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Louise Koch is continuing her work in the field between innovation, business, and development in Base of the Pyramid Innovation, where she is working on a research- and consultancy project about people centred innovation with Base of the Pyramid – that is, innovation to improve life and make business.

Please go to to keep up with this work.
Contact: Tel. +45 2296 3232 // e-mail:

Karen Elisabeth Høeg works in Danish Center for CSR in the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency, where she is working with CSR-driven innovation –
Contact: Tel. 4082 7891 // e-mail:


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Worldchanging in Copenhagen

In the end of October, Alex Steffen from was visiting Copenhagen to cruise around and meet interesting people with ideas and solutions for improving the state of the world. We announced ourselves to be his liaison officers for two days. The program included visiting Republikken, Index Award and finally La Oficina, where 50 people came to hear Alex speak and to engage in dialogue and networking.

And here is Ole’s beautiful visual capturing of the dialogue at the Worldchanging night at La Oficina. Ole does this all the time – tjeck out Biggerpicture.

Key topics and themes from the evening...

Key topics and themes from the evening...

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At the EPIC conference (Ethnographic Practice in Industry) in Copenhagen, Center for Sustainable Innovation was hosting an “Open House” event at our office space Republikken together with my former partner Rikke Ulk and her crew from, and Sofie Widding from People and Product.

The guests were around 80 EPIC participants from all over the world, having an experience of Danish Hygge with candle lights on the table, and not least presentations of what’s cooking with Rikke, Sofie, Karen and I. So this was actually the first official and international presentation of Center for Sustainable Innovation and our vision:

CfSI Vision

I also had the opportunity to present my research and consultancy project about People Centred Innovation with Base of the Pyramid, which I am at present deeply involved with since I am sitting in my hotel in Delhi writing this blog-post. It felt good to ‘go public’ with our vision, and not least to hear the interested questions and comments from the audience. My favorite one was: “It is so good that you are bringing idealism and visions back into the practice of anthropology. That has been missing a bit in designresearch and user studies for som years…” Thank you! I appreciate that.

Louise Koch

Let me give the last words to Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful
and committed citizens can change the world
– in fact, that’s all that ever has….

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EPIC – doing good or doing well?

Again, this post has been underway for some time, but now here..

This year we had the EPIC conference (Ethnographic Practice in Industry Conference) in Copenhagen with more than 300 participants from across the world sharing methods, ideas and insights about doing ethnograpy in all kinds of industrial and commercial settings. It was great to be part of this community of likeminded people and to actually meet the people who has been the drivers of this field in the US for two decades, and who have been the inspiration for a lot of what is going on in Denmark now in relation to ethnographic practice, user centred innovation and design research. Also great to be part of the Danish ‘tribe’ in userdriven innovation, who gathering for the exhibition at the Design School the day before. More than being an imagined community, this is a community of practice.

Unfortunately, I had several deadlines and proposals falling at the same time, so I couldn’t participate as much as I wanted to. But I did get to attend the session about “Doing good or Doing well” facilitated by Mikkel Brok-Christensen from Red Associates (together with Bo Wesley from Novo Nordisk, who unfortunately had to leave the minute before). Mikkel was deliberately raising the question whether business can make business of doing good – which is the underlying premise of the concept of Base of the Pyramid business.

cimg2609Mikkel told us about the project that they have been doing together with Novo, where 12 people went to India for 14 days to gain insight into the Indian health care system, and to explore the meaning and context of diabetes among the poor part of the population. The ambition was to be able to develop new products or business models that would help also poor people in India who suffer from diabetes.

Diabetes is one of the major health problems now and more to come in India. It is estimated that 41 mio people suffer from diabetes, with only 30 % being diagnosed and only 3 % receiving treatment. And here is actually an important comment to be made, because diabetes is not only a life style decease among the middle class who adopt western eating practices. It is also common amongst the less fortunate, for whom suger, oil and refined rice is a major part of the diet.

From this project the experience is, that doing user research in emerging markets or BoP markets is not only about identifying needs and aspirations of people, but also to understand the larger context and eco-system in order to develop adequate products, services and business models. This project also shows, that the main challenge can be the relation of the new BoP-business to the existing business. In this case, Novo chose not to continue with the project in India since it would be seen as a way of dumping prices rather than do good. Therefore Novo will now look at a market, when they are not already strongly present.

