SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Transformative Innovation Policy Africa Hub

Context

The Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) Africa Hub research project, led by Dr Chux Daniels, investigates ways to strengthen Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policies in order to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals, which the UN describes as “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” address global challenges, including those related to poverty, hunger, health and wellbeing and sustainability.

The TIP Africa Hub, funded by the International Development Research Centre, is based around the Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) approach, which focuses on the transformation of sociotechnical systems with a view to achieving more sustainable, inclusive and equitable societies. This approach was created by the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) which is co-ordinated by SPRU.

The TIP approach includes research on policy experimentation, directionality, new approaches for Science Technology and Innovation policy evaluation, deep learning, and capacity building; as well as developing local implementation projects and a global research and policy network. The approach aims to develop a new way of thinking about the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to guide countries along new alternative paths of sustainable, inclusive, and equitable development socioeconomic development.

Member Countries

The TIP Africa Hub involves teams of researchers and policymakers from three countries: Senegal, Ghana and Kenya, embarking on a 15-month exploratory TIP research project. TIPC founding member, South Africa’s National Research Foundation, having undergone the first year of TIPC work, will act as a mentor to the three countries.

The three countries were selected following an open call asking for expressions of interest from the 15 countries involved in the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) in Sub-Saharan Africa. The respective agencies chosen to lead the research are: Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal; the National Commission for Science Technology & Innovation (NACOSTI), Kenya; and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), Ghana. Dr Daniels is supported by a Research Assistant, Miss Blanche Ting, a final year Doctoral Researcher at SPRU. Miss Ting provides research and admin support to the countries.

Methodology

The first phase of the TIP Africa Hub’s work includes a mapping of participating countries’ Science Technology and Innovation policy environment based on the three central framings of the TIP approach – Research and Development (Frame 1), National Systems of Innovation (Frame 2) and Transformative Change (Frame 3).

In the second phase, following the mapping of the Science Technology and Innovation policy environment, each country will then choose a policy case study that helps to examine the transformative elements, draw out further findings and learnings, and better understand transformative innovation/change in the context of the country. The case study will facilitate knowledge coproduction and co-learning among the researchers and policymakers in each of the three countries.

The third component of the research methodology involves two transnational workshops for training and capacity building for the members of the TIP Africa Hub. The sessions provide an opportunity for reflection and mutual learning. The transnational workshops are open to interested researchers and policymakers from other countries involved in the SGCI in Sub-Saharan Africa. The first transnational workshop was held in South Africa in, 4-5 February 2019. The second workshop is scheduled to be held in Dakar, Senegal, in July 2019.

Impact and outreach

The expected impact of the TIP Africa Hub is to build and mobilise actors across countries and sectors that have both a deep understanding and ability to take the TIP approach forward.  For the participating countries, this would lead to strengthened capacity in their science, technology and innovation policies and policymaking that will in turn support their national socioeconomic and development targets while also contributing achieving global agendas such as the SDGs.