Online resources

This section provides an important grounding in TIP theory that will help prepare researchers, policy professionals and other participants for working together in learning spaces on the co-production of new knowledge and practice.

Bringing people together to discuss the process of change that we call Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) involves aligning world views and language to make meaningful conversation possible.

As alignment is a mutual process, the ideal would be an extended conversation. In place of this, we have produced a five-part user’s guide to key resources. We encourage you to construct the other half of that conversation by reading and viewing the preparatory materials and bringing your ideas, questions and reservations to the events.

The start of a shared learning journey

What follows is organised as a journey.  It begins with an attempt to state what is lacking in current approaches to innovation policy if we are serious about better meeting social needs.  This is followed by a multi-part answer to the question of how we might do this through TIP.

In part I, we introduce TIP and some of its key concepts. But to make TIP operational, several additional components are needed – transformative outcomes, a Theory of Change, experimental policy engagement and formative evaluation, addressed in parts II-V. Together these form the key components of TIP implementation.

Transformative outcomes as a template for change

In policy making the traditional approach is to define objectives, then plan a method for achieving the objectives, implement the plan and evaluate the result.  With experimental policy engagements (EPE), the key step in the approach is analysing the potential for transformative outcomes in the ‘defining objectives’ step.  Thus, it is useful to begin with the desired ‘ends’ – the outcomes — and work backwards to the other components of TIP.   

Transformative outcomes are provisional – we do not know how transformational an EPE will prove to be. Most likely, it will be a small step that may combine with other changes to make a greater impact.  It is therefore helpful to have a more generic ‘Theory of Change’ to provide guidance about the direction we are trying to go in, and then to have some means of assessing interventions in relation to transformation outcomes – this step is called ‘formative evaluation.’ 

Co-creating theory and practice

Reviewing the preceding material will provide an excellent foundation for continuing the exchange between scholars and practitioners on the nature and application of TIP.

The resources, which have been organised into five parts, provide a conceptual guide to TIP – TIP in theory.  However, it is TIP in practice where the most meaningful learning occurs – learning that provides a foundation for improving not only the theory, but also the world in which we live.

I look forward to meeting you during the next event, to gaining a deeper understanding of your experience of implementing TIP, and to continuing the conversation.

Ed Steinmueller
Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium
SPRU, University of Sussex

Part I: What is Transformative Innovation Policy?

We estimate this part will take around 3 hours to complete.

Learning aims

After reviewing Part I, you should understand the motive for Transformative Innovation Policy.

You should also be familiar with some key vocabulary and terms that we will use during regional and global learning events, including:

  • ‘Socio-technical system change’
  • ‘MLP (multi-level perspective)’
  • ‘Niche-regime interaction’
  • ‘Landscape change’
  • ‘Directionality’

A third frame for innovation policy (90 mins)

This paper, written by Ed Steinmueller and Johan Schot of the TIPC team, is an attempt to describe shortcomings in existing rationales and operating principles for innovation funding and governance. 

It outlines a different direction – a third frame – for thinking about how innovation can address social needs. 

A key message of this paper is that departing from existing approaches requires changes in the governance of the science and technology policy process.  Government funders of research are called upon to take a more active role in co-creating programmes and projects with stakeholders that aim to create systemic changes to address social needs.

The multi-level perspective as a model for transformative change (20 mins)

There are many ways to understand the nature of change.  The one that is central in much of the work on transitions to a more sustainable and equitable future is called the multi-level perspective, or MLP. 

In the MLP, our ways of meeting everyday social needs (accomplished in socio-technical systems like food, transport, and health) have three levels:

  • ‘Landscapes’ – constituted by government and society, in which existing and new rules, regulations and standards shape the practices of ‘regimes’
  • ‘Regimes’ – where the people reside (principally in companies), responsible for meeting these everyday needs
  • ‘Niches’ – where innovators with alternative or different approaches to a regime exist

These three short videos developed by the EIT Climate-KIC Transitions Hub show how we can generate ideas for change using the MLP. Each video is aimed at stimulating thinking in the early stage of planning experimentation or policy innovation. 

The levels are referred to in the videos as ‘macro,’ ‘meso’ and ‘micro’ – terms usually employed in economics.  The videos illustrate a key point: innovation involves a ‘breakthrough’ from the niche (micro) level that disrupts, forces adaption or replaces the existing regime (meso-level).  What is missing in these videos is a visualisation of how the landscape (macro-level) might change in ways that favour certain niches developing and overtaking existing practices.

Trajectories of change

Flourishing multi-level

Context map

TIP motivation and implementation (70 mins)

These six videos break down a lecture by Ed Steinmueller about TIP, recorded at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) in the UK.  It can be viewed without breaks here.

In the session, Ed addresses the motivation for TIP (the reasons for developing the third frame) and the next steps towards implementing TIP. While there are some parts of the lecture Ed would revise now, the videos highlight the essence of the thinking around TIP that led to the establishment of the consortium.

Part 4 may be of particular interest, on how policy might address the world that we live in using Frame Three thinking, and the need for experimentation to develop new and different understandings of the future.


Part 1: The world we are in

Part 2: Innovation Policy
– the last 75 years

Part 3: Uncertainty and directionality

Part 4: TIP Foundations 

Part 5: TIPC

Complementary tools (35 mins)

The following webinar presentations introduce concepts and vocabulary that are helpful in the analysis of systems meant to facilitate knowledge sharing and learning. 