The conclusions from the following discussion about the role of ethnographic practice and user research in the BoP field were many, but definetely with an agreement that ethnographers do have something to contribute in this field. For me, it actually feels like a coming home… with this new field where most of the work is done in developing countries and where there is an explicit motivation for making the world a better place for the less fortunate, there is a deep resonance with a lot of the skills and values in anthropology and ethnography. Yes, there is a lot of ethical pitfalls in this field, but that is by no means a new situation for anthropologists to work with this.

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People Centred Innovation with Base of the Pyramid

Sitting in the restaurant in a fancy Delhi hotel enjoying the cosmopolitan life around me must be the best ambience for sparking my path as a blog poster. And actually this post was supposed to be published long time ago, but alash… time flies. So here we go.

Innovating for a better future

Innovating for a better future

I am very excited to embark on this new combined research and consultancy project about People Centred Innovation with Base of the Pyramid. For the next six months I will be exploring how we can create new products and business models to improve the life of the half of the world’s population who is getting by on less than 4 usd a day (in comparative purchasing power as if they were living in the US), and how we can put people first and include their needs and aspirations, and their knowledge and resources in this. The UN calls it Growing Inclusive Markets.

The research project is funded by Network for Research Based Userdriven Innovation – NfBI and I have the pleasure of being part of the team of very skilled people at the SPIRE – Research Center for Participatory Innovation – at University of Southern Denmark. My case in this project is based on my collaboration with Danish company Danisco, who provides bio-based solutions for food ingredients and other stuff. I am working as a consultant in the project team together with their innovation manager Flemming Vang Sparsø, and we are exploring how Danisco can develop products and business models that will improve the nutrition and income of people in the rural areas of India. (And this is by the way what brings me to India, but more about this a bit later).

The aims of the research project are:

1. To map the existing field of knowledge and methods for people centred innovation with BoP
2. To identify the key challenges and opportunities for companies in identifying and incorporating peoples needs and aspirations in innovation with BoP
3. To sketch a methodology for a people centred approach for innovation with Base of the Pyramid.

In the coming months I will keep you posted on the activities and insights during the project. Stay tuned…


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Konference om Socialt Entreprenørskab

Vi har hermed fornøjelsen af at uploade program for Center for Social Entreprenørskabs årskonference “Nye veje – nye muligheder, socialt entreprenørskab og social økonomi”, som finder sted den 5. november 2008, og som arrangeres i samarbejde med Center for Socialøkonomi.

Centret for Socialt Entreprenørskab har til formål at være et væksthus for læring og forskning i socialt entreprenørskab med særligt fokus på den frivillige sektor det civile samfunds betydning for integration af socialt udsatte grupper.



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Wauw – at skrive tilbud

Vi skal i gang med at udarbejde et projektforslag. Jeg kan ikke afsløre, hvem den potentielle kunde er, men det er et projekt, der skal gøre det meget lettere for afrikanere at skaffe sig vand. Med andre ord, så er det er ægte “Base of the Pyramid” projekt. Det vil sige at virksomheder i samarbejde med ngo’er og lokalbefolkningen i fattige lande sammen finder nye produkter eller services, der imødekommer de fattiges behov. Mange virksomheder er ved at få øjnene op for det potentielt set kæmpe marked, der er i f.eks. Afrika.

Det er super spændende at skrive tilbud til sådan en opgave. Noget der rammer lige lukt ned i vores interesser, nemlig innovation, antropologi og CSR. 

At skrive tilbud kan være en udfordring, for man skal forsøge at møde kundens ønsker og behov. Men en alternativ tilgang vi har prøvet, har været at tage udgangspunkt i vores egne ønsker og passioner for, hvordan vi selv vil arbejde. Det betyder, i hvert fald for mig, at kreativiteten kan udfoldes, og det skal blive spændende at høre kundens syn på vores ideer.

Så nu sætter jeg mig til tasterne og finder mere konkrete ord for vores vilde visioner!



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