The Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) approach has garnered significant attention among policymakers and researchers considering the challenges of operationalising the sustainable development goals (SDGs). At the core of TIP lies the concept of experimentation. 

On March 1st, the Transformative Innovation Africa Hub (TIAH) hosted a “Transformative Innovation Policy Experimentation” workshop at the University of Johannesburg Business School (JBS) in South Africa. This one-day event provided a platform for in-depth exploration of policy experiments utilising the TIPC methods.

The workshop brought together a diverse cohort of participants including members of the TIPC and TIAH teams, alongside representatives from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. 

Together, they discussed aspects of policy experimentation including selection, design, implementation, evaluation and learning. In addition, the workshop covered the methods for developing a Theory of Change (ToC) in the TIPC approach, especially with respect to the use of Transformative Outcomes (TOs) and formative evaluation for helping to steer policy interventions and strategies that can help achieve systems change.

The workshop commenced with an insightful introduction by TIPC founder Johan Schot and the Director of the TIAH, Chux Daniels, presenting the aims of the workshop and emphasising the need for transformative science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in addressing the SDGs.

Subsequently, Alejandra Boni, deputy director of INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), delved into TIP and experimentation. Through examples of TIPC’s experimentation projects, Boni unpacked the five guiding principles of the Formative Evaluation approach, the 12 Transformative Outcomes (TOs) and the Theory of Change, offering a comprehensive understanding of the matter.

Throughout the day, discussions ensued around the expected challenges in implementing the TIP approach in African countries. 

As the afternoon unfolded, the TIAH team introduced a toolkit for the selection, design and implementation of policy experiments tailored to the unique needs of participating countries and agencies.

Malawi team led by Johan
Botswana team led by Sandra

Participants had the opportunity to take part in an activity whereby two groups worked on selecting possible experiments for 2 countries and then each group shared their discussions and general conclusions. 

Finally, next steps were discussed and participants explored avenues for cross-country collaboration, pooling resources and the role of TIPC and TIAH.

The workshop highlighted the following insights:

  • Change often originates from external influences
  • Connections are a vital component in fostering innovation 
  • The significance of understanding and embracing the inevitability of conflict and competition 
  • The importance of implementation within experimentation 
  • The need to acknowledge duplication as well as embrace failure as part of the process

This workshop marked the dawn of a new era in policy innovation – a testament to the unwavering commitment of participants to develop their understanding of transformative policy for sustainable development across Africa.