4.1 Invention, design, innovation and (social) entrepreneurship
In the following activity, you will watch a video about a social enterprise and use this to review some of the themes you have studied in this course.
- Watch this video about a solar light promoted by the social venture ‘Liter of Light’ (n.b. The word ‘Liter’ in this organisation’s title is the US spelling of ‘litre’). The video lasts about four minutes.
- Consider how the video illustrates some of the themes discussed in this course, and in particular:
- a.the differences between the terms: discovery, invention, design and innovation - and how they are related to one another in practice
- b.the different types of entrepreneur, including any distinctive features of social entrepreneurs
- c.the connections between entrepreneurial activity and innovation.
Make your own notes below, responding to these questions and adding any other reflections on what you have discovered during the course.
The Liter of Light case illustrates many of the themes we have been discussing this short course on innovation and entrepreneruship. You can find out more about the invention of the solar light online by visiting the organisation’sor by conducting your own web search. There are also some interesting videos online, showing how to assemble a solar light, which highlight various design issues (e.g. how to make the roof watertight and how to provide light at night by extending the basic ‘bottle’ design).
The rapid spread of this invention to other countries, and enrolling local people to produce and distribute the lights, can be seen as representing types of technological innovation and social innovation. There is also evidence that the activity of social entrepreneurs such as the Liter of Light founder, Illac Diaz, has helped to drive these innovations into new areas.
Lastly, did you see any evidence of discovery in this story? It appears that in 2002 a Brazilian engineer named Alfred Moser came up with the idea of using a plastic bottle filled with water to refract sunlight and provide alternative lighting during the country’s frequent power failures. A few years later, Illac Diaz founded ‘MyShelter Foundation’ to provide affordable housing in the Philippines using recycled materials. The people at MyShelter Foundation were filling plastic water bottles with mud (to make walls) and with water (to make windows). Someone alerted Diaz to Moser’s closely-related idea. He saw the opportunity it presented and, in 2011, founded the social venture ‘Liter of Light’ to put it into practice.
We can also explore the links between different types of innovation and entrepreneurship through the different ways in which they create value. For example, an e-preneur might make a great deal of money by launching a new app – this would be an example of creating economic value. However, if this innovative service was designed to address a social issue (e.g. to raise awareness of a health issue such as diabetes, or to reduce bullying in schools), it could also create social value.