Following the inaugural workshop of TIPC members in Sweden, the Consortium has released the shortlist of projects selected for the next phase of examination. This second stage of the pilot programme involves a retrospective analysis of a diverse number of projects from each member country. Using ‘Transformative Innovation Learning History’ as a method the TIPC teams will examine ‘Frame 3’ elements in each case study to expand knowledge on how to best approach TIP strategy, design and implementation. This will grow understanding to aid policymakers and other actors in directing a desirable transition to more equitable, stable and sustainable societies.

The Shortlist

  • TEKES, Finland: Smart, low-carbon mobility solutions for passenger transport.
    The project’s principal aim is to reduce carbon footprint by developing sustainable and smart mobility solutions. Over the past decade, Finland has had over 20 projects, both public and private, seeking to challenge and change the socio-technical system.  These initiatives can be viewed as niches for wider system transformation. 
  • Research Council of Norway: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) within the Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021) programme.
    This is a large-scale, long-term project with various actors from across the biotechnology sector. Its flagship, the ‘Centre for Digital Life Norway’ (DLN), was created to enhance collaboration between life sciences, informatics, mathematical sciences and engineering. This programme has progressed furthest in Norway in the adoption and development of RRI and has led to their ‘Framework for Responsible Innovation’. By examining this case-study, the country team can examine how RRI develops as part of a Transformative Innovation Policy ‘toolkit’.
  • Department for Science & Technology, SOUTH AFRICA: Cofimvaba’s Technology and Rural Education for Development (Tech4Red).
    In collaboration with the Education Ministry, this transformative digital initiative investigated a range of innovative technologies that could address education challenges in rural South African. It was developed by an ICT team from Meraka, who ran a scoping programme in 26 rural schools to see which ICT technologies were suitable. The developed programme is comprehensive, holistic, and child-centred while also incorporating families and wider communities.
  • Vinnova, Sweden: Challenge-driven Innovation initiatives (CDI).
    This case study illustrates one of the central principals of examination for TIP. How can we turn social and environmental challenges into opportunities for growth through the development of innovative solutions? By going straight to the heart of societal problems and seeking direct solutions to them, growth could be created by addressing challenges and directly improving public welfare. Not by (as the dominant innovation policy paradigm assumes) orientating to innovations that address primarily economic factors first, and that then, assume that growth from these will raise living standards. CDI focuses on four areas: 1) future healthcare; 2) sustainable attractive cities; 3) information society 3.0; 4) competitive industries. From a transitions perspective, these CDI initiatives mainly aim to facilitate niche development.
  • Colciencias, Department of Science, Technology & Innovation, Colombia: Inclusive Innovation in coffee sector
    The Colombian coffee industry has been an arena of learning and innovation for best part of 90 years. A remarkable feature of the Colombian coffee sector is that whilst it is an internationally competitive sector, the suppliers are overwhelmingly independent micro and small agricultural producers. Through a combination of technological innovation, institutional entrepreneurship and support of STI policy, the coffee sector has provided a viable and sustainable livelihood. Important social features such as sustainability, participation, quality of life, fair trade, R&D and technical assistance have featured. Further, a balance appears to have been maintained between human and natural resources. This case study will investigate the degree and manner in which frame 3 elements played a role in the process.  Also whether social and technological niches evolved to support transformational processes, and how the regime, region and sector institutions may have aligned priorities to protect and nurture the evolution of inclusive niches? How too were capabilities and other inclusive features “scaled up”? The ‘Transformative Innovation Learning History’ seeks to uncover these answers.

Questions around selection

After each country team’s inception visit, which established an overview of activities, a long-list of potential projects exhibiting elements of Transformative Innovation Policy was produced. In the Frame 3 approach, these six strands constitute steps towards achieving TIP. The criteria included:

  1. Directionality: Did it suppose non-neutrality or were a wide range of technological options considered and did it address which social and environmental issues they would provoke? Did the project and policy consider the non-neutrality of technology?
  2. Societal Goal: Did the initiative focus on grand societal challenges?
  3. System-level impact: Does the initiative address change on the level of socio-technical systems? Does it have wide impact?
  4. Learning and reflexivity: Does the project allow for ‘second order’ or ‘deep’ learning?
  5. Conflict vs Consensus: Were differences in opinion between stakeholders acknowledged and encouraged?
  6. Inclusiveness: Have civil society actors and/or end-users been included?

Ed Steinmueller, Professor of Information & Communication Technology Policy at SPRU, University of Sussex, and lead author, with Professor Johan Schot, of the position paper that supports TIPC’s formation – ‘Framing Innovation Policy for Transformative Change: Innovation Policy 3.0’, said:

“TIPC will be producing case studies of innovation programmes and projects that exemplify transformative innovation. These case studies will answer important questions concerning how people — both policymakers and innovation actors — establish new goals and practices for innovation.  The case studies will capture, in the words of participants, the origins, planning, and implementation of transformative innovation policies in diverse settings — from coffee production chains and educational reform to biotechnology and new materials uses. This next phase is critical for advancing Frame 3 thinking.”

Using these situated contexts as a starter, the central aim of TIPC is to look at the first instances of TIP to then develop a 5 year programme that, through experimentation and examination, articulates –  what TIP is; how to communicate it; how to design it; how to train and up-skill people for it; how to implement it; and finally, how to evaluate its affect.

The second stage of ‘Transformative Innovation Learning Histories’ in the pilot stage, will initially test whether the frame 3 concepts can apply. The cross-section of global case-studies will help discover whether there are emergent issues that can be identified in relation to TIP. This first-level learning will then be discussed at the next members’ workshop in Colombia in June and further at TIPC’s first conference, hosted in South Africa in September. The next cohort of membership begins in 2018, with the international consortium expected to grow.

The value of TIPC is in this process of blending theory with practical examples for the co-production of knowledge between policymakers and academics. This interface can create an approach, a theory, a method and a narrative on an innovation policy agenda that does transition and transform societies for welfare, growth and sustainability into the 21st century.