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Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195

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Technological Forecasting & Social Change

Creating the innovation ecosystem for renewable energy via social

entrepreneurship: Insights from India
Gita Surie
Department of Management, Adelphi University, One South Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530, United States

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper examines how social entrepreneurship, at both the firm and institutional levels, fosters innovation and
Received 22 February 2016 economic development. It draws on concepts from national innovation systems (NIS), complexity, ecosystems,
Received in revised form 7 November 2016 and social entrepreneurship research to develop a framework for forming innovation ecosystems via social entre-
Accepted 6 March 2017
preneurship. The framework is especially relevant for new market creation in renewable energy for rural and bot-
Available online 21 March 2017
tom of the pyramid (BOP) populations. Case studies from the renewable energy sector in India support the
framework. The paper suggests that creating a robust innovation ecosystem requires the following mechanisms
National innovation systems at the national level to provide the supporting infrastructure: (1) creation of new institutions; (2) policies to
Social entrepreneurship generate demand; (3) institutional support for linkages to build capabilities. Key mechanisms at the micro-
Ecosystem creation level include: (1) facilitating the entry of social entrepreneurs to serve the needs of rural populations; (2) use
Renewable energy of new technology platforms to diffuse entrepreneurial skills and enhance community interactions; and (3)
Developing economies establishing linkages with external organizations to enable resource acquisition.
Bottom of the pyramid © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction for two reasons. First, social entrepreneurship addresses the problem
of alleviating lack of access to energy by focusing on the socio-economic
National innovation systems (NIS) have gained in significance as in- environment of the BOP user rather than solely on the technology.
novation, particularly technological innovation is increasingly regarded Second, social entrepreneurship is more relevant because the poor com-
as the key to a country's competitive advantage (Lo et al., 2013; Samara mercialization environment for innovation in renewable energy in
et al., 2012). That entrepreneurship helps to diffuse capabilities and China, India, Mexico and Turkey (characterized by Walsh (2012) as an
facilitates market formation, important for NISs, is well recognized “Innovation Wasteland”), calls for different mechanisms for the diffu-
(Newbert, Gopalakrishnan and Kirchhoff, 2008). Social entrepreneur- sion of knowledge, capabilities and innovation and the development
ship, a form of entrepreneurship directed towards solving social prob- of an ecosystem.
lems such as providing access to energy (Swanson and Zhang, 2011; Renewable energy is an attractive option for developing economies
Dacin et al., 2010; Zahra et al., 2009; Goldstein et al., 2008), is of critical as it relies on locally available energy resources, alleviates environmen-
importance in rural India and other “base of the pyramid” clusters tal concerns and keeps petroleum import costs in line while satisfying
(Prahalad, 2007). the rising demand for energy to fuel economic growth. Developing
Lack of access to energy is a widespread problem as 1.2 billion peo- economies as a group (including China, Brazil and India) increased re-
ple in developing economies do not have access to electricity (OECD/ newable energy investments in 2014 by 36% to USD 131.3 billion, in-
IEA, 2015) and 2.9 billion people lack access to energy for lighting, creasing the share of developing economies to 49% in 2014 (REN21,
cooking and other purposes affecting livelihood generation (REN21, 2013). However, the diffusion and commercialization of renewable en-
2013). Providing modern energy services through innovative technolo- ergy technologies requires building capabilities, facilitating information
gies is crucial to alleviate this problem. Hence, this paper focuses on re- exchange and forming new markets to stimulate economic develop-
newable energy in India where the government has recently enacted ment, key functions of national innovation systems (Johnson, 2001;
new policies to catalyze this sector. Nelson, 1993; Lundvall, 1992, 2007).
However, social entrepreneurship is required for diffusing renew- Research on renewable energy has examined the adoption of specif-
able energy technologies for BOP populations and is more relevant ic technologies such as bio-digestion (Tigabu et al., 2015), wind energy
than mainstream commercial entrepreneurship (Austin et al., 2006) (Bronstein, 2011; Lee and Shih, 2011), photovoltaics (Lo et al., 2013),
and biomass and biofuels (Kajikawa and Takeda, 2008). Research also
focuses on renewable energy adoption and diffusion; themes include
E-mail address: surie@adelphi.edu. improving adoption (Yun and Lee, 2015), policies (van den Bergh,

