For addressing grand societal challenges such as climate change or biodiversity loss, the power of research and innovation is an important consideration. In this context, a new framework has emerged that invites us to re-think how we can maximise the impact of research and innovation for societal challenges: ‘Transformative Innovation Policy’ or TIP. This framework emphasises the role of co-creation, learning and reflexivity as part of research, technology development and innovation processes.
Our Evidence & Policy article, ‘Co-creation for Transformative Innovation Policy: an implementation case for projects structured as portfolio of knowledge services’, explores what co-creation means in practice for TIP, using the case of two innovation projects developed by the TIP consortium and EIT Climate-KIC, two international organisations seeking to promote innovation for global challenges. These projects were co-developed between experts on transformative innovation policy from the organisations previously mentioned, and scientific researchers and consultants grouped in two consortiums: one focused on sustainable mobility solutions (SuSMo) and the other focused on sustainable landscape management (SATURN). These projects have aimed at creating new knowledge that can be used by societal stakeholders in addressing specific sustainability problems and developing a ‘portfolio’ of knowledge services.
To conduct this analysis, we describe which functions co-creation for TIP needs to deliver and how. We do so by following the co-creation functions proposed by Yazejian et al (2019) . The process was structured around the development of a ‘transformative theory of change’ that can help projects understand their impact and steer their activities towards maximising it.
Our findings show that some of the key functions that co-creation provides in the context of TIP are
- Tailored support – recognise the needs of the stakeholders you are working with and tailor your approach, timeline and interventions to these. For example, SATURN and SuSMo had different starting points regarding to what extent they have thought about their impact and Theory of Change, and the process was conducted differently for each project.
- Co-design – recognise the key knowledge that stakeholders have and together with them, develop knowledge assets that they can take into their work.
- Facilitation and brokering – use your position to connect among stakeholders and facilitate dialogue, recognising their different perspectives, knowledge, and involvement in the project
- Co-learning – the process of co-creation is bi-directional, not just delivering knowledge or technical assistance. Be open to learn from stakeholders, revise your assumptions and rethink your approach. Acknowledge the value of the experiential knowledge that stakeholders are bringing in and you’ll enrich your own learning journey through the process. In our case, working with these two projects taught us about how our theoretical concepts needed to be adapted to fit real world cases.
These two cases, while small, illustrate how TIP principles can be applied in practice in research and innovation projects that seek to have societal impact.
This blog post is originally published on the Evidence & Policy Blog, ‘How to co-create in research and innovation for societal challenges‘ by Carla Alvial Palavicino and Cristian Matti. Republished with permissions.
Image credit: Transformative Theory of Change, adapted from Loorbach (2014) and Ghost et al (2020). Produced by the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) – MOTION project, in collaboration with SATURN.
Read the original research in Evidence & Policy:
Palavicino, C.A. Matti, C. and Brodnik, C. (2023). Co-creation for Transformative Innovation Policy: an implementation case for projects structured as portfolio of knowledge services. Evidence & Policy, DOI: 10.1332/174426421X16711051078462.