Science councils and universities are developing technologies aimed at improving and expanding access to basic municipal services and recent practical work involves demonstrating these among the local poor in rural areas as a means to promote inclusive development. These innovations include water, sanitation and energy technologies. They are often combined with information and communication technologies (ICTs) or require access to ICTs to ensure that they function.