0040-1625/© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195 185

2013), evaluation methodologies such as technology roadmaps (Jeffrey 2.1. National innovation systems
et al., 2013) and modeling transitions to a green economy (Musango et
al., 2014). However, additional guidance is needed on what trajectories Research on national innovation systems (NIS) spans various levels
might be appropriate for developing economies like India where path- of analysis, ranging from institutions to firms. The national innovation
ways for the diffusion of renewable energy to rural areas are not systems concept has been extended to regions (regional systems), tech-
established. nologies (technological innovation systems; Miyazaki and Islam, 2007;
Hence, this paper draws on the national innovation systems (NIS) Islam and Miyazaki, 2009), and industrial sectors (sectorial innovation
literature to examine the creation of a renewable energy innovation systems; Walsh, 2012). Broadly defined, an NIS includes all interrelated
ecosystem in India. It aims to augment understanding of emerging institutional actors that create, diffuse and exploit innovations. In con-
economy contexts, where conditions are starkly different from those trast, the narrow definition includes only organizations and institutions
in industrialized economies, as exhorted by Lundvall (2007), and to ex- directly related to technological innovation such as R&D departments,
amine social entrepreneurship in the context of NISs. While national universities and public institutes. Moreover, NISs are composed of
culture may be important for innovation (Harms and Groen, 2017) sub-systems including regional and sectoral systems of innovation
and entrepreneurship (Gupta et al., 2004), this paper focuses on other (Chung, 2002). Understanding the linkages among actors involved in in-
dimensions of NISs such as complexity. NISs are complex systems novation is critical for improving national innovative performance
(Samara et al., 2012; Holland, 1998; Arthur, 1989) or ecosystems (Lundvall, 1992; Nelson, 1993; Samara et al., 2012).
(Iansiti and Levien, 2004; Gómez-Uranga et al., 2014; Samara et al., Other researchers focus on the dynamics of the innovation process
2012). Consequently, attention must be directed to the characteristics (Hekkart et al., 2007; Samara et al., 2012). For example, Johnson
of complex systems such as interactions, linkages, non-linear processes, (2001) suggests that national innovation systems must: (1) Supply in-
emergence and self-organization (Lundvall, 2007). Additionally, NISs centives for companies to engage in innovative work; (2) supply re-
consist of sub-systems spanning multiple levels. For example, sub-sys- sources; (3) guide the direction of search; (4) recognize the potential
tems at the micro-level include firms and industries while sub-systems for growth; (5) facilitate information and knowledge exchange; (6)
at the macro level include institutions that frame the context and build stimulate/create markets; (7) reduce social uncertainty; and, (8) coun-
the infrastructure in which innovation occurs (Lundvall, 2007; Kaiser teract the resistance to change and provide legitimacy for the innovation.
and Prange, 2004; Dodgson et al., 2008). Elements of the system can in- Literature on NISs in industrialized economies has yielded insights
hibit or accelerate innovation and economic development. Likewise, on topics such as the impact of government policy on technological in-
change can be introduced at the micro-level or at the macro-level. novation, the propensity to engage in entrepreneurship in the U.S., and
The paper examines the following research question: (1) How does comparisons with other industrialized economies (Mowery, 2001;
social entrepreneurship impact the NIS1 at micro and macro levels to Dolfsma and Seo, 2013; Aldridge and Audretsch, 2011; Molero and
enable the creation of an innovation ecosystem in renewable energy? Garcia, 2008). In contrast, studies on NISs in developing economies
The question is examined using the lens of NIS, social entrepreneurship have focused on topics such as the imperative to imitate other econo-
and complex ecosystems to build a conceptual framework. The frame- mies, methods of diffusing knowledge, catch-up and leapfrog developed
work is supported by case studies. economies in specific areas. Recent studies include Chang and Shih's
This paper draws on concepts from the NIS, social entrepreneurship, (2004) study of the comparative strength of Taiwanese and Chinese in-
complex systems and ecosystems literatures to suggest that diffusing novation systems, and Binz et al.'s (2012) study of leapfrogging
innovations for the rural poor in developing economies requires mech- methods in the area of wastewater treatment in China. Other similar
anisms that allow new markets and industries or an ecosystem to studies on Brazil include those by Silvestre and Dalcol (2009) and
emerge, evolve and integrate with the national and global systems. Silvestre and Silva Neto (2013).
The paper makes two key contributions. First, it develops a framework However, past studies have not examined the role of social entrepre-
outlining mechanisms for forming an ecosystem and new markets via neurship or how social entrepreneurship can be leveraged to create an
social entrepreneurship. Second, it provides case examples in the re- ecosystem and form new markets. Studies on innovation systems for re-
newable energy sector in rural India to support the framework. newables such as biofuels (Patil et al., 2008; Romijn and Caniëls, 2011;
Rajagopal and Zilberman, 2007; Suurs and Hekkert, 2009) focus on fac-
tors (such as incentives and government intervention) that facilitate
2. Literature review adoption and diffusion. van den Burgh (2013) argues that technological
innovation must be supplemented with behavioral changes, related ef-
Themes from past research relevant to the paper are summarized ficiency and substitution mechanisms in production, consumption and
drawing from the following streams of literature: (1) NISs, specifically transport as well as regulation to contribute to emissions reduction.
related to renewable energy, (2) social entrepreneurship, and, (3) com- Yun and Lee (2015) note the importance of fostering societal demand
plex systems and ecosystems theories. and societal readiness for the adoption of sustainable energy innovation.
This paper extends research on national and technological innova- Likewise, Shi and Lai's (2013) review of the literature on green and low
tion systems by dealing with the creation of innovation ecosystems. carbon technology innovation highlights that: (1) more research on this
The paper also attempts to link research on innovation systems with re- topic is required, particularly in developing economies; (2) the major
search on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, a link not hith- themes include innovation adoption and diffusion; (3) the promotion
erto emphasized. This is important as the link between systems at the of these technologies cannot be separated from the policy or regulation
macro level and the efforts of entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs regime and, (4) local governments and NGOs play a key role, especially
at the micro level can yield insights on ecosystem creation. Additionally, in developing economies such as China.
complex systems and ecosystems theories highlight the innovation sys- These studies indicate a need to address behavioral changes or in-
tem as a complex system in which social entrepreneurs play a key role crease societal readiness to facilitate renewable energy adoption. How-
and are endogenous rather than exogenous to the system. ever, the role and impact of social entrepreneurship in forming
ecosystems and new markets is not examined.

2.2. Social entrepreneurship

In this paper, the term innovation system is used to denote both the national innova-
tion system and its sub-systems including sectoral innovation systems and technological Research on entrepreneurship highlights its importance in economic
innovation systems. growth and development (Kirchhoff et al., 2013; Headd and Kirchoff,
186 G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195

