Introduction to the TIPC programme

Following a successful pilot year, in which members gained many insights and learnings, a full TIPC programme has now kicked off, spanning 2018 to 2022. The core programme of work will develop tools, shared understanding and ideas, synthesis work, collective resources, communication and articulations of Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP).

TIPC’s ambitious five year programme incorporates a ground-breaking network of academics, governments and interested professionals committed to discovering significantly different ways to use STI to reach societal and environmental goals such as those reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus is on shaping science, technology and innovation strategies and systems that do not neglect, side-line or trade-off social and environmental consequences.

This core work is complemented by a series of bi-lateral projects for individual members aimed at supporting national level implementation of the tools and techniques developed at the core.

Core TIPC 5 year programme for members

There are four established elements to the core programme:

1. Experimentation

2. Evaluation and metrics

3. Capability building (Research and Policy)

4. Agenda development & synthesis (Research)

The rationale is that the TIPC core programme is co-created and participatory. The core elements interplay with specific projects (bilaterals) in each member and associate country. The nucleus of work on transformative innovation and change at the centre informs the country-context initiatives. In turn, these bilateral projects then feedback into the shared knowledge and experience at the centre. By interlinking the aims, knowledge and findings on STI in achieving, for example, the aims of the SDGs, the transformative STI movement strengthens and grows to enable and activate more rapid, fundamental change.

The co-creation principle is key to this work and all participants are positioned as active co-researchers and co-policy designers.

The core and bilateral projects are supported by programme management, networking, communications and engagement.

Development of New Evaluation Practices, Techniques and Metrics

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Jo Chataway

The main focus of evaluation work in TIPC will be on analysis and learning, and this is appropriate to the exploratory stage of research activities that TIPC supports and promotes.   TIPC is designed to explore ways in which research funding can be best deployed to achieve societal transformation and meet specific social, economic and environmental goals.  Whilst its activities are informed by a relatively well developed body of theory, the practice of funding transformational research is at an early stage.  This element of the programme will focus on developing concrete tools to analyse the contribution that such programmes make to transformative innovation and transitions.

An important element of the evaluation work will be the development of a theory of change (ToC) to underpin analysis of the way TIPC is working.  Later in the programme, we will use this as a learning framework to facilitate data collection from the experiments and training components on an annual basis, an analytical mid-term review exercise with members and a final workshop.  The ToC/logic model process will develop indicators that will enable analysis of contributions made by TIPC to transformative innovation and transitions.

Development of Capacity Building and Training Programme for Transformative Innovation for Researchers and Policymakers

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Ed Steinmueller and Sarah Schepers /

Capacity building, and training with policymakers and researchers will help ensure continuous local engagement in TIPC and sustainability beyond the initial five years. It will help members build a local constituency on Transformative Innovation Policy to help implement the ideas developed within TIPC. An annual one week training offer for members and potential members will be developed, which will help disseminate (and ultimately support the embedding of) the ideas and learnings around transformative innovation beyond the initial member representatives and research teams.  There will be a training alumni network to further spread the effects of the learning over time and across countries.

The training would be targeted at mid-career and higher level policy-makers and researchers.  Placing emphasis on practice based knowledge in combination with theoretical understanding, the various modules will incorporate TIPC case-material (from the pilot and from experiments and evaluation and bi-lateral work), and experiences. Participants will also be involved in other locally based TIPC activities (experiments, and evaluation) so that training is only one part of the capacity building effort.

The training will be defined by 3 broad areas of competence:

  • Analysing the world in transition, using a combination of innovation and transition theories (megatrends, nature of innovation process and of socio-technical system change, introduction to role of regimes and niches)
  • Experimenting with alternative options, options for strategic niche and transition management, including expectation (anticipation) management, networking and modes of learning
  • Governing transformative innovation processes, limitation and possibilities of current policies responses, introduction to frame 1-3; role of participation and important of notion of directionality, and monitoring and evaluation options.

