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International Partnership Transforming Innovation works to meet Sustainable Development Goals with new programme

A ground-breaking five year programme of transformative work, that places front and centre a new kind of thinking on science, technology and innovation (STI) to help reach the aims embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), kicks off this week. Coordinated from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) interlinks researchers, innovation agencies and policymakers from the Global North and Global South. They are united in their commitment to work together to change how STI interacts with the UN’s Agenda 2030 to support delivery of the SDGs.

 In recognition of the 17th SDG - Partnership for the Goals – TIPC officially commences its transformative programme on 17May 2018 to signify the creation of this key international strategic partnership.

Having completed a successful pilot year, the five year programme is focused on shaping science, technology and innovation (STI) strategies and systems that do not neglect, side-line or trade-off social and environmental consequences. Current approaches to STI policy, connected with industrial modernity, globalisation and economic growth as a sole measure of progress, have delivered advancement for some, while leaving the stark scar of inequality and environmental degradation across the planet and many of its people.   

 TIPC’s work shifts away from well-trodden paths, to new directions that revitalise and experiment with fresh assumptions and ideas. The partnership will work together to co-create a new understanding with tools and techniques to develop Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP). The central strands are: experimentation, evaluation and metrics, capacity building and training, and an academic research agenda. TIPC is not ‘business-as-usual’ or ‘science-as-usual’ or ‘development-as-usual’. It is business, policymaking, partnerships, directions and outcomes that are anything but the usual.

 The Consortium network currently comprises members from South Africa (NRF and DST), Colombia (Colciencias), Sweden (Vinnova), Finland (Business Finland), Mexico (CONACYT) and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at University of Sussex. There are associated projects in China, Norway, Brazil and Panama. Further countries are expected to join the group later in 2018. By interlinking the aims, knowledge and findings from various countries on STI to achieve the SDGs, the network of policymakers, researchers and practitioners working on transformative innovation strengthens and grows to enable and activate more rapid, fundamental change.

 Reflecting on their participation in TIPC, Imraan Patel, Deputy Director-General, Department of Science and Technology in South Africa said: “We in the final stages of refreshing the high-level policy framework that will guide investments and support for science, technology and innovation in South Africa. The refreshed White Paper is grounded on the need to accelerate inclusion and transformation in a rapidly changing world. This requires new thinking and policy experimentation. We look forward to shaping new thinking and analytical frameworks with national and international research and policy partners.”

 SPRU Director, Johan Schot said: "Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) is a radical, new step in the evolution of innovation policy. It means redirecting innovation towards transforming our world and delivering on the SDGs. I am delighted that following our successful pilot year, TIPC has now kicked off an exciting and promising core programme that interacts with our excellent range of members projects. SPRU is dedicated to the TIPC adventure to connect with our partners and to experiment with new approaches in a wide range of contexts. We look forward to reporting the outcomes and impact of this transformative agenda."

 TIPC Programme Director, Sarah Schepers said: “The strength of TIPC lies in the willingness of the members to experiment and work together to co-create and develop Transformative Innovation Policy. It is a truly international group of pioneers from the Global North and South. The potential for learning between countries over the next five years is immense.”

 The start of the transformative programme has an accompanying website with the release of four new blog series. The first examines a central TIPC strand of work, looking at the concept of ‘policy experimentation’ and what this means through a transformative lens. Others explore and debate Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) in relation to key themes within the concept of global progress – the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Economic Forum’s so-called 4th Industrial Revolution; the assumptions behind industrial strategies aimed at growing economies. Each is put through a TIP filter to question and consider the ideas that inform ‘business-as-usual’ approaches to flip and transform the thinking and central premise.  Each quarter a new Digital Digest will be released featuring a new edition in each of the blog series. To keep in touch, sign-up and follow TIPC on twitter at @TIPConsortium


By: Rebecca Kerr
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Last updated: Thursday, 17 May 2018