2009; Shane, 2006; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000; Kirzner, 1979; but do not include groups that only engage in social activism and or-
Baumol, 1990; Schumpeter, 1934). New firms, particularly new high- ganizations that exist to provide social services but do so without
technology ventures with disruptive technologies, are important for demonstrating entrepreneurialism and self-sufficiency” (Swanson
job creation and contribute to distributing wealth (Kirchhoff et al., and Zhang, 2011).
2013; Spencer et al., 2008; Michelacci, 2003; Walsh et al., 2002; Birch,
1979). Other research has focused on the behaviors of entrepreneurs While some scholars like VanSandt et al. (2009) argue that social
and factors accounting for successful entrepreneurship (Gupta et al., entrepreneurship can alleviate social ills, others, like Sud et al. (2009)
2004; Williams, 1983; de Kets Vries, 1977; Honig, 1998) in contexts suggest that it cannot solve social problems for reasons such as organi-
ranging from science and technology to micro enterprises in developing zational legitimacy, isomorphism, and moral, political and structural
countries (Aldridge and Audretsch, 2011). reasons. Despite debate about its efficacy, social entrepreneurship has
Governments in developing economies have made efforts to encour- generated much interest as a catalyst of transformation in the develop-
age entrepreneurship and technological innovation, given their impor- ing economy context. This paper focuses on how social entrepreneur-
tance, especially in small and medium scale business (Dolfsma and ship can facilitate the creation of an innovation ecosystem.
Seo, 2013; Kang and Park, 2012; Leff, 1979). Entrepreneurship in devel-
oping countries, particularly at the base of the pyramid (Prahalad and 2.3. Complex systems and ecosystems
Hammond, 2002; Prahalad, 2007; London and Hart, 2004) differs from
that in the industrialized world (Silvestre and Silva Neto, 2013; Walsh, Both social entrepreneurship (Swanson and Zhang, 2011) and na-
2012). In developing economies entrepreneurs must mobilize capital tional systems of innovation (Samara et al., 2012; Chung, 2002) are
and specialized labor in imperfect markets characterized by poor infor- complex systems and can be viewed from an ecosystems perspective.
mation and rapid structural change (Walsh, 2012; Leff, 1979). Likewise, Complex systems involve non-linear dynamics (McKelvey, 2004) rele-
diffusing technologies involves creating channels for input supply and vant for new venture emergence (Chiles et al., 2004, 2009; McKelvey,
sales and introducing disruptive innovations to serve new markets 2004) and are characteristic of technological systems and technological
(Walsh, 2012; Christensen et al., 2003). Without entrepreneurship, in- evolution (Iansiti, 1995). Similarly, social entrepreneurship involves
vestment in these activities might not occur. non-linear dynamics by focusing on individual entrepreneurs’ creativi-
Social entrepreneurship is valuable in commercialization environ- ty, vision, commitment and ability to recombine resources to create
ments prevalent in developing economies as it refers to an ability to le- new products and drive far-from-equilibrium market processes to cre-
verage resources and specifically address social problems (Dacin et al., ate market order (Chiles et al., 2004, 2009).
2010; Goldstein et al., 2008; Zahra et al., 2009). Often, entrepreneurial Borrowing from ecology, Iansiti and Richards (2006) characterize in-
efforts are stymied by a lack of available capital in developing countries dustries as complex, inter-dependent networks of firms or “business
due to insufficient demand (as in the case of renewable energy), thus in- ecosystems”. Members of a business ecosystem consist of a broad sys-
creasing the risk and cost of innovation (Walsh, 2012). Consequently, tem of mutually supportive organizations. These include, among others,
other entities such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and customers, suppliers, leading producers, business associations and stan-
academic institutions may assume a social entrepreneurship role to fa- dardization bodies (Gómez-Uranga et al., 2014; Iansiti and Levien,
cilitate successful innovation. 2004). Interactions among the various organizations comprising the
Definitions of social entrepreneurship (SE) abound. Austin et al. ecosystem are critical and drive ecosystem dynamics.
(2006) suggest that SE involves the operations of government or non- Prior studies using a complex systems perspective have primarily fo-
profit organizations using business principles. They define social entre- cused on the emergence of entrepreneurial ventures (Tan, 2007; Chiles
preneurship as “innovative, social value creating activity that can occur et al., 2004; Lichtenstein et al., 2007). A few studies have examined
within or across the nonprofit, business, or government sectors” (Austin order creation and ecosystems (Tapsell and Woods, 2008;
et al., 2006). However, they recognize that most definitions of SE in pop- Gómez-Uranga et al., 2014; Iansiti and Richards, 2006; Suurs and
ular discourse focus on Se within and across the nonprofit and business Hekkert, 2009). However, with some exceptions (Chung, 2002), re-
sectors. Baron (2005) and Young (2001) define SE as activities of con- search has not focused on the emergence of ecosystems at the base of
ventional entrepreneurs practicing corporate social responsibility. Sim- the pyramid in developing countries where many missing components
ilarly, SE encompasses outcomes of organized philanthropy (Reis and of the ecosystem must be created. Also, dynamic interactions between
Clohesy, 1999; Van Slyke and Newman, 2006). SE is defined as involving different types of organizations that lead to the emergence of an ecosys-
social innovation (Bornstein, 2004) and, as economically sustainable tem are not examined. These include interactions between institutions,
ventures that generate social value (Emerson and Twersky, 1996; public sector organizations, non-governmental organizations and in-
Robinson, 2006). Definitions of social entrepreneurship emphasize dustrial firms. Hence, this paper uses research on the characteristics of
four key factors: the characteristics of individual social entrepreneurs, ecosystems in the natural environment to inform understanding of eco-
their operating sector, the processes and resources used by them and system emergence and the design of new ecosystems.
the primary mission, activities and outcomes associated with them Ecosystems in the natural environment consist of diverse, intercon-
(Dacin et al., 2010). Zahra et al. (2009) suggest three typologies for nected and autonomous agents (Ruhl et al., 2007; Pahl-Wostl, 1995;
the activities of social entrepreneurs – social bricoleur, social construc- Holland, 1995). Ecosystems provide various functions and services.
tionist, and social engineer. Their health depends on moving and transforming energy and materials
This paper uses Swanson and Zhang’s (2011) definition which posi- through processes such as photosynthesis, plant nutrient uptake, micro-
tions SE on a map of organizational forms in a region called the social en- bial respiration, nitrification and de-nitrification, plant transpiration,
trepreneurship zone. This positioning helps draw a boundary around root activity, and predator-prey interactions (Virginia and Wall, 2001;
where social entrepreneurial organizations reside based on the ap- Schipanski et al., 2014; Van der Biest et al., 2014; Smith and Sullivan,
proaches adopted to enable social change, and the level of business 2014). Frequent and varied interactions are critical for ecosystem evolu-
practices used to support their mission. Their definition does not in- tion. Two other properties of ecosystems are relevant for industrial eco-
clude organizations that provide social services without demonstrating systems: (1) resistance – the ability of an ecosystem to withstand
entrepreneurialism. They state that: external stress without loss of function; and, (2) resilience – the ability
of the ecosystem to recover from disturbance (Allison and Hobbs, 2004;
“Organizations in the social entrepreneurship zone might be orga- Ruhl et al., 2007). This is generally dependent on maintaining species di-
nized as profit generating entities, not-for-profit organizations, and versity to allow adaptive response. Diversity and interaction are, thus,
some forms of social services agencies and government institutions; necessary to maintain resistance and resilience.
G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195 187

Iansiti and Richards (2006) suggest that, in the case of business eco- dynamically leading to the emergence of order and self-organization
systems, health is indicated by the robustness, productivity and innova- (Holland, 1995, 1998; Holland and Miller, 1991; Ruhl et al., 2007;
tion (niche creation) of the business ecosystem. Ecosystem boundaries Pahl-Wostl, 1995; Goldstein, 2011; Simon, 1965). In the natural envi-
are difficult to delimit perfectly as they are “open” systems. For example, ronment, ecosystem species provide services that modify the rates of
in the information technology (IT) ecosystem, the value of a single IT energy transfer and influence the resource base of the ecosystem by
product is influenced by organizations dispersed across numerous changing the distribution or importation of nutrients. Ecosystem pro-
traditional industries ranging from software application developers to cesses such as productivity, the rate of nitrogen mineralization, and ni-
venture capital firms (Iansiti and Richards, 2006). Also, ecosystem pro- trate leaching are affected by the modification of ecosystems and
cesses receive some energy and materials from outside and use energy changes in the biota (Chapin et al., 1997). Species diversity is important
to transform and recycle materials internally and build ecosystem struc- for ecosystem processes because species differ in the rates and path-
ture, and then move some energy and materials back to the outside ways by which they process resources, in their interactions with other
(Ruhl et al., 2007; Ruhl, 1999). Finally, as ecosystem processes operate species and effects on the environment. Traits with profound effects
at many scales, they can be studied at many scales. are those that: (1) have an impact on the use of resources; (2) affect
Using these insights about the properties of ecosystems, the paper feeding relationships within a community, and (3) influence the fre-
focuses on how the national system of innovation can be designed to fa- quency, severity and extent of disturbances (Chapin et al., 1997).
cilitate the emergence of new innovation ecosystems - i.e. markets. Changes in the composition of species can alter ecosystem processes
Moreover, the design of the new ecosystem involves using social entre- through changes in the functional traits of biota. Such changes in local
preneurship organizations. Fig. 1 highlights the paper's contributions. ecosystem processes can also affect regional processes such as nutrient
transfers to aquatic ecosystems and can have far reaching impact be-
2.4. Framework: ecosystem creation via social entrepreneurship yond the original zone of species change (Chapin et al., 1997). Addition-
ally, species diversity (richness or number of species and evenness of
Drawing on the theories presented earlier, this section develops a species' abundance) and interactions are critical for the robustness, pro-
framework for ecosystem creation via social entrepreneurship. The ductivity and health of the ecosystem.
paper focuses on three key functions of national innovation systems: In the context of industrial innovation systems, species diversity
facilitating knowledge exchange, supplying incentives for companies refers to the diversity in the type of organization. Some examples of
to engage in innovative work, and creating new markets (Johnson, different types of organizations include public sector organizations,
2001). Research on ecosystems notes that they are complex adaptive non-governmental organizations, for-profit firms and social entrepre-
systems composed of sub-systems, building blocks and mechanisms neurship organizations. Each plays a different role in the ecosystem
that allow linkages to form and diverse agents to interact and co-evolve and provides different services. Given the differential impact of each

