The InnoForESt project (running from 2017-2020) fosters networking initiatives in six case study regions to explore potentials for the development of transformative policy instruments and business models for the sustainable provision of forest ecosystem services. The potential to scale up regional networks that center on pioneer innovation models is investigated. This demands considering a range of complex environmental, social and technical interactions, the need to build on the multifunctionality of forests, and the economic opportunities along cascading value
chains. The network initiatives in case study regions function as protected spaces for niches innovation and are established in collaboration between so-called ‘scientific partners’ and ‘practice partners’. Together, they coordinate and manage the innovation networks.
Practice partners mobilise their regional stakeholder networks, science partners support the network activities by safeguarding a fair representation of stakeholders’ interests as well as stimulating knowledge integration. Each network initiative serves as means for knowledge exchange and learning and cross-fertilisation throughout the project. The challenges in accompanying the innovation efforts entail (a) dealing with conflicts between forces of inertia, on the one hand, and out-of-the-box thinkers, on the other hand, as well as (b) between case sensitive and interactional approaches of co-construction with stakeholders, scientifically distanced approaches of quasi-experimental character, and circles of long-known actors.