The Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium

A coalition for sustainable change.

“TIPC is an exemplar of the University’s strategy to deliver ‘better research for a better world’.”

As the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) reaches the end of its first five-year programme, we look back on its aims, its achievements, and the researchers’ ambitions for the future.

TIPC, based in the Business School’s Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), is an international strategic partnership dedicated to promoting and supporting innovative policy approaches. The consortium’s action-oriented research and resources are stimulating radical new ways of providing energy, food, transport, finance and housing across the globe.

“TIPC’s central aim is to build an international network dedicated to transformative change as embodied in the SDGs,” explains the project’s PI, Dr Matias Ramirez, a Senior Lecturer in Management in the Business School. “Our five-year programme, launched in 2018, focused on shaping science, technology and innovation strategies and systems in a way that doesn’t neglect or sideline social and environmental consequences.”

The Centre’s approach is underpinned by research into third-generation innnovation policy – or transformative innovation policy (TIP) – which was pioneered at SPRU by TIPC founders Professor Johan Schot and Professor Ed Steinmueller.

TIPC methodology

TIPC researchers have designed a TIPC methodology – a multi-step learning journey that uses a reflexive, formative evaluation approach as a springboard to transformative outcomes. The methodology is being applied in a series of live policy experiments in TIPC member countries – enabling researchers to draw on lived experiences to create more equitable and resilient futures.

Experimentation with the TIPC approach in real-world situations is creating a rich evidence base of insights to accelerate green policy and socially just initiatives, as described below.

TIPC research in action

The BiodiverCities by 2030 report, co-authored by TIPC, together with the World Economic Forum, the Humboldt Institute and the Colombian Presidency, shows TIPC’s ground-breaking research in action. Using the TIP framework, the authors invite decision-makers to embrace and harness biodiversity to transform life in urban spaces – with the aim of halting biodiversity loss and mitigating the effects of climate change. The report highlights the crucial role of ecosystems in rainwater infiltration, local climate regulation, reduction of pollution, increasing recreation, and improving mental and physical health.

In South Africa, the TIPC methodology is being used by the Water Research Council and the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to help a water security and sanitation programme – the Living Catchments project – deliver transformative outcomes. Inspired by the learnings and insights of this project, other policy initiatives are starting to implement the TIP method. SANBI is now recommending the TIP methodology among its network as the preferred policy approach to ensure essential water provision for the country.

South Africa – whose Department for Science and Innovation was a founding member of TIPC – is now home to the thriving South African Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) Community of Practice, which includes a Research Chair and fellowships at the University of Johannesburg. Its aim is to develop context-specific TIP knowledge and practice to promote transformative, egalitarian systems.

In Europe, TIPC researchers have collaborated extensively with Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency – another TIPC founding member – to examine national food and preventative health systems. TIPC researchers worked closely with a dedicated policy team for more than two years to implement system mapping and transformative change methodology, evaluating which transformative objectives and outcomes had been reached and which further challenges remained.

As a result of this direct policy engagement, Vinnova launched an innovation funding call based on the six TIP principles to support projects working towards system transformation.

Launch of TIPC Resource Lab

In March 2023, TIPC launched its online Resource Lab: a set of structured tools, actions and learnings brought together in a digital web space. The Lab is built from an inventory of more than 400 articles, blogs, policy and research briefs, case studies, infographics, reports, recordings and tools, developed since 2016 across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. It comprises policy development tools and analytical instruments with accompanying training and learning guides, and activities for familiarisation with the method. Components include:

• understanding systems and change

• how to design and facilitate TIP experimentation for transformative system change

• how to use formative evaluation throughout a project to increase the potential for transformational shifts

• how to build TIP skills and capabilities

• how to build and use a local TIP knowledge infrastructure and community of practice

To bring the Resource Lab to the policymaking sphere, an international voluntary network of TIP coaches are working as educators and mobilisers in their own policy and project settings. In addition, TIPC is building a searchable one-stop shop for global transformative projects and initiatives that will be openly accessible to all.

Next steps for TIPC

Reflecting on the Consortium’s first five years, Dr Ramirez states: “TIPC is an exemplar of the University’s strategy to deliver ‘better research for a better world’. The next stage in our work is to further activate, develop and expand our groundbreaking research and actions to achieve even more impact and to help deliver a sustainable, just future.”

Who is TIPC?

A truly global network, TIPC’s members include researchers, policymakers and practitioners from universities, science, technology and innovation agencies, and third-sector organisations from Sweden, South Africa, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, China, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Panama, Norway, and Finland. Along with the University of Sussex, the coordinating institutions are the Centre for Global Challenges at Utrecht University, INGENIO – a research centre of the Spanish National Research Council, and the University of Valencia.

Three core collaboration hubs – the TIP Africa Hub, led by Dr Chux Daniels, the TIP Latin America Hub led by Dr Matias Ramirez, and the Nordic Hub – help to provide insights into the optimal practices for societal transformation.

The following staff from the University of Sussex Business School are involved in TIPC research: Dr Paloma Bernal Hernandez, Geraldine Bloomfield, Pip Bolton, Dr Rob Byrne, Dr Chux Daniels, Dr Bipashyee Ghosh, Christina Miariti, Dr Matias Ramirez, Chandra Singgih Pitoyo, Victoria Shaw and Prof Ed Steinmueller.

Twitter: @tipconsortium