National Social Complex systems Contributions of

innovation entrepreneurship and ecosystems this paper
systems theories
Research context Mainly Industrialized and Mainly Developing
industrialized few studies on industrialized economies/Base of
economies; few developing economies; natural the pyramid
studies on economies environment
Research - NISs (Nelson, -Impact of -Technological - Emergence of an
dimensions 1993; Lundvall, entrepreneurship systems (Iansiti, innovation system
1992). on economic 1995). - Need for social
- Functions of growth and - Business entrepreneurship
innovation systems development ecosystems (Iansiti in NIS.
(Johnson, 2001). (Kirchhoff et al., and Richards, - Conceptual
- Impact of 2013); 2006 ; Iansiti and model of SE and
government policy -innovation at the Lieven, 2004). NIS based on an
(Mowery, 2001; base of the - Characteristics ecosystem
Aldridge and pyramid (BOP) and health of perspective
Audretsch, 2011; (Hall et al., 2014). natural ecosystems - Micro and macro
Mahroum and Al- - Entrepreneurship (Ruhl et al., 2007; level linkages in
Saleh, 2013). in developing Allison and the ecosystem and
- Leapfrogging countries Hobbs, 2004; linkages beyond
catch-up with (Silvestre and Chapin et al., system boundaries.
industrialized Neto, 2013; Kang 1997).
countries (Binz et and Park, 2012).
al, 2012). - Complexity and
SE (Swanson and
Zhang, 2011).
Emphasis on State of NIS is Entrepreneurial State and process Focuses on:
processes taken as a given; emergence dynamics of - Novel dynamics
minimal emphasis processes; some emergence of creation;
on processes. emphasis on (Goldstein, 1998; - Deliberate de
differences in BOP Goldstein, 2011; novo construction
processes. Holland, 1999) of an ecosystem.

Fig. 1. Theoretical lenses used and contributions of the paper.

188 G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195

type of organization, creating a robust ecosystem requires mechanisms capabilities and, thereby, increase livelihood generation opportunities.
that facilitate the entry of new types of organizations to enable the A potential outcome of improved conditions in the local community is
diffusion of new technologies at the base of the pyramid. reduced migration to overburdened cities. Also, improved linkages
Among various types of organizations, social entrepreneurship orga- between rural communities and institutions in the national system
nizations are particularly important because they provide services to can facilitate the diffusion of knowledge and resources, leading to great-
targeted populations (in this case, rural populations) neglected by er resistance and resilience in the ecosystem. Thus, social entrepreneur-
established firms. The presence of social entrepreneurship organiza- ship organizations provide an important pathway in the national
tions enhances diversity by providing variation in organizational form. innovation system for adoption of new technologies (Chavez et al.,
These organizations increase the availability of resources as they tap re- 2016). This framework is used to analyze case studies in renewable
sources that were previously inaccessible or underutilized. Consequent- energy presented in section four to understand the development and
ly, they can have a major impact on the ecosystem by making available emergence of the renewable energy ecosystem in India.
resources not available previously to rural populations. They can also
influence rates of energy transfer within the system and change the
3. Context
distribution or importation of resources, similar to the way in which mi-
gratory salmon import nutrients from oceans to streams (Chapin et al.,
Renewable energy plays a key role in promoting socio-economic in-
1997). Likewise, simulations show that conversion of the Amazon
clusion and reducing poverty by meeting energy requirements in rural
basin from forest to pasture can cause permanent warming and drying
and remote locations where electricity and cooking fuel are unavailable
of South America. Analogously, the introduction of social entrepreneur-
or in short supply. This paper focuses on renewable energy in India,
ship organizations on a large scale can have a system wide impact at a
where attempts are being made to introduce both technological and so-
regional or national level. Moreover, some of these organizations, by
cial innovation. Hence, the Indian NIS is a highly relevant context for
having large keystone effects, can also transform existing relationships
studying ecosystem creation and social entrepreneurship.
in these communities (Iansiti and Levien, 2004).
Drawing from research on ecosystems, building a new industrial in-
novation ecosystem requires mechanisms or building blocks that enable 3.1. The Indian economy
the ecosystem to flourish. At the macro or national level, ecosystem cre-
ation requires: (1) the establishment of new government institutions to The Indian NIS is relevant as its importance in the global economy is
focus attention; (2) new policies and regulations to generate demand. rising. The Indian economy grew at a rate of over 7.0% in 2015 (Asian
Both these mechanisms catalyze the entry of new public and private or- Development Bank, 2015). After independence in1947, the Indian NIS
ganizations into the sector; and (3) institutional support for linkages evolved via a series of Five-year Plans aimed at building capabilities in
that foster new interactions and diffuse capabilities. strategic industries indigenously. However, after economic liberaliza-
Similarly, at the micro level, key ecosystem mechanisms include: (1) tion in 1991, in addition to indigenous capability building in new strate-
entry of social entrepreneurship organizations and social entrepreneurs gic industries, there was greater emphasis on innovation and building
to serve the needs of rural communities; (2) technology platforms globally competitive firms. A key goal of the Twelfth Five-year Plan
(Ratinho et al., 2015) that diffuse entrepreneurship skills and multiply (2012–2017) is to achieve socio-economic inclusion of underserved,
the level of interactions in the community; and (2) linkages with exter- poor and rural populations that lack access to basic services and re-
nal organizations that provide access to additional resources. sources such as health, education, sanitation, water, electricity, and live-
Social entrepreneurship organizations alter ecosystem processes lihood generation; the government of India also outlined steps to
by providing new services and products that enhance the productivity accelerate innovation by improving the national innovation system
of the system, change the distribution of resources, improve local (GOI, 2013).

