Flagship projects

Addressing Global Challenges through Innovation

A new role for Science, Technology and Innovation for transformation to address Global Challenges.

Innovation has shaped societies as we know them today. Technological development and rapid industrialization have improved the wellbeing of many people in the world, bringing wealth  and providing infrastructure to fulfill needs for food, energy and other socio-technical systems. However, this rapid development has also generated some of the biggest of our present challenges, exhausting our natural resources to the point of putting our own existence at risks, leading to growing inequality, mass migration and division across the world.

Can we address these challenges and at the same time improve the quality of life of millions of people around the world, as embodied in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals? In this flagship project, we argue that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)  is a key tool to address these challenges. STI has played a central role in development and driving change, and will continue to do so, but to address the SDGs we need to think differently about it. We should focus less on problems depending exclusively on cultural or social change (“social fixes”), or in technologies as the sole providers of solutions (“technology fixes”). Instead, we need to bring our attention to the process of alignment between the social and the technical, what we call socio-technical systems.

This flagship project is composed of two subprojects. The first one, called “Deep Transitions”, studies the underlying dynamics of socio-technical systems’ change in the last 250 years (1750-2000) using a mixed-methods approach. It is composed of three parts (i) an analysis of the dynamics that gave shape to the First Deep transition, (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048733318300593) including the role of crisis and conflict, and international organizations (ii) the development of scenarios for the Second Deep Transition and (iii) setting up a panel to deliberate about these scenarios. This project is supported by James Anderson and Baillie Gifford & Co., It executed in collaboration with the Science Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex.

The second project is the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), a practice-oriented consortium composed of researchers, policy makers and funding agencies across the world, which seeks to develop new ways in which to frame Science, Technology and Innovation policy to address global challenges as represented in the SDGs. The core task of this consortium is to develop, support and monitor experiments with this new frame for STI policy in each of the participant’s countries. In addition to this,  in the project we co-construct and test, together with practitioners and local actors,  concepts, tools and methodologies to implement transformative innovation approaches in different contexts. The project is conducted together with a network of international partners: Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), Ingenio (CSIC – UPV), and EIT Climate-KIC.

The team

  • This project is lead by Prof. Johan Schot;
  •  in collaboration with Susanne Keesman (project manager); 
  • Jenny Witte (communications manager);
  • Carla Alvial Palavicino (postdoctoral fellow);
  • and  Oscar Romero (PhD student TIPC).