R&D in Developing Nations

An interesting look into Microsoft’s R&D in India by Navi Radjou at the HarvardBusiness.org blog. It’s great to hear that Microsoft is employing “development economists” and “social anthropologists” to develop products designed to specifically address real problems affecting subsistence farmers and small businesses in developing nations. The article also has several good recommendations to other multinational corporations as to how to conduct R&D and deploy solutions in developing nations.

What is missing from the article though is whether the inventions that come out of this research are patented and/or are restricted to work only with Microsoft products. Or are the inventions that come out of this made available to local and other entrepreneurs or NGOs, so that the products developed as a result of the research are affordable enough and without crippling restrictions as to their use and distribution to make them useful to their intended audience?

I guess my fear is that IT multinationals will follow the footsteps of agribusiness multinationals and their genetically modified seeds and the horror stories we keep hearing about the experiences of farmers in developing nations who use these seeds.

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