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Innovation is currently recognised as a vital driving force of economic change. Initiatives to promote innovative activities are quickly spurring in emerging economies as a means to facilitate economic growth. However, innovation as exclusively located in private commercial firms is also prone to create regional imbalances, inequality and social exclusion, which constitute major constrains to achieve the desirable long term objectives of sustainable and equitable development. This situation is becoming evident in emerging economies, such as South Africa, where positive rates of economic growth coexist with growing rates of poverty, hunger and exclusion of large segments of the population. In this regard, we understand the importance of revising the role of knowledge and innovation in shaping inclusive, equitable and sustainable development trajectories, with a larger focus on understanding the social dimensions of participation and its impact on improving the quality of life for all members of society.