Co-creation for Transformative Innovation Policy: an implementation case for projects structured as portfolio of knowledge services

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Carla Alvial Palavicino Utrecht University, The Netherlandsand EIT Climate KIC

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Cristian Matti EIT Climate KIC

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Christoph Brodnik Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

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Background:

Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) encompasses a variety of policy frameworks that seek to use the potential of science, technology, and innovation to address societal challenges. To do so, it relies on inclusive co-creation processes for the design, implementation and evaluation programmes and policies that can drive systemic transformation towards sustainability.

Aims and objectives:

To date there are few empirical studies available on how this co-creation approach can be implemented at the level of programmes and projects working on transformative innovation, and what specific competences, processes and functions are required for the successful implementation of this framework. This paper seeks to provide empirical evidence on how to implement TIP at the project level.

Key conclusions:

This paper shows the importance of adaptability and modularity of processes that are used to translate the TIP framework to a specific context, allowing and encouraging processes of adaptation by project partners and other stakeholders. Secondly, we highlight how knowledge services can be used to translate and negotiate meaning for complex frameworks, resulting in the production of new knowledge that is not only contextually relevant, but that feeds into a larger pool of evidence of how theories apply to real-world cases. Thirdly, it highlights the importance of building teams with skills such as facilitation, brokering, communication, translation and embedding of science-based concepts and frameworks, and the ability to lead processes of co-design that ensure coherence across different interventions while being adaptable to varied project contexts.

Abstract

Background:

Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) encompasses a variety of policy frameworks that seek to use the potential of science, technology, and innovation to address societal challenges. To do so, it relies on inclusive co-creation processes for the design, implementation and evaluation programmes and policies that can drive systemic transformation towards sustