Introduction to the TIPC programme

Following a successful pilot year, in which members gained many insights and learnings, a full TIPC programme has now kicked off, spanning 2018 to 2022. The core programme of work will develop tools, shared understanding and ideas, synthesis work, collective resources, communication and articulations of Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP).

TIPC’s ambitious five year programme incorporates a ground-breaking network of academics, governments and interested professionals committed to discovering significantly different ways to use STI to reach societal and environmental goals such as those reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus is on shaping science, technology and innovation strategies and systems that do not neglect, side-line or trade-off social and environmental consequences.

This core work is complemented by a series of bi-lateral projects for individual members aimed at supporting national level implementation of the tools and techniques developed at the core.


Core TIPC 5 year programme for members

There are four established elements to the core programme:

1. Experimentation

2. Evaluation and metrics

3. Capability building (Research and Policy)

4. Agenda development & synthesis (Research)

The rationale is that the TIPC core programme is co-created and participatory. The core elements interplay with specific projects (bilaterals) in each member and associate country. The nucleus of work on transformative innovation and change at the centre informs the country-context initiatives. In turn, these bilateral projects then feedback into the shared knowledge and experience at the centre. By interlinking the aims, knowledge and findings on STI in achieving, for example, the aims of the SDGs, the transformative STI movement strengthens and grows to enable and activate more rapid, fundamental change.

The co-creation principle is key to this work and all participants are positioned as active co-researchers and co-policy designers.

The core and bilateral projects are supported by programme management, networking, communications and engagement.


Development of New Evaluation Practices, Techniques and Metrics

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Jo Chataway

The main focus of evaluation work in TIPC will be on analysis and learning, and this is appropriate to the exploratory stage of research activities that TIPC supports and promotes.   TIPC is designed to explore ways in which research funding can be best deployed to achieve societal transformation and meet specific social, economic and environmental goals.  Whilst its activities are informed by a relatively well developed body of theory, the practice of funding transformational research is at an early stage.  This element of the programme will focus on developing concrete tools to analyse the contribution that such programmes make to transformative innovation and transitions.

An important element of the evaluation work will be the development of a theory of change (ToC) to underpin analysis of the way TIPC is working.  Later in the programme, we will use this as a learning framework to facilitate data collection from the experiments and training components on an annual basis, an analytical mid-term review exercise with members and a final workshop.  The ToC/logic model process will develop indicators that will enable analysis of contributions made by TIPC to transformative innovation and transitions.

Development of Capacity Building and Training Programme for Transformative Innovation for Researchers and Policymakers

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Ed Steinmueller and Sarah Schepers /

Capacity building, and training with policymakers and researchers will help ensure continuous local engagement in TIPC and sustainability beyond the initial five years. It will help members build a local constituency on Transformative Innovation Policy to help implement the ideas developed within TIPC. An annual one week training offer for members and potential members will be developed, which will help disseminate (and ultimately support the embedding of) the ideas and learnings around transformative innovation beyond the initial member representatives and research teams.  There will be a training alumni network to further spread the effects of the learning over time and across countries.

The training would be targeted at mid-career and higher level policy-makers and researchers.  Placing emphasis on practice based knowledge in combination with theoretical understanding, the various modules will incorporate TIPC case-material (from the pilot and from experiments and evaluation and bi-lateral work), and experiences. Participants will also be involved in other locally based TIPC activities (experiments, and evaluation) so that training is only one part of the capacity building effort.

The training will be defined by 3 broad areas of competence:

  • Analysing the world in transition, using a combination of innovation and transition theories (megatrends, nature of innovation process and of socio-technical system change, introduction to role of regimes and niches)
  • Experimenting with alternative options, options for strategic niche and transition management, including expectation (anticipation) management, networking and modes of learning
  • Governing transformative innovation processes, limitation and possibilities of current policies responses, introduction to frame 1-3; role of participation and important of notion of directionality, and monitoring and evaluation options.

Year one is focused on developing the programme, including the full set of modules and course materials and identifying participants. Delivery of the first training programme is expected to take place in early 2019.

Development of Tools for Policy Experimentation:

SPRU Academic Lead/s: Professor Johan Schot and Dr Paula Kivimaa /

The idea of policy experimentation has become more popular and various types of policy labs have proliferated globally. Experimenting refers to testing out ideas in the real world. The aim is to design policies or interventions that can encourage, and support people to make better choices (Williamson, 2015). Although transition experiments share the key methodological commitment to participatory work, they have different intentions: less focused on individual interventions with fast and attributable results, more process oriented, and aimed at transformative change through networking, learning, and expectation building.  Transition experiments in the policy context refer to innovative policy ideas, processes, mechanisms, instruments or ways of organising – usually undertaken on a limited scale and temporarily with the aim to stimulate learning and explore policies with positive contribution to transition (Kivimaa et al., 2017). The notion of policy intervention alone is therefore not appropriate. Instead, TIPC should perhaps refer to Policy Engagements, which is more relational and favours a continued exchange rather than a one-off intervention. It also places less emphasis on only designing individual instruments and more on building a portfolio of proactive experimental policy engagements for enabling socio-technical transitions.

During the five year programme TIPC will engage in two types of experimental policy engagements:

1) modulating existing transformative policy engagements (programmes);

2) rapid prototyping of new transformative policies or new policy engagements within existing programmes.

The modulation of existing policy engagements will be done through redesigning and applying the Transformative Innovation Learning History (TILH) methodology trialled in the pilot phase for ongoing policy activities. The rapid prototyping method will be applied for the design of new policy programmes. This method is more of a lab-type development where participants explore in a systematic way meanings, possible outcomes as well as practicalities (feasibility) of intended policy engagements. In particular, it can help to discover whether certain policies would challenge existing ways of doing, and thus, become transformative. It can also be used to trial several alternative policy options against each other. It uses visualisation techniques to elicit responses of participants to certain policy scripts and scenarios. It validates policy ideas and can add new perspectives, as well as bring a deeper understanding of options for transformative change and organisational capabilities required. As an additional input into the prototyping we will make use of multi-criteria mapping (MCM) methodology

Development of TIP Research Agenda and Research Network

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Johan Schot

TIPC aims to inspire and enable cutting edge research in transformative innovation. There is also a question of how locally based researchers/groups can participate, link up and network with TIPC. Working together with three established research networks EU SPRI, Globelics and Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN) will help to develop a research agenda for TIPC.  The expectation is that the research agenda can be used by members to develop calls for research proposals in their own national context and/or developing new research coalitions across borders, joining up SPRU with local research partners. 



Bilateral programme for members

Each member is constructing their context-specific project work that will look at testing and implementing TIP to meet their particular country requirements. An example of Colombia’s bilateral work shows how TIP and Frame 3 thinking is informing policy to create a ‘New Colombia’ by fulfilling the aims laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Colombia Project Overview:

Developing a roadmap of Transformative Innovation Policy to support delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals in Colombia

The Policy and Evaluation Unit of Colciencias has created a “Green Book” – a policy document that details how science and technology policy could support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Colombia. Building on two years of collaborative work with SPRU and the TIPC pilot year, this work involves proposing ways to build a Transformative Innovation Policy approach (Frame 3). This involves using inputs from existing work (training and capacity building, country report and case study) as well as conducting additional research activities and a workshop with key actors of the STI system in Colombia. It also incorporates inputs from Colciencias, including a national survey on prioritization of SDGs and a set of guiding principles for transformative innovation policy in the Colombian context.

This project feeds into and draw from both the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) five-year programme (core) and the bi-lateral work to be done under the Consortium on policy experimentation.

Co-created work between the Colciencias team and SPRU has helped develop new thinking around the role of TIP in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Associated Projects

Exploratory Phase Introduction

All potential new members of TIPC work on an exploratory project to determine prospects for a Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) approach in their specific country context. This includes the same steps as the pilot TIPC year: a review of STI policy development, and a case study using the Transformative Innovation Learning History (TILH). In some contexts an initial stage of training on transformative innovation has taken place. Examples of projects in associate TIPC partners are outlined.


Panama Project Overview:

SPRU and  Panama’s National Council of Science and Technology (SENACYT)  are working together to explore prospects for transformative innovation in Panama.

During this exploratory phase an initial workshop in Panama with a training element has been organised to support a mapping of current STI policy, determine needs and build early capacity around transformative innovation. This introduces the three frames and includes a review of the historical background of STI policy in Panama which addresses questions of directionality (the concept of multiple pathways and choices by which innovation develops over time). The early work considers where there might be examples of transformative innovation taking place and the related actors.  During this process, SPRU and SENACYT will identify possible case studies for deeper review. From a short list one will be selected to be studied using the Transformative Learning History Methodology.

China Project Overview:

SPRU and the  Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED)  are working together to explore prospects for Transformative Innovation Policy in China

The project is being led by CASTED in collaboration with researchers at SPRU. China’s STI policies have been considered  in relation the three frames and CASTED prepared  a paper on three frames of innovation policy in China which was discussed at a workshop involving Chinese academic and policymakers, and members of the SPRU research team.

A case study on ‘Historical development of solar and wind power in China: from 2000 to 2017’ using the Transformative Innovation Learning Histories methodology is being prepared by SPRU Doctoral Research Kejia Yang as an input into her PhD.

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