- New government SE1

Community Processes organizations
- Productivity - New policies & regulations
- Rate of job creation - Institutional support for
- Improved habitat linkages

Introduction of Ecosystem
sectoral social Micro-level Processes
entrepreneurship Traits of SE1 - Energy availability
- Waste treatment National
organizations organiza-
i.e. social - Rural-urban Innovation
tions migration
entrepreneurs in System
renewable energy - Government as
Ecosystem services
to targeted rural
- Resource use
- Capability diffusion
- Job creation

Social entrepreneurship

Fig. 2. Embedding social entrepreneurship organizations in ecosystem design.

G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195 189

Renewable Electric Power Capacity,

Top Seven Countries, 2015
i 400 Bio-power
a Solar PV
w 200
Concentrating solar thermal
t 100
power (CSP)
0 Wind power

Fig. 3. Renewable electric power capacity, top seven countries, 2015. (adapted from REN21, 2016).

3.2. Renewable energy in India Data from case studies reported in this paper were drawn from in-
terviews (more than 30 interviews during 2009–2011) conducted as
Although India was a late entrant into the field of renewable energy, part of a larger study. Further interviews (25 interviews) were conduct-
the country has made rapid strides in adding renewable power capacity ed during 2013–2014. These interviews focused on organizations en-
(see Figs. 3 and 4). The shift to renewables, which account for about 1% gaged in commercializing “green technologies”, an emergent sector in
of the total commercial energy used in 2011, was limited by high unit India. Interviews were conducted with CEOs, government officials, cor-
costs. Other challenges include the fact that renewable energy is loca- porate executives, scientists and researchers in universities and firms in
tion specific and not evenly distributed, requires new infrastructure the renewable energy sector. Data were supplemented through site
costing up to approximately USD 6,000 million and large initial capital visits, presentations, annual reports and published material.
investments, and the low penetration of renewables for urban and Interviews were transcribed and the data were analyzed by using
industrial applications. Progress was slow and only 57% of the targeted categorization and pattern-matching techniques as suggested by Yin
villages were electrified by the end of the 11th plan. The 12th plan (2009), Miles and Huberman (1994), Eisenhardt (1989). The literature
focuses on renewable energy for off-grid, distributed power, and for on national innovation systems and ecosystems was examined first
rural applications (GOI, 2013) besides urban, industrial and commercial followed by research on social entrepreneurship. Cases were analyzed
applications. It also aims to improve R&D for renewable energy, by iterating from theory to data and vice versa and by matching patterns
strengthen institutional mechanisms, accelerate the deployment of obtained from the data with the above theories as recommended by Yin
renewable energy, and quintuple targets (GOI, 2013). Social entrepre- (2009). These analyses yielded a conceptual model for how social entre-
neurship is a central element in renewable energy programs. For exam- preneurship facilitates the creation of an ecosystem and new markets
ple, the National Policy on Biofuels (GOI, 2009) aimed to use non-food for renewable energy technologies. Insights from the model and cases
feed-stocks raised on degraded land for biofuel production; the govern- are presented below.
ment planned to fund rural employment schemes to facilitate feedstock
production and processing for the nascent biofuels sector (GOI, 2009). 4. Insights from renewable energy in India
Finally, the new government under Prime Minister Modi has made in-
frastructure development a national priority and increased renewable This section traces the evolution of the Indian renewable energy sec-
targets to about 175 GW by 2022 (Government of India, 2015a). tor in solar and biofuels/biomass. The framework outlined earlier high-
lights mechanisms for ecosystem creation at both macro and micro
levels3. The case studies suggest that besides the need for policies and
3.3. Methods institution building to promote renewable energy, social entrepreneur-
ship plays a critical role in diffusing innovations to BOP populations.
Case study methodology is used to examine the research question
regarding the role and importance of social entrepreneurship in the 4.1. Building institutional infrastructure to catalyze entrepreneurship and
NIS and the mechanisms for creating an ecosystem: How does social en- social entrepreneurship: macro-level mechanisms
trepreneurship impact the NIS2 at micro and macro levels to enable the
creation of an innovation ecosystem in renewable energy? This meth- Creating a new industrial ecosystem in renewable energy entailed
odology is appropriate when asking how or why questions and when the formation of a new institutional infrastructure. First, the govern-
the phenomenon is rare, unique or critical for theory creation (Yin, ment established new institutions to direct sustained attention to the
2009; Davis et al., 2007). Following Lee (1999), this paper extends renewable energy sector. Second, the government enacted policies
existing theory to develop new theory. Hence, complex systems and and regulations to create an institutional context to stimulate demand
ecosystems theories are used as an overarching frame to link social en- and catalyze the entry of new organizations in the renewable energy
trepreneurship with national innovation systems. Inductive case analy- sector. Third, the government provided institutional support for link-
sis provides rich context and helps in understanding how social ages to enable new interactions and diffuse knowledge.
entrepreneurship evolves in the innovation system and how new mar-
kets/ecosystems are formed (Stevenson and Harmeling, 1990). It also 4.1.1. New institutions
helps to understand underlying processes by making concepts concrete India's Department of Science and Technology created a working
(Eisenhardt and Graebner, 2007). group on power and energy to explore solar and other renewable tech-
nologies in 1973. It next constituted a Commission for New and
In this paper, the term innovation system is used to denote both the national innova-
tion system and its sub-systems including sectoral innovation systems and technological Macro level refers to the national system (i.e. institutions and national organizations)
innovation systems. while micro level refers to the local ecosystem including individual organizations.
190 G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195

Investment in Renewable Power and Fuels in India -2004-


Billion USD
5 India

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Fig. 4. Investments in renewable power and fuels in India (2004–2014). (adapted from REN21, 2015).

