TIP Conference Report 2019: Towards a Global Research Agenda for Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP)

4-5th November 2019

Valencia, Spain

Welcome to the TIP Conference 2019 Report – a digital walk-through of the event and programme activities.

Reflection from TIPC Founder, Professor Johan Schot

“After its pilot phase, TIPC has been up and running for 2 years. During these years we have focused on articulating the Transformative Innovation Policy frame, and contextualizing it through interactions with the members of the Global South and the Global North in a symmetrical way. This happened in trainings, in bilateral arrangements, during the engagement week and at the conferences. It has led to a new narrative that has begun to shape policy formulation of various members (founding members as well as new ones, and associates) and other actors, among which the UNCTAD, the EU and the European Environmental Agency.

We have been building a network of constituencies with capabilities to implement and contextualize TIP, and also revisiting and adjusting it whenever necessary. Towards that end, we are creating a network that will link scholars from Eu-SPRI, STRN, Globelics and beyond.

Finally, we have been carving out a space for TIPC to contribute to implementation – this is what we call formative evaluation using transformative outcomes. We have defined the formative evaluation methodology as well as the transformative outcomes as summarized in our TIPC Policy Brief. I am very happy that next year we will begin to implement this methodology in real-time projects, working with our members and with EIT-Climate-KIC. This goes to the heart of TIPC: Co-creating academic basic research asking questions about how transformative change is happening and can be governed, and policy-making experimenting with new types of formative evaluation interventions to generate more transformative outcomes.

TIPC is a temporary cognitive and social space, that aims to provide a context for second order or deep learning between academics from many backgrounds and regions of the world as well as mixing them up with policy-makers from these regions. It is an experiment itself! During the Valencia conference, I saw clear signals that the experiment is happening – academics and policy makers are questioning their assumptions, exploring new ways of thinking and possible actions for research and policy-making.

We need to continue to get out of our silos. Academics and policymakers need to develop a broader agenda, and then start implementing it. Us researchers need to be more proactive and build connections between our projects and become a force.

We are where we want to be with TIPC, we are at the brink of implementing our thinking inside various organizations and contexts. We are also expanding and gaining new members. I am pleased with all the work done in various countries piloting TIPC and would welcome further interactions with Senegal, Ghana, Kenya and China.

I’m looking forward to continuing the exciting and excellent work that has been happening so far.”

Professor Johan Schot

Monday 4th November 2019
The welcome reception for the event was at the spectacular Mirador de Comedias, Carrer de les Comèdies, 7, 46003 València

The sessions opened with a semi-structured speed networking game, intended to introduce group members, explore expectations for working together and check in to the conference – leaving behind other duties and concerns. Each group was provided with a pack of cards, addressing a series of questions, such as motivations for attending the event, work responsibilities, collaborative styles, likes and dislikes and roles played within a team. Players were given a few minutes to take a card and discuss the question with other group members, before moving on to another group member – and question – when the bell rang.  

We observed how different groups interpreted this game and the social and cultural dynamics on display – some groups adopted an informal approach, circulating independently and mixing randomly with members; others were more formally facilitated, with players taking turns to circulate under the direction of the facilitator, or sharing responses one by one with the whole group. Participants finished the exercise by scribbling down anonymously their initial thoughts, reflections, hopes and fears for the event. These notes highlighted themes that ranged across hopes ‘to learn more about state-of-the-art innovation studies’  to have ‘challenging discussions that give new ideas’ to fears around ‘getting bogged down in theory’ and ‘networking with new people’ and ‘how to translate theory to practice’. 

Overall, the post conference survey indicated that 73% of respondents found this opening session a ‘very positive’ experience, 18% ‘somewhat positive’ and 9% neither positive or negative.

An inspiring talk focused on the EIT Climate KIC mission to catalyse systemic change through innovation; which looked at the drivers of their strategy, ‘Transformation, In Time’ and how this is being achieved through experimentation and collaboration. Read the interview conducted with Dr Dunlop for the TIP Conference. 

Dr Kirsten Dunlop – CEO, EIT Climate-KIC

Professor Johan Schot – TIPC Academic Director, UGlobe, University of Utrecht; Dr Kirsten Dunlop – CEO, EIT Climate-KIC

The welcome reception continued with canapés and drinks and there was the opportunity for more informal networking.

Tuesday 5th November 2019
The main part of the conference took place at Ingenio, Universitat Politècnica de València, Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación, Building 8E [Red Cube Hall], Camino de Vera, s/n, 46022 VALENCIA

Professor Jordi Molas Gallart, Director of CSIC- UPV Ingenio and Dr Bipashyee Ghosh shared an update on how the TIP global research agenda work is shaping up thus far with the inter-network dialogue participants – Eu-Spri, Globelics, STRN and TIPC. Each shared their vision for transformative change from their network’s perspectives and how this links to aspects of the emerging research agenda.

