The original “Sussex Manifesto” called for radical change in international debate and action about harnessing science and technology to development. It challenged the commonly accepted global division of labour in innovation that underlay most preceding discussion of this issue – conducted almost exclusively in terms of (i) undertaking research in advanced countries ‘for’ developing countries and (ii) transferring ‘to’ developing countries technologies available in advanced countries. Its central argument was about massively increasing the developing countries’ own S&T capabilities for creating and shaping their own knowledge and technologies. It also stressed that ‘systemic’ changes in S&T management, organization and policy as well as broader economic and political structures would be necessary in developing countries if any increase in such capabilities was to achieve a significant developmental impact; and supporting actions would be needed in the advanced countries.
This paper reviews these proposals and examines, as far as possible, the extent to which they have been realized in the subsequent forty years. It highlights continuing and new challenges now facing innovation policy, and indicates ways in which some of the original manifesto’s ideas may be extended to address today’s urgent problems. It then outlines additional considerations that would need to be addressed in considering the manifesto’s relevance to contemporary issues about innovation, sustainability and development.