Renewable Energy in 1981, which was upgraded to the Ministry of New The Solar Mission also aimed to create an environment that fostered
and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 1992. MNRE aimed to increase energy the diffusion of solar technology in India. The first phase (up to 2013)
security, raise the share of renewables and increase access to electricity focused on solar thermal and off-grid systems to serve populations
in rural areas via programs to either supplement or replace conventional without access to commercial energy. The mission also aimed to add
sources of energy with renewables. For example, decentralized produc- capacity in grid-based systems. In the second phase, the aim was to
tion of solar energy can replace kerosene for lighting. enhance capacity to enable solar energy penetration throughout India
While fossil-fuels remain the primary sources of energy, in the past at competitive levels. The target was to enable deployment of
decade, MNRE's role has increasingly become main-stream. The major 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022; this involved ramping up capacity
sources of renewable energy include solar, biomass, wind, and small of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW by 2013 and
hydro (up to 25 MW). Estimates from the 1990s indicate that the prima- an additional 3000 MW by 2017. These targets were to be achieved
ry areas of wind potential in India lie in the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Grid-potential for solar utilities backed by a preferential tariff. Through these measures capacity
energy lies in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, was anticipated to double by 2017 or more, reaching 10,000 MW
while small hydro projects are primarily suited to the Himalayan belt. through international finance and technology transfer. The target of
The estimated potential (not including solar energy) is 100 GW; with achieving grid competitive solar power by 2022 was expected to be
the present technology (as of 2010), most solar plants were of 50 MW. achieved through “learning” in the first two phases. Moreover,
MNRE established various institutions to facilitate the development programs for off-grid applications aimed at achieving a target of
of renewable energy technologies. For example, the Centre for Wind En- 1000 MW by 2017 and deploying 20 million solar lighting systems in
ergy Technology (C-WET) was established in 1998 as a technical focal rural areas by 2022. The mandate of the Solar Mission was to create fa-
point to facilitate the development of wind power in India. Likewise, it vorable conditions for indigenous solar manufacturing capability to
set up the Solar Energy Centre in 2005 to conduct research on solar en- achieve market leadership, (Government of India, 2010). The new gov-
ergy applications. The Solar Energy Centre was also involved in validat- ernment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2014) increased renewable
ing and reengineering indigenous and foreign technologies to make energy targets to raise renewable energy capacity by more than five
them suitable for local conditions. Channeling investments through times from 32 GW in 2014 to 175 GW by 2022 with the mission of mak-
new public sector institutions helped to focus on building capabilities ing India the world’s clean energy capital. Additionally, the goal was to
in renewable energy at the national level and signaled the importance mobilize USD 1 trillion for investment by 2030 (Government of India,
of renewable energy technologies. 2016). In 2015, a new scheme was introduced – Ujwal DISCOM Assur-
ance Yojna or UDAY – to turn around and revive power distribution
companies (DISCOMs) which had accumulated losses of approximately
4.1.2. New policies and regulations to generate demand
INR 3800 billion and outstanding debt of INR 4300 billion4. Key features
Policies for the renewable energy sector were aimed at promoting
of the scheme were that states would take over 75% of DISCOM debt
various sources of renewable energy. The 2003 Electricity Act
over a two-year period (2015–2017) and that debt not taken over by
(Government of India, 2003) stipulated levels of production of renew-
the state would be converted by banks into loans or bonds with an inter-
able energy for every state, and shares of electricity from renewable en-
est rate of not more than the banks’ base rate plus 0.1%. State DISCOMs
ergy in the range of 2%–12%, depending on resource availability. The
would have to comply with the Renewable Purchase Obligation to be
Electricity Act also stipulated a preferential tariff for renewable energy,
decided in consultation with the Ministry of Power and states accepting
though there was no standard tariff for the country as a whole and
the scheme would be given additional priority funding. The scheme
prices varied from state to state. The Electricity Act permitted stand-
would enable DISCOMs to break even in 2–3 years, improve operational
alone systems (including those based on renewable energy) for rural
efficiencies, reduce the cost of power, reduce the interest cost of
areas. It also included a national policy for rural electrification, bulk pur-
DISCOMs and enforce financial discipline on DISCOMs. While the
chase of power and management of local distribution in rural areas
scheme was optional for all states, by 2016, 15 states had joined the
through Panchayat Institutions (village level governing bodies), users'
scheme (Government of India, 2015b).
associations, co-operative societies and other non-governmental orga-
These policies were imperative as 40% of rural households had no
nizations. It obligated the government to supply electricity to all areas
energy connection. Over 80,000 of the 600,000 villages in India needed
including villages and hamlets.
to be electrified via a basket of technologies. The government also devel-
The National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) focused more at-
oped programs to use solar and biomass gasification technologies to
tention on renewable energy. The plan identified eight core “national
meet the power requirements for lighting and other needs in rural
missions” including the National Solar Mission and the National Mission
areas. Policies also aimed to shift the rural population from using bio-
for Enhanced Energy Efficiency running through 2017. The Jawaharlal
mass to using biogas (a cleaner fuel) for cooking. Currently, although
Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aimed to accelerate
some four million biogas systems had been deployed in villages, only
technological innovation and rapidly scale up capacity to drive costs
down towards grid parity by 2022 and expand existing off-grid solar ap-
plications to meet rural energy needs in a cost-effective manner. 4
INR 66.80 = USD 1.0.
G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195 191

