Research Areas

Local Innovation Processes

Projects conducted under this theme investigate how innovation happens in community-based contexts, focusing particular attention on inclusive, multi-stakeholder innovation processes in under-studied contexts.

Innovation Ecosystems

Projects under this theme seek to identify and assess the capacities that are needed at the individual, group, and local system levels to produce and sustain local innovation processes over time.

Local Innovation Capacity

Projects under this theme seek to identify and assess the capacities that are needed at the individual, group, and local system levels to produce and sustain local innovation processes over time.

Development Outcomes of Local Innovation

This research examines how local innovation contributes to development and the benefits that result from local innovation processes and from investments in strengthening local innovation capacity.


Complexity-aware Evaluation

This research is developing and advancing methods of evaluating complex interventions into complex local systems that draws on theory, methods, and techniques from complexity science and system dynamics.

Lean Research

Lean Research is a research approach and an ongoing initiative to improve the practice of applied research and data collection involving people and communities in development and humanitarian contexts. 


Image showing a large group of people from diverse backgrounds sitting in a circle on blue and white mats laid out on the rooftop of a building in Lahore, Pakistan.

Inclusive Systems Innovation

This project investigates successful examples of inclusive local systems innovation within local systems facing development challenges through the analysis of existing evidence and new case study more

An image with a wooden prototype in the foreground and a group of people engaged in conversation in the background. The group includes a team of MIT students, workers from a local NGO, and members of the town of Leguruki, Tanzania.

Learning from Local Innovators

This project involves interview-based case studies with local innovators and their collaborators in order to gain insights into how grassroots innovation processes unfold in diverse settings around the world... read more

An image with a blue social network map against a white background. The map depicts the relationships of collaboration between key actors in an entrepreneurial ecosystem studied by the Local Innovation Group in collaboration with GED.

Participatory Innovation Ecosystem Mapping

This project is developing an approach to analyzing the dynamics of collaboration within innovation-oriented entrepreneurial more

An image showing a printout of a colorful framework (the Local Innovation Ecosystem Framework) developed by the MIT Local Innovation Group. The framework, which depicts the key actors, resources, and enabling environment elements of a local innovation ecosystem, is sitting on a table with a laptop next to it, and has been covered with post-it notes. Some pens and worksheets are lying next to it. This image is from a workshop conducted in 2019 with a group of actors in the innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem of Madrid, Spain.

Innovation Ecosystem Analysis and Strengthening

Identifying opportunities and effective strategies for strengthening local innovation ecosystems…read more

Image of a close-up of people’s hands who working together to assemble the wooden parts of an avocado dryer prototype in Leguruki, Tanzania.

Assessing Local Innovation Capacity

Developing a framework and tools for assessing local capacity to innovate at the individual, group, and system levels…read more

This image depicts a college-age woman dressed in clothes with patterns characteristic of one of Guatemala’s numerous indigenous communities, who is seated at a desk in a maker space at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. She has a laptop in front of her, and to the side of the laptop, she is conducting some electronic tests on a small robot that she has made, which is standing on the table next to her.

ASPIRE : Achieving Sustainable Partnerships in Innovation, Research, and Entrepreneurship  

Strengthening higher education capacity for development-oriented research and innovation in more

This image depicts a group of people who are sitting together on a brightly colored cloth on the ground on the outskirts of a rural village in Bihar, India. The group of people includes members of the village and a group of MIT students. To one side of the group, there are green fields with some type of crop growing and palm trees- to the other side, there are burlap sacks filled with some type of crop (lentils). Behind the group are visible some of the houses in the village.

Adaptive Learning and Systems Analysis for JSPVAT

A complexity-aware, systems-informed external evaluation of an agricultural value-chain intervention in Bihar, India…read more