At the heart of TIPC is transformative research: Research informed by policy and policy informed by research. Transformative research is co-created with practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders so that interventions become informed by evidence, and developed through live implementation and experimentation. Evidence and knowledge is co-produced by many voices. This unlocks a wider policy perspective and enables reflection and learning which ultimately contributes to transformation in systems to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The three pillars of research, experimentation and learning form the foundation of TIPC.
TIPC delivers international conferences that bring together scholars and practitioners, and regularly publishes papers and articles in academic journals. Visit the TIP Resource Lab to find conference resources and Consortium research publications.
SYSTEMS THINKING IN TRANSFORMATIVE INNOVATION POLICY
Grounded in sustainability transitions research, Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) thinking contends that to solve the severe and complex social and environmental challenges of our time, we need a ‘systemic’ understanding of society. This entails considering the interconnectedness of various components and actors within an innovation ecosystem as well as the realisation that innovation does not happen in isolation.
Socio-technical systems are characterised by the interaction between people, technology, and the larger social context in which they operate. They involve technical components (like tools, machines, processes) but also the human aspect (such as people’s behaviours, consumption patterns, rules, values).
Examples of socio-technical-systems include the food, mobility, healthcare and energy system. To achieve a long-term transition towards sustainability, the interplay between technological infrastructures and human behaviours is essential. For instance, the long-term impact of alternative energy solutions can be influenced by investments, regulations, consumer demands and policy incentives but also external factors, such as floods or droughts, which might change peoples’ mindsets.
Developing a transformative theory of change for socio-technical systems is the crucial first step in the TIPC methodology, as it identifies potential synergies, unintended consequences and leverage points, which ultimately contributes to creating more effective and sustainable innovation strategies. Component 1 of the TIP Resource Lab provides guidance for adopting systemic thinking and tools and practical examples for developing transformative theories of change.
THE THREE FRAMES OF INNOVATION
Over the last decades two conceptual frameworks (Frame 1 and 2) have dominated the development of innovation policy-making which has been based on the 20th century supply-driven innovation model. This model takes the competition between nations and support for research and development (R&D) as the main entry point for policy making.
Both frames assume that economic growth is always positive. However, through this assumption, the many unintended consequences of science and technology are being ignored, for instance, development that has adversely impacted society and the environment, such as mass consumption, excessive waste production or the growing dependency on fossil fuels.
A third frame, Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP), is emerging – one that places social and environmental problems at the core. TIPC’s cornerstone research papers build and elaborate on this framework.
CORNERSTONE RESEARCH PAPERS
The following three research papers can be described as ‘cornerstone’: they form the theoretical background for Transformative Innovation Policy, and set out principles that underpin the core TIPC approach.
1. The first, by Johan Schot and Ed Steinmueller, introduces ‘Three Frames’ for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change.
2. The second, by Jordi Molas-Gallart, Alejandra Boni, Sandro Giachi and Johan Schot, outlines a formative approach to the evaluation of transformative innovation policies.
3. The third, by Bipashyee Ghosh, Paula Kivimaa, Matias Ramirez, Johan Schot and Jonas Torrens, proposes 12 transformative outcomes, which provide a framework for assessing and reorienting experimentation with transformative innovation policy.
Together, they provide the basis for the work programme that TIPC undergoes with its members and partners.
There is a growing global research community working on Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP). In addition to TIPC, this community includes members of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), the European Forum for Study of Policies for Research and Innovation (Eu-SPRI), the African Network for the Economics of Learning Innovation and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics), the Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems (Globelics) and many more.
TIPC collaborates with this global knowledge community on a shared research agenda for Transformative Innovation Policy, a core output of the 2019 TIP conference. The 2022 edition of the TIP conference focussed on building a sustainable knowledge infrastructure on Transformative Innovation Policy.