The process of innovation seeks to convert ideas or inventions into new goods, services, methods or processes that have an added-value for people and that are replicable at an economical cost. Innovation has to be differentiated from improvement, though both terms are often used in parallel. Improvements aim at making small changes ra-pidly to an existing product, service or process whereas innovation imply taking massive leaps forward. If most innovations are improvements, improvements are not necessarily innovative.

Innovations can be divided into incremental innovations that are brought about by advances in science, technology or processes, mostly through on-the-job practice, and breakthrough innovations which are often disruptive and tend to emerge through research and development (R&D).

As first described by Gabriel Tarde’s diffusion or “S” curve, innovations have a life cycle with a start-up phase, a maturity point and an eventual decline when new investments in the process, product or service yield no significant return.

Innovation in the field of Global Health

Innovating in the field of global health could be defined as reaching out to more people, through more qualitative, inclusive, effective and affordable health services brought by science, technology or social leapfrogging. Much remains to be done to actually fulfil this ambition. But bringing technological, social, governance tools or financial innovations to scale and able to interact with each other can certainly play a role in it.

This paper will look at the various innovations fields playing a role in global health and at their potential for increasing impact to reach UHC by 2030. It will also review how the Global Fund envisages innovation and will propose a series of key advocacy messages to promote possible development paths.

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Photo © The Global Fund / John Rae