This editorial provides an overview of a special issue of the International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development (IJTLID), which contains papers first presented in a symposium organised in South Africa in 2010. It covers themes such as capacity building, inclusion, inequality, case studies and measurement within the field of innovation studies.

The author discusses major challenges facing the field, and their relevance to broader development agendas and policy. The article highlights the increasing acknowledgement of the important contribution that innovation can make in efforts to balance economic growth with better quality of life in developing countries. It outlines a research and advocacy agenda to strengthen the role and impact of innovation for development, and describes how the articles published as part of the issue tackle the issues included in this agenda. Through case-studies, the article also points to empirical evidence of innovation practices and outcomes in different sectors.