Year one is focused on developing the programme, including the full set of modules and course materials and identifying participants. Delivery of the first training programme is expected to take place in early 2019.

Development of Tools for Policy Experimentation:

SPRU Academic Lead/s: Professor Johan Schot and Dr Paula Kivimaa /

The idea of policy experimentation has become more popular and various types of policy labs have proliferated globally. Experimenting refers to testing out ideas in the real world. The aim is to design policies or interventions that can encourage, and support people to make better choices (Williamson, 2015). Although transition experiments share the key methodological commitment to participatory work, they have different intentions: less focused on individual interventions with fast and attributable results, more process oriented, and aimed at transformative change through networking, learning, and expectation building.  Transition experiments in the policy context refer to innovative policy ideas, processes, mechanisms, instruments or ways of organising – usually undertaken on a limited scale and temporarily with the aim to stimulate learning and explore policies with positive contribution to transition (Kivimaa et al., 2017). The notion of policy intervention alone is therefore not appropriate. Instead, TIPC should perhaps refer to Policy Engagements, which is more relational and favours a continued exchange rather than a one-off intervention. It also places less emphasis on only designing individual instruments and more on building a portfolio of proactive experimental policy engagements for enabling socio-technical transitions.

During the five year programme TIPC will engage in two types of experimental policy engagements:

1) modulating existing transformative policy engagements (programmes);

2) rapid prototyping of new transformative policies or new policy engagements within existing programmes.

The modulation of existing policy engagements will be done through redesigning and applying the Transformative Innovation Learning History (TILH) methodology trialled in the pilot phase for ongoing policy activities. The rapid prototyping method will be applied for the design of new policy programmes. This method is more of a lab-type development where participants explore in a systematic way meanings, possible outcomes as well as practicalities (feasibility) of intended policy engagements. In particular, it can help to discover whether certain policies would challenge existing ways of doing, and thus, become transformative. It can also be used to trial several alternative policy options against each other. It uses visualisation techniques to elicit responses of participants to certain policy scripts and scenarios. It validates policy ideas and can add new perspectives, as well as bring a deeper understanding of options for transformative change and organisational capabilities required. As an additional input into the prototyping we will make use of multi-criteria mapping (MCM) methodology

Development of TIP Research Agenda and Research Network

SPRU Academic Lead: Professor Johan Schot

TIPC aims to inspire and enable cutting edge research in transformative innovation. There is also a question of how locally based researchers/groups can participate, link up and network with TIPC. Working together with three established research networks EU SPRI, Globelics and Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN) will help to develop a research agenda for TIPC.  The expectation is that the research agenda can be used by members to develop calls for research proposals in their own national context and/or developing new research coalitions across borders, joining up SPRU with local research partners.

Bilateral programme for members

Each member is constructing their context-specific project work that will look at testing and implementing TIP to meet their particular country requirements. For more information on the work done in Mexico, visit CONACYT’s website on Transformative Innovation

Colombia Project Overview:

A Guide for Regional Transformative Innovation Policy in Colombia

In May of 2018 the Colombian department of science and technology, Colciencias, published their “Green Book” Libro Verde 2030 document.  This ground-breaking document sets out how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be met through a transformative science technology and innovation (STI) policy.  The LibroVerde was the result of three years of discussion, collaboration and coproduction between Colciencas, SPRU and TIPC.   It marks a radical departure from previous thought on innovation, and attempts to layout a roadmap that moves away from the Frame 2  ‘National System of Innovation’ and instead looks to build a Frame 3 innovation system. (For information on Frames 1, 2 and 3 of innovation see Johan Schot and Ed Steinmueller paper on which TIPC was established).

The “LibroVerde” is a global milestone; it is the first time a national government has taken steps towards creating an innovation system that is inclusive, open, experimental, and that attempts to directly solve societal challenges such as inequality and environmental degradation, rather than only concentrating on economic factors.  Now, the complex work of decentralised implementation has begun – translating this transformative theory into transformative action and thus transformative social change.  Implementing a Transformative STI Policy involves a radical change of the incumbent innovation system in Colombia.  It means changing the role of the policy maker from constructor to facilitator, thus allowing multiple pathways of innovation to emerge, accommodating regional differences and incorporating previously marginalised stakeholders.  An essential component for Colombia’s post-conflict resolution and reconstruction following its fifty-year civil war.

