The Mexican National Council of Science and Technology, CONACYT, kicked off the New Year with a significant step towards stimulating and supporting innovation to help facilitate transformative change in the country. Entering a pilot phase of work, associated with the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), CONACYT’s journey started with a collaborative event on ‘Transformative Change and the Three Frames of Innovation Policy’ organized with the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. This signified the beginning of an important partnership between SPRU; CONACYT; and the British Council, via the Newton Fund. Mexico, through CONACYT and the British Council, expressed an interest in joining the full TIPC programme later in 2018.Kevin Mackenzie, the British Council’s Country Director in Mexico said: “Over the next ten years Mexico is expected to become one of the ten largest economies in the world and as such is a key strategic partner for the United Kingdom. The Newton Fund supports projects in Mexico that in the long term ensure shared prosperity between both nations. The British Council believes that innovation plays a fundamental role in the development process of countries such as Mexico. It is for this reason the British Council is promoting the “Transformative Innovation” project, which together with our Mexican partners will ensure the integration of innovation as an essential component to consolidate economic growth and social development.”
The initial event, held in Mexico City, between academics, policymakers and civil society participants began Mexico’s preparatory phase before full TIPC membership. Over three days, experts from SPRU delivered training on transformative innovation theory and practice, working together with Mexican participants to translate this into the local context. This related to specific societal challenges and included a focus on Inclusive Innovation and Grassroots Innovation. The training involved developing theoretical understanding of the three different framings of innovation (R&D; National Systems of Innovation; and Transformative Innovation), and then applying these ideas to specific policy initiatives in Mexico. Key concepts and tools from Sustainability Transitions theory including the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Strategic Niche Management (SNM) also featured to allow a deeper understanding of the nature of transformative change. Following this first stage of work, the SPRU research team are in the process of collaborating with a team of Mexican policymakers on a case study which will allow for a deeper review of Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) in Mexico and how it may be developed.
Johan Schot, Professor of Sustainability Transitions and the History of Technology, and SPRU Director, said: “My expectation is that new transformative innovation policies will be developed in the Global South as well as the Global North. I am confident that working with our partners in Mexico will be an exciting journey for all of us involved. I am looking forward to learning from and contributing to transformative initiatives in Mexico.”
The Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium, founded in 2016 by SPRU, alongside research funders and innovation agencies from Colombia, Finland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden, aims to address global challenges – for example, a central focus for TIPC is how nations might approach and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Methods and initiatives are being developed through joint research and knowledge production, to formulate fresh ways of framing and delivering innovation policy to promote long-term transformative change and innovation, across different sectors, societies and systems, to aid a transition towards sustainable global growth and development.