Developing and Enacting Transformative Innovation Policy: A Comparative Study


The contemporary world is confronted with a number of grand social and environmental challenges such as
social inequality and climate change. Traditional innovation policies, focused on the provision of R&D
funding, building innovation systems and promoting entrepreneurialism, are proving increasingly incapable
of addressing these challenges in a satisfactory manner. Hence in recent years there has been a turn
towards a different framing of innovation policy, placing emphasis on alternative futures and the coproduction of science, technology and society, the non-neutral nature of technology, transformative
potential of civil society, and attentiveness to the needs and wants of users and non-users alike. In this
paper we tease out the basic features of this emergent framing which we call transformative innovation
policy. Based on the experience of five countries – Colombia, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Sweden – we
outline various attempts to pursue transformative innovation policies, exploring associated challenges,
barriers and pitfalls.