about 55%–60% of these systems were functional. Additionally, other required. Nevertheless, the government had been successful in develop-
programs (including research and development projects) focused on ing policies for technology dissemination and deployment. Recent steps
converting urban waste to energy for power generation. such as the removal of restrictions on foreign participation and the pro-
These policies focused on generating demand through mechanisms vision of an assured market were aimed at building the ecosystem by
such as subsidies to promote adoption of renewable energy technolo- promoting manufacturing and attracting private sector participation
gies, preferential tariffs, bulk purchasing of power and by working to a market estimated at 20,000 MW for solar energy and 23,000 MW
with village institutions such as Panchayats. Policies were aimed at fos- for wind energy.
tering the rapid entry of new organizations such as social entrepreneur-
ship organizations and for-profit organizations, into the renewable
4.2. Diffusing renewable energy technologies through social entrepreneur-
energy sector. These efforts were successful as evidenced by the electri-
ship: micro-level mechanisms
fication of 7,108 un-electrified villages in 2015–2016. In addition,
31,472 solar pumps were installed in 2015–2016, the highest number
This section outlines key ecosystems mechanisms at the micro level.
since 1991 and 4132 MW of solar capacity was added during this period,
These mechanisms include: (1) the entry of social entrepreneurs and
an increase of 157 2014. Likewise, 3423 MW of wind capacity was added
social entrepreneurship organizations in the renewable energy sector;
in 2015–2016 (Government of India, 2016).
(2) the use of technology platforms for diffusing entrepreneurship skills
and multiplying community interactions, and; (3) the creation of exter-
nal linkages to acquire additional resources.
4.1.3. Institutional support for linkages to build capabilities
Institutional support was provided through programs for the dis-
semination of renewable energy systems. MNRE recognized that the in- 4.2.1. Entry of social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship
volvement of industry and other partners in the ecosystem was critical. organizations
Therefore, it worked with state agencies, non-governmental organiza- Economic liberalization in 1991 opened the Indian economy to mul-
tions, and partnered with banks and industry to disseminate renewable tinational companies, and an increasingly competitive economic envi-
energy technologies and products. For example, the Solar Energy Cen- ronment provided a strong impetus for domestic companies to
tre, through its evaluation of technologies and assessment of standards, upgrade technology and management. This environment was also
was involved in influencing international standards and test protocols. more conducive to entrepreneurship as evidenced by the globalization
In industrialized countries, solar modules were mainly subjected to of Indian companies in the information technology sector (NASSCOM
tests involving low temperature conditions (− 40 °C). As these tests and McKinsey, 2005). However, these large domestic companies did
were not relevant in India where high temperatures were the norm, not cater to the needs of the rural population. Hence, it was critical to
the Solar Energy Center modified international test protocols and stan- encourage social entrepreneurship and build markets in rural areas to
dards to suit local conditions, thereby reducing the rate of degradation integrate the rural population with the rest of the economy.
of solar modules. The Solar Energy Center also built linkages with inter- Social entrepreneurship was diffused via various means. First, suc-
national institutions and provided a supportive institutional environ- cessful entrepreneurs inspired others to pursue entrepreneurial oppor-
ment conducive to capability building by domestic firms. tunities in the social sector. Second, university-industry linkages also led
Likewise, given the government’s obligation to provide electricity for to the creation of social entrepreneurship ventures to serve the needs of
all in rural areas, linkages were built to disseminate solar lighting. Vari- the rural population. Leading public technical universities in India had a
ous government agencies subsidized the corporate social responsibility mandate to diffuse know-how and technology to rural areas, and collab-
(CSR) activities of industrial firms. In doing so, the government (via orations across organizations were encouraged. For example, a team at
nodal agencies) developed linkages with external suppliers (firms) IIT-Madras incubated several technologies specifically for use in rural
and subsidized 30–50% of projects involving decentralized solar energy areas. Among other technologies, the innovations included a low-cost
to increase the affordability of renewable energy technologies. ATM machine (Surie, 2011). Additionally, government incentives, such
The entry of many organizations in the renewable energy sector also as subsidies for renewable energy also helped to catalyze the entry of
made it more viable. The cost of a solar lighting system dropped to INR new players in the social sector. Third, independent inventors of
2000 by 2012 from INR 40005 in 2007. Outreach had increased and over technologies also became entrepreneurs. Examples of entrepreneurial
the next five years all households were expected to have electricity and ventures targeting rural populations are outlined below.
cooking stoves based on cleaner energy. The industry had also attracted Rural Power was established by an engineer who aspired to bring
multinational firms such as British Petroleum (one reason was multina- light to rural India as he grew up in a village with no electricity. While
tionals' need for obtaining carbon credits). Likewise, the Solar Energy training as an engineer, he realized that it was critical to focus on
Center had helped to deploy solar lighting, water pumps and purifiers power generation and storage to make alternative energy solutions via-
in villages and develop local small manufacturers by providing training ble. In particular, very small rural applications needed efficient and low
and product specifications. By 2012, about 150 manufacturers, and large power small generators (of a few watts instead of kilowatts of energy).
domestic companies such as Tata Industries and Reliance Industries had Therefore he focused on developing specialized technologies for rural
entered these markets. applications such as a small, high-life, low-load, zero-friction generator
The Solar Energy Center also forged technology partnerships to for a manually operated spinning wheel powered by human energy. The
acquire new technologies. Additionally, a Solar Chair and Solar Fellow spinning wheel required low force to generate energy, and was targeted
positions were established to recruit internationally experienced re- towards very poor families in areas where electricity was unavailable.
searchers to work on solar energy applications in India. Two hours of spinning generated approximately 12 Wh of energy for
Despite these steps, scaling up indigenous solar technologies had powering a light or radio. The spinning wheel cost INR 45,000 (bUS $
proved difficult. Although solar photovoltaic technologies had been pur- 1000) and was adopted by more than 6000 families. It had a life of fif-
sued in India since the mid-1970s in public sector enterprises such as teen years and did not require any components to be changed except
Central Electronics Limited, most technologies currently in use were li- the battery, which lasted five years. This solution provided double the
censed from external sources. The lack of success in technology devel- efficiency of existing technology and helped to empower older people
opment was attributed to the lack of freedom and low budgets of in villages. Rural Power also developed other specialized small motors
Indian public sector units which inhibited pursuit of R&D to the levels for applications such as a solar oil extractor, rice huller, rope maker,
battery-charging station and solar-powered community washing
INR 62.28 = USD 1.00 (February 8, 2014). machines.
192 G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195

