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April 01, 2014
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Posted by NCID

Pedro Mendi, Resident Fellow of the Navarra Center for International Development, was invited as a panelist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Multi-Year Expert Meeting.

The event was titled “Investment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for productive capacity-building and sustainable development” and took place at the Palais de Nations in Geneva.  Pedro Mendi presented his paper on "The World Bank's Kenya Innovation Survey", a research conducted jointly with Robert Mudida from the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Because of the composition of the audience, there was a clear interest on the policy implications of the different studies. I emphasized the importance of removing barriers to firm growth, as well as improving market competition as catalysts of technological innovations”, explained Pedro Mendi.

The research found that between 35-60% of firms are doing some type of innovation. “This reflects that firms take the initiative to try new things to gain a competitive edge, in this case new products and processes. The question is what the “quality” of these innovations is, that is, how close or far away they are from the technological frontier”, he explained. The presentation showed the results of a survey conducted jointly with the World Bank, and this questionnaire does not address the issue of “quality”. That is why Pedro Mendi thinks that “we really need to work on a new generation of surveys that would allow us to get a better sense of where the innovations are positioned relative to the technological frontier”.

Regarding the issue of the relationship between firms and universities as a way to improve research and innovation implementation inside the companies Pedro Mendi concluded: “Sometimes, academia and business live in totally different worlds and speak totally different languages. Therefore, in my opinion the first step would be to establish as many contacts as possible, by bringing together businesspeople and researchers so that they interact, even at a personal level.”

The next step in their research will be to analyze the determinants of introducing innovations new to the market and innovations with a foreign origin. “Additionally, I would like to work a comparative study with Nigeria, since I recently met a researcher with access to Nigerian CIS data, and there is an interest in comparative studies,” Pedro Mendi concluded.