In order to achieve transformative social change, the first step is an exploration of these decentralised pathways of innovation at a local and grassroots level to establish context-specific projects.

In particular, TIPC and Colciencias will explore the social coalition of residents, academics, students and environmental activists that are defending the socio-environmental system of the Bogota wetlands. It is often social movements or grassroots organisations that are able to operate outside of the norm, challenge incumbent ideas, and provide alternatives.

In July, an event highlighting the regional programmes that will be taking place in this next stage takes place.  The document launched at the regional event outlines these aims and activities to create a new narrative and system of innovation.  

Read the Green Book in Spanish:








 Read the Green Book in English: 

Orientations for policy making on regional transformative innovation policies in Colombia

In June 2017, Colciencias invited regional councils of STI – CODECTIs and regional academics to join the effort to understand, formulate and implement a Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) to address social, economic and environmental challenges faced by Colombia and their regions. As a result, seven groups from Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Tolima, Bogotá, Medellin and Atlántico embarked on a journey to realise the meaning of Transformative Innovation Policy and discover existing initiatives with transformative potential within their territories. The initiatives account for differences in the way their spatial specificities shape how they emerge, unfold and create paths for transformative change.

The new role of CODECTIs, civil society’s participation in regional decision making around STI and the launch of the Green Book “Libro Verde 2030” as driver for STI policy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, constitute a critical juncture for regions to adopt a more inclusive, reflexive and contextual innovation policy. This policy orientation aims to facilitate the regional understanding of Transformative Innovation Policy, its potential and the underlying challenges of implementation. Seven cases of emerging regional initiatives provide lessons on how to approach, use and implement concepts and elements of transformative policy in various settings. They also provide a glimpse on how to evaluate transformative innovation initiatives.

The examples vary: from broader participation of regional actors in the process of policy making in Cali; to creativity labs in rural schools in Ibagué; to the scale-up of Vive Labs programme in Bogotá; to the introduction of transformative elements in the evaluation of regional policies in Medellín. Further, there is examination of the co-creation process for regional policies, and the role of the Higher Education Institutions in Transformative Innovation Policy in Antioquia, and also a look at the alterations in patterns of food production and consumption as alternative paths for socio-technical change in the food sector in Atlántico.

This guideline seeks to inspire regional policy makers, academics and civil society in alternatives approaches to regional policies and programmes to address complex problems using science, technology and innovation. This is the result of a year-work on the ground, led by SPRU and supported by Colciencias to enable regions to realise the opportunity to use their territories to enact transformation. Regional teams provide insights into policy directionality, bottom-up and experimental approaches to formulation, implementation and evaluation of regional transformative innovation policies.

Read the Spanish-version guideline document in full:

Read quotes from the document: 

Current status of regional policy and the regional challenge: “The emphasis of regional projects has been on developing regional initiatives to generate decentralised patterns of economic growth, inclusion and invest deliberately in addressing local specific problems” (pg. 15).

Discussing transitions in Valle del Cauca: “The third frame was favourably received by policy-makers and academics. Policy-makers acknowledge the need to integrate municipal STI councils to provide an inclusive element to policy and align it to the Sustainable Development Goals to regional STI policy. Universities identify the need to undertake projects with communities, so that they are not perceived only as objects of study” (pg. 34)

What we learnt in Tolima: “We reaffirm niches, in contrast to the regime, materialise solutions to the communities’ needs, without institutional intervention and support that guide the execution of a plan or rural policy”. (pg. 39)

Vivelabs in Bogota: “The big challenge Bogota faces is the appropriation of these spaces by communities outside Universities, so that communities recognise the transformative potential of ViveLabs. […] There is still the need to integrate further elements of transformative change to Vivelabs that allow users to appropriate and experiment with tools through the use, reuse, invention and reinvention of them from their own perspective. That is the only way to achieve the main goal”. (pg. 43)

Antioquia: “When we started this work, we asked ourselves what the role of Higher Education Institutions HEI could be to respond to social and environmental challenges to achieve a regional sustainable development. We believe that traditional competitiveness-driven innovation dynamics in which HEI are embedded into do not allow them to set social and environmental challenges as priorities”. (pg. 47)

Atlántico: landscape factors may introduce elements to challenge regional regimes. “In the local context, NGOs against fast food and fast life have mobilised social actors, civil society, an increasing number of consumers, chefs, medical doctors and social movements towards new  patterns of production and consumption aiming at protecting biodiversity, demanding fair-trade conditions for local producers and preserving local cooking traditions” (pg. 50). […]Despite the mobilisation of actors and the emergence of similar narratives, social action is not aligned yet and does not constitute a shared vision of local communities. This opens up an opportunity for regional policy”. (pg. 52)

Cauca: “[…] associative process of small producers […] can be considered transformative and have emerged as small networks and niches aiming at challenging the socio-technical regime, despite not having been at the centre of the STI policy. To start working in close collaboration with other grassroots initiatives (bottom-up) can generate tensions with dominant policies, but this is key to achieving transformation” (pg. 56)

Watch how Colombia is addressing the SDGs through regional impact:

Associated Projects

Exploratory Phase Introduction

All potential new members of TIPC work on an exploratory project to determine prospects for a Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) approach in their specific country context. This includes the same steps as the pilot TIPC year: a review of STI policy development, and a case study using the Transformative Innovation Learning History (TILH). In some contexts an initial stage of training on transformative innovation has taken place. Examples of projects in associate TIPC partners are outlined.

Panama Project Overview:

SPRU and  Panama’s National Council of Science and Technology (SENACYT)  are working together to explore prospects for transformative innovation in Panama.

During this exploratory phase an initial workshop in Panama with a training element has been organised to support a mapping of current STI policy, determine needs and build early capacity around transformative innovation. This introduces the three frames and includes a review of the historical background of STI policy in Panama which addresses questions of directionality (the concept of multiple pathways and choices by which innovation develops over time). The early work considers where there might be examples of transformative innovation taking place and the related actors.  During this process, SPRU and SENACYT will identify possible case studies for deeper review. From a short list one will be selected to be studied using the Transformative Learning History Methodology.

China Project Overview:

SPRU and the  Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED)  are working together to explore prospects for Transformative Innovation Policy in China

The project is being led by CASTED in collaboration with researchers at SPRU. China’s STI policies have been considered  in relation the three frames and CASTED prepared  a paper on three frames of innovation policy in China which was discussed at a workshop involving Chinese academic and policymakers, and members of the SPRU research team.

A case study on ‘Historical development of solar and wind power in China: from 2000 to 2017’ using the Transformative Innovation Learning Histories methodology is being prepared by SPRU Doctoral Research Kejia Yang as an input into her PhD.

TIP Africa Hub 

 In partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), TIPC has created an Africa Hub for Transformative Innovation Policy.   The Hub is comprised of the following associates and members:

  • The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation of Kenya – NACOSTI
  • The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of Ghana – CSIR-STEPRI
  • Cheikh Anta Diop University of Senegal – UCAD
  • The National Research Foundation of South Africa – NRF

The NRF, a founding member of TIPC, will act as a mentor to the other three associates in their exploratory phases. The initial work will be to map the STI policy development and ecosystem of the three countries using the TIP Frame 3 lens. This exercise, which results in a “five” page paper/report, sets the scene for any future work on TIP in each country. Following from this, each country will select a case-study that demonstrates transformative potential.

Across the exploratory phase, there will be 2 transnational workshops for all four countries, where insights and challenges will be shared with an aim of creating a regional understanding of TIP in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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