Similarly, Bio Power, a social entrepreneurship venture established local ecosystem, catalyze entrepreneurship and accelerate village
in 1996, focused on renewable energy derived from biomass to provide electrification.
villagers access to electricity. Bio Power began by setting up a 100 kW Similarly, Rural Power partnered with academic institutions in India
biomass gasification plant to provide electricity to micro-enterprises for inputs in solar energy storage. It partnered with a Chinese company
using technology obtained from one of the leading research institutes to manufacture skill-based components, but assembly and quality-con-
in India. The company aimed to stimulate development through em- trol were conducted in India. Product distribution was accomplished
ployment, power generation, and partnerships in about 100 villages. through partnerships with NGOs (non-governmental organizations).
To achieve its goals, Bio Power established a 50 kW power plant and a Likewise, rural start-up ventures incubated by IIT-Madras were linked
cooperative organization in an interior village in Bihar, one of the with the institute.
poorest states in India, to supply power to micro-enterprises. The aim Additionally, start-up ventures acquired resources by forging link-
of the cooperative was to sell services to villagers through micro-enter- ages with the government to take advantage of specific government
prises for hulling rice, milling flour, charging batteries and pumping schemes to subsidize the adoption of renewable energy technologies.
water for irrigation. Villagers recognized the value of these services For example, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Program
and became members of the cooperative. As a result of these initiatives, (NREGP) provides jobs to adult members of rural households for public
micro-enterprises began to grow and thrive in the village, more facilities work involving unskilled manual labor at a specified daily rate. Thus, so-
were introduced and demand for electricity increased. Additionally, as it cial entrepreneurship organizations could draw resources from a varie-
became viable to set up a mini-grid, the company built a smaller, 11- ty of sources, including government agencies, international bodies and
kilowatt power plant. Villagers managed and ran the gasification plant local firms. Additionally, technological knowledge was obtained from
and were taught how to treat agricultural residues to be used in the experts in universities, while NGOs helped to disseminate expertise, ed-
plant. Feedstocks included various types of biomass such as low density ucate and train the rural population and provide insights about their
crops, jungle woods, saw waste and maize husks. Crops for feed-stocks needs.
became a source of revenue for villagers as they sold the biomass to the Moreover, social entrepreneurship organizations introduced new
power plant. It was also possible to grow some crops on barren land. processes in the ecosystem. They enhanced the productivity of the sys-
By building the villagers' capabilities, Bio Power enabled them to be- tem by making use of underutilized human capital in villages. For exam-
come more self-sufficient and to engage in entrepreneurial activity. ple, unemployed villagers were able to engage in entrepreneurial
Livelihoods were enhanced as a result of these interventions and activ- activity and generate livelihoods; moreover, rural outsourcing units
ities and led to an increase in the demand for electricity. The organiza- were set up to take advantage of available low cost labor. Social entre-
tion planned to replicate this system in about 100 villages, achieve preneurship organizations also facilitated change in the distribution of
scale and grow the ecosystem. Thus, the diffusion of entrepreneurship resources by enabling the entry of new participants from villages into
in these villages facilitated economic development and enabled the the market economy. By improving linkages between isolated rural
emergence of new markets. communities and urban India, they facilitated the exchange of informa-
tion, knowledge and resources, thereby stabilizing the ecosystem and
increasing resistance and resilience. Finally, changes in rural ecosystem
4.2.2. Technology platforms
processes arising from the improved availability of electricity, greater
Both Rural Power and Bio Power created new technologies for previ-
purchasing power stemming from entrepreneurial activity and in-
ously underserved populations. Rural Power's mechanization of the
creased productivity as a result of enhanced capabilities were likely to
spinning wheel, the rice huller and the oil extractor provided platform
initiate a virtuous cycle of change and, potentially, alter the national in-
technologies that enabled the provision of new services to village popu-
novation system.
lations. Similarly, the biomass gasification plants set up by Bio Power
was a platform for villagers to engage in entrepreneurial activity by
growing crops and processing feedstock for the power plant. Besides
5. Discussion and conclusion
the technology platform, innovations such as the introduction of the co-
operative organization and micro-enterprises accelerated the diffusion
The paper draws on NIS, complexity, ecosystem and social entrepre-
of entrepreneurship and provision of services to villagers by multiplying
neurship literatures to examine the following research question: How
the level of interactions in the community.
does social entrepreneurship impact the NIS6 at micro and macro levels
Similarly, IIT-Madras's rural incubator developed a kiosk that served
to enable the creation of an innovation ecosystem in renewable energy?
as a platform to provide additional services in areas such as education
The paper provides insights in response to this question by presenting a
and healthcare. For example, the kiosk allowed village children to get
framework for ecosystem creation. The framework is supported by case
access to tutorials in English and Mathematics and patients in villages
examples from the renewable energy sector in rural India. It suggests
to connect with doctors in urban areas. Other technology-based prod-
that developing a new innovation ecosystem requires building the in-
ucts such as a weather monitoring kit enabled farmers to plan their
frastructure for entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship at the
agricultural activities more effectively. Market development was stimu-
macro level and catalyzing the entry of social entrepreneurship organi-
lated as more villagers began using these services and new enterprises
zations at micro level. At the macro level, building the ecosystem in-
emerged in the village to cater to their needs.
volves: (1) creating new government institutions to focus on the
newly emerging ecosystem; (2) generating demand through new poli-
4.2.3. External linkages for additional resources cies and regulations; (3) providing institutional support for linkages to
The formation of social entrepreneurship organizations enhanced diffuse knowledge and capabilities. At the micro level, key ecosystem
interactions by creating new linkages within the targeted rural commu- mechanisms include facilitating: (1) entry of social entrepreneurs to
nities. Also, linkages with external partners brought new resources to serve the needs of rural populations; (2) new technology platforms to
the target population. For example, Bio Power's interactions with diffuse entrepreneurship skills and enhance community interactions;
NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were helpful in working and (3) linkages with external organizations to enable the acquisition
with villagers; interactions with a leading industry association helped of additional resources. Mechanisms at the national level lay the ground
to bridge the gap between industry and the suppliers. Bio Power also
brought expertise and funding from external sources. Its interactions 6
In this paper, the term innovation system is used to denote both the national innova-
with the government and international agencies like the World Bank tion system and its sub-systems including sectoral innovation systems and technological
and other international foundations helped to bring resources to the innovation systems.
G. Surie / Technological Forecasting & Social Change 121 (2017) 184–195 193

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Gita Surie is Professor of Strategy and Innovation in the Department of Management at the
Policy and Practice.
Robert B. Willumstad School of Business at Adelphi University. Dr. Surie holds a PhD in
van den Bergh, Jeroen, C.J.M., 2013. Environmental and climate innovation: Limitations,
Strategy and International Business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsyl-
policies and prices. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Chang. 80 (1), 11–23.
vania and an M.A. in Economics from Columbia University, NY, USA. She was awarded a
VanSandt, C.V., Sud, M., Marme, C., 2009. Enabling the original intent: catalysts for social
Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar fellowship grant to study renewable energy for rural pop-
entrepreneurship. J. Bus. Ethics 90, 419–428.
ulations in India in 2013–2014. She is currently studying issues related to sustainability in
Van Slyke, D.M., Newman, H.K., 2006. Venture philanthropy and social entrepreneurship
the global ecosystem and the creation of sustainable ecosystems serving rural and bottom
in community redevelopment. Nonprofit Manag. Leadersh. 16 (3), 345–368.
of the pyramid populations. She has published articles in international peer-reviewed
Virginia, Ross A., Wall, Diana H., 2001. Ecosystem function, principles of. In: Levin, Simon
journals, book chapters and cases in the areas of globalization, national innovation sys-
(Ed.)Encycolpedia of Biodiversity vol. 2. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 345–352.
tems, knowledge transfer and technological innovation as well as ethics and leadership.
Walsh, S.T., Kirchhoff, B.A., Newbert, S., 2002. Differentiating market strategies for disrup-
Her book, “Knowledge, organizational evolution and market creation: The globalization of In-
tive technologies. IEEE Trans. Eng. Manag. 49 (4), 341–351.
dian firms from steel to software” was published by Edward Elgar in 2008. She has worked
Walsh, Philip R., 2012. Innovation Nirvana or Innovation Wasteland? Identifying com-
for the United Nations, Control Data Corporation and The Economist Group and consulted
mercialization strategies for small and medium renewable energy enterprises.
with organizations like ETS and United Nations in the US and Tata Iron and Steel Company,
Technovation 32, 32–42.
MECON and the Excise Department of the Government of Bihar in India.
Westphal, Larry E., Kim, Linsu, Dahlman, Carl, 1985. Reflections on The Republic of Korea's
acquisition of technological capability. In: Rosenberg, Nathan, Frischtak, Claudio
(Eds.), International Technology Transfer. Praeger, New York.