Innovation and Development Welcoming submissions for an upcoming special issue

Towards building a healthy health innovation system in developing countries

Innovation and Development

Special Issue Guest Editors: José Miguel Natera; Cecilia Tomassini; Alexandre O. Veracruz.


Advances in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) have undoubtedly contributed to improving healthcare conditions throughout the world. However, these improvements have been unequally distributed. This has to do with the lack of infrastructures and health services, but also with the enormous failures in the prioritization of research agendas and in the translation and application of health knowledge. Thereby, promoting health STI does not always mean better health, but may even involve greater health inequalities. This is especially important for developing countries, where the definition of agendas depends mainly on what is decided in regions with greater purchasing power (COHRED, 1990). Additionally, the gap between what we know from research and what is done to apply this knowledge – the ‘know-do gap’ (Santesso and Tugwell, 2006) – continues to have a negative impact the developing world. This debate has covered two especially problematic moments in the health area: (i) the translation of basic research results into applications, and (ii) the application of knowledge, so that they are accessible and useful for public policy, health services or the society in general.

The obstacles faced in these issues have been reinforced by the belief that investment in basic research will automatically lead to the development of new tools and their adoption by health systems in developing countries. This linear vision has hidden the difficulties to translate health research into policies and practices, and has underestimated the complexity of the relationship between basic science and technological innovation in health area (Morel, 2003). From a systemic approach of innovation, it is proposed that the translation and application of health knowledge should be an interactive and collaborative process among diverse actors; it should include basic and clinical researchers, health professionals, stakeholders and agents from the industrial and service sector. It is also emphasized that translation and application should not be a prescriptive automatic process, requiring its adaptation to the diverse local realities of STI systems and health systems.

Thus, knowledge production, translation and application are of upmost importance for ensuring our welfare as humans: there exists a strong relation between the health sphere and inequalities, living conditions, poverty and social exclusion. Despite the importance of this issue, there is still a lack of empirical evidence from developing countries: neither the evaluation of existing mechanisms for knowledge translation and application nor its effective impact on improving human health or health services have been fully investigated. Therefore, this topic calls for further studies in the innovation literature, in order to show how health knowledge translation and use is taking place in developing countries.

This proposal of a special issue in Innovation and Development intends to bring together state-of-the-art analysis and debates of a conceptual, methodological, policy and empirical nature that broaden and deepen the conceptualization of health knowledge production, translation and application in developing countries.


This special issue aims at analysing knowledge generation and application for healthcare solutions in developing countries.

We invite contributions analysing this broad topic in terms of the following aspects:

  • How does research and technologies for improving healthcare conditions take place in developing countries?
  • What incentives are present for actors to generate STI solutions for healthcare problems in developing countries?
  • What are the main barriers to link knowledge production and application in the area of health in developing countries?
  • What are the links among the actors of the health system and the actors within the innovation system? How could we study these types of interactions and their effects on the production and application of STI in health?
  • How does the institutional setting affect the generation of new knowledge for healthcare activities and its applications?
  • What is the contribution of the STI in healthcare activities in the achievement of inclusive development goals?
  • How can we use STI solutions to alleviate health problems? What kind of mechanisms allow to link and complement the use of STI to improve health?

Submission Information

Abstract submission

Submit an abstract of no more than 400–800 words by 29 January 2018. It should clearly state (i) the purpose of your study, (ii) the particular topic of your study, (iii) the empirical and theoretical context in which you examine this particular topic and (iv) the relevance of your study for practitioners, academic scholars and I&D readership. You can decide to send a first draft of your paper along with your abstract; however, this is not mandatory.

All abstracts must indicate:

  • Title of the proposed manuscript
  • Research problem with an explicit connection to the Special Issue Theme
  • Conceptual Approach and Methodology
  • Author details – including institutional affiliation, email and physical mail addresses

We particularly encourage scholars studying the knowledge production and application in the Asian context to be part of this effort.

The guest editors of this Special Issue will inform the authors of selected paper proposals by 5 February 2018.

Full papers submission

You are invited to submit your paper. Full manuscripts should be submitted no later than 1 April 2018 following the standard guidelines of Innovation and Development, which can be found on the journal’s website. The papers will be selected competitively according to their intrinsic quality and fit to the special issue, all resulting papers going through a double-blind refereeing process.

Submissions should be sent electronically in word format to the guest editors to these addresses:,, The email should carry two attached files:

  1. The first will contain the full paper (no longer than 8000 words) with:
    • Title;
    • Abstract (approximately 80 words);
    • Keywords (JEL);
    • The identity of the author(s) should NOT be included here.
  2. The second will contain only one page including:
    • Title;
    • Abstract;
    • Authors’ identification: names, position, department, name of institution, full postal and e-mail addresses;
    • Biographical notes: approximately 100 words per author.

Important dates


  • Abstract submission: 29 January 2018
  • Abstract selection: 29 January 2018–5 February 2018
  • Notification of selected abstracts: 5 February 2018

Full papers

  • Paper first drafts: 1 April 2018
  • 1° External peer-review: 1 April 2018–1 June 2018
  • Paper second draft: 1 June 2018–1 August 2018
  • 2° External Peer-review: 1 August 2018–1 October 2018
  • Papers’ final version: 1 November 2018
  • Delivery to Journal: 1 November 2018


Commission on Health Research for Development (COHRED). 1990. Health Research: Essential Link to Equity in Development. 1st ed., USA: Oxford University Press. 160 p.

Morel, Carlos. 2003. “Neglected Diseases: Under-funded Research and Inadequate Health Interventions: Can We Change This Reality?” EMBO Reports 4: special issue.

Santesso, Nancy, and Tugwell, Peter. 2006. “Knowledge Translation in Developing Countries.” Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 26: 87–96.