A key feature of Frame 2 systems thinking (which TIP draws upon) is the possibility of system failure.  These webinars provide a foundation for thinking about how system failures can arise and what interventions might be used to overcome these failures. 

Network analysis

This webinar introduces the concepts and vocabulary of network analysis – a method of mapping the
relationship between actors, projects, and domains of activity.  While listening to this presentation, it is useful to think about how the ideas presented could be used to diagnosis network problems or failures and what mitigating actions might be taken.

Knowledge management

This webinar is also based upon mapping as a technique for examining relationships.  It makes reference to ‘knowledge management’ tools, which involve a network analysis of actors, processes and programmes.  A large number of cases are identified.  As transitions between slides are often abrupt, it is useful to use the pause key to examine individual slides more closely.  A practical series of analysis steps are introduced near the end of the presentation (at 17:11).

Network analysis

Knowledge Management

Part II: Transformative outcomes

We estimate this part will take around 2 hours to complete.

Learning aims

After reviewing Part II, you should be familiar with:

  • The twelve transformative outcomes and how these relate to the multi-level perspective
  • The potential role that policy can play in contributing towards the outcomes

It may be helpful for you to think about how each of these twelve elements could be related to a specific process of change that is sought in your context.

Twelve transformative outcomes (15 mins)

In TIP, there are two levels to a ‘Theory of Change’ setting out how and why a desired change is expected in a particular context:

  • On a more abstract level, change is directed at existing dominant practices that are implicated in problems of sustainability and equity. On this level, it is possible to create a typology of ‘transformative outcomes’ that can serve as a template for a more specific, context-dependent Theory of Change. 
  • A context-dependent Theory of Change involves analysis of opportunities and barriers in a specific context, including issues of shared belief, cultural norms, and social imagination.

This video, produced by Jenny Witte and other members of the TIPC team, introduces the template of transformative outcomes, which evolved from the earlier work described in Part 4 of the lecture above.

Jenny describes the following three broad processes of transformation addressed by the multi-level perspective (MLP):

  • Building and nurturing niches
  • Expanding and mainstreaming niches
  • Opening up and unlocking regimes

For each of these, there are four transformative outcomes, a total of twelve.

Using transformative outcomes to unlock change (90 minutes)

This working paper, co-authored by several members of the TIPC team, reviews the transformative outcomes and provides two case studies demonstrating the application of the template.

The paper explains how transformative outcomes can guide the activities of STI agencies in evaluating and reformulating current or new projects, programmes and policies.

On pp. 21-24, a convenient summary table highlights how policy experimentation can contribute to achieving transformative outcomes.

Part III: A Theory of Change

We estimate this part will take around 1 hour to complete.

Learning aims

After reviewing Part III, you should be familiar with:

  • How a Theory of Change can be used to evaluate Transformative Innovation Policies
  • The proposed steps to developing a contextual Theory of Change

Constructing a Theory of Change (60 mins)

We are still working towards a more accessible and practical guide to constructing a ‘Theory of Change’ at the context level. 

Pp. 11-16 of this working paper, co-authored by several members of the TIPC team, briefly describes our aims and intent.

It includes a brief background to the origins of the term ‘Theory of Change’, followed by a table on p. 13 that duplicates and simplifies the twelve transformative outcomes.

Pp. 14-16 provide an outline of how to construct a contextual Theory of Change.

Part IV: Experimental policy engagement

We estimate this part will take around 2 hours to complete.

The remaining two components of TIP practice – experimental policy engagement and formative evaluation – can be studied in any order.  Here we suggest having a look at experimentation before evaluation.

Learning aims

After reviewing Part IV, you should be familiar with:

  • Details of the five modes of Experimental Policy Engagement (EPE) identified by TIPC
  • Examples of interesting experimentation taking place in TIPC member countries
  • How transformative outcomes can be used to help formulate or develop further EPEs

Introducing policy experimentation (120 mins)

This is a policy brief on experimental policy engagements (EPEs). It describes the following five modes in which experimentation can occur:

  • Policy design experiments
  • Instrument and process experiments
  • Experimental spaces
  • Supporting, connecting and evaluating societal experiments
  • Governance culture experiments

It also provides examples of experimentation in several of the TIPC member countries.  TIP aims to be relevant to entirely new initiatives (ones explicitly aimed at transformation) and to existing initiatives that can be ‘stretched’ to become more transformative

You will see that transformative outcomes are again repeated. Here, they guide us towards questions about the transformational nature of an EPE.

Part V: Formative evaluation

We estimate this part will take around 1 hour to complete.

Learning aims

After reviewing Part V, you should be familiar with:

  • Features of a formative approach to evaluation
  • How TIP principles can help to inform the evaluation of policy interventions
  • The potential for a generic Theory of Change, aligned to the multi-level perspective (MLP), to be used as a frame to aid evaluation


Formative evaluation of Transformative Innovation Policy (60 mins)

This working paper provides a detailed rationale for and explanation of formative evaluation.

It uses the example of the Swedish Challenge-Driven Innovation programme to explore the value added by this approach.

It is also a good summary of all the elements of TIP practice, as it touches on each of the components (we have already reviewed an extract relating to Theory of Change in Part III).

Before reading the working paper, you may wish to revisit the vocabulary and terms introduced in Part I and earlier resources. 

If you are comfortable with the vocabulary, the working paper – despite being academic in style – is more accessible.

If you are pressed for time, a shorter policy brief is available as an alternative.