Different STI communities are mobilising innovation policy for addressing persistent socio-economic-environmental challenges. The main aim of the conference was to provide a platform for advancing the ongoing debates of different scholarly networks like Eu-SPRI, STRN, TIPC and Globelics/AfricaLics on transformative innovation. The conference brought together people and transdisciplinary research projects from different Global South and Global North contexts. The sessions in the conference were designed to facilitate maximum interaction, debate and mutual learning among participants towards co-creating new narratives around TIP.

In this session, as well as the overview given from Professor Molas Gallart and Dr Ghosh, participants affiliated to each of these four key networks briefly introduced their perspective on TIP – how they approach this concept and how relevant is understanding and enacting TIP in their own contexts. 


Prof. Jordi Molas Gallart, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) and Dr. Bipashyee Ghosh. SPRU 

This was a formal session, designed to facilitate informal interactions between participants. Each participant was requested to bring a poster describing their projects and results. More than 60 project posters were displayed in the hallways – which triggered rich discussions and engagement between the poster ‘host’ and ‘visitors’. The projects ranged from biodiversity approaches to development, using AI to understand the impact of R&D, open data against government inertia to new narratives of green growth, Transformation for achieving SDGs in Mexico, Policy Labs for mobility services – to name a few. The session resulted in either deep understanding of a few projects in depth by some participants or a quick overview of many projects by others, given an hour time limit. Owing to the virtual exhibition of the posters on the TIPC website, participants could start the conversation with “Oh, I was looking at this poster online, and I have a question…”, instead of seeing the poster for the first time in this session.

View the online exhibition and themes associated with TIP. 

A key session of the conference were these facilitated group discussions on specific themes that emerged out of the project proposals submitted for the conference. Participants in each group brought forward insights from their projects or policy work to contribute to the theme of the group. Following these inputs, the groups chose a topic or a range of issues to discuss in-depth following the lead of the facilitator. The dynamics in each group and the resulting discussions were different. The note-taker recorded these discussions in an online platform called Padlet. This platform is open for knowledge sharing across all groups. The key aim of this activity was to generate knowledge from different individual as well as STI community perspectives on multiple facets of transformative innovation policy. These insights will feed into the effort of creating a shared research agenda on TIP through finding synergies and contrasts between different perspectives on each theme related to TIP. A key outcome of this activity was that a vibrant community of learning and practice emerged, made up of members who are enthusiastic about carrying forward the discussion and contribute to the research and action for transformative change.

Participants from the sessions gave their reflections. A selection of these include:

The plenary was led by Mike Asquith from the European Environmental Agency (EEA). The core of the session was statements from the panel of representatives from various European agencies setting out how they are operationalizing transitions thinking and the challenges that this creates for assessing various initiatives.

For this session, there was a background paper produced. 

View the Twitter commentary and debate.

Policy for Global Transformation Panel 

Matthias Koller – Federal Environment Agency, Anastasios Kentarchos – European Commission, Sander Happaerts – European Commission, Mike Asquith – European Environmental Agency, Fred Stewart – Policy Studies Institute
Policy for Global Transformation Panel 
Mike Asquith – European Environmental Agency

This panel focused on a discussion around what can be considered as ‘cutting-edge research’ for transformative change from funders’ perspective. In this session, a panel of funders shared their experiences of funding proposals that offered to contribute to transformative innovation. They shared the kind of projects they anticipate to be emerging in the field of science, technology and innovation that can be considered transformative. The panelists in this session had extensive experience in funding projects, particularly in the Global South, therefore a greater insight into research support in specific contexts became clear.

Diana Velasco – Universidad de Ibagué, Colombia; Ellie Gilvin – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Imran Patel – South African National Research Foundation, Matthew Wallace – International Development Research Centre

Matthew Wallace – International Development Research Centre

View the Twitter commentary and debate.

After two back to back plenaries, participants had the opportunity for more interaction during this half an hour to speak to particular funders of  interest. This was also another opportunity to finalise on the outputs from the engagement activity morning session prior to sharing it in the closing session. 

This session brought together the supply (the research community) and demand (the funders), although supply and demand is also cross cutting since researchers are looking for funding and funders are demanding fit with strategic priorities, aligned with ambitions to address the Sustainable Development Goals. The first half of this session brought it all together and defined next steps for the research agenda work and the related research network.

In the beginning of this session, facilitators of each group presented short reflections and the key arguments put forward in their respective tables. These inputs were then matched with the funders’ experiences and anticipations in an open floor discussion. The goal was to find implications for a global research agenda on Transformative Innovation that bridges the supply and demand.

The last part of the session launched a network around transformative innovation research and funding to continue collaboration and experimentation by designing a global programme of research on TIP.