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Biography & Abstract
Gautam Sharma

Gautam is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Innovation Research (CIRCLE) and Division of Innovation, Department of Design Sciences, LTH, Lund University, Sweden. He is funded by the Marie Skłodowska Curie postdoctoral fellowship and works on informal innovations in India.

Evaluating the institutional initiatives for mainstreaming grassroots innovations in India

Grassroots innovations, particularly in low-income regions, are defined as localized, community-driven solutions created by individuals or groups to address specific challenges within their immediate surroundings. These innovations differ from conventional ones in their focus on social needs over market demands, and their development occurs outside formal R&D structures. In India, various state-anchored institutional mechanisms aim to support these innovations, helping them gain recognition, acquire intellectual property rights, and obtain business development assistance. This paper critically assesses the application of top-down policies, originally intended for formal innovations, to grassroots, informal innovations for mainstream integration. The critique focuses on the inadequacy of this method in addressing the unique needs and values inherent in grassroots innovations. The paper argues that the current initiatives are rooted in market-driven entrepreneurial logic, which prioritizes innovation in terms of market or economic value capture, thus neglecting the social value and motivations driving these grassroots innovations. It advocates for a policy approach towards grassroots innovations that prioritizes impact over scalability concerns, emphasizing a contextdriven strategy.

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