Working Papers

Developing and enacting Transformative Innovation Policy: a comparative study


The contemporary world is confronted with a number of grand social and environmental challenges such as social inequality and climate change. Traditional innovation policies, focused on the provision of R&D funding, building innovation systems and promoting entrepreneurialism, are proving increasingly incapable of addressing these challenges in a satisfactory manner. Hence in recent years there has been a turn towards a different framing of innovation policy, placing emphasis on alternative futures and the coproduction of science, technology and society, the non-neutral nature of technology, transformative potential of civil society, and attentiveness to the needs and wants of users and non-users alike. In this paper we tease out the basic features of this emergent framing which we call transformative innovation policy. Based on the experience of five countries – Columbia, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Sweden – we outline various attempts to pursue transformative innovation policies, exploring associated challenges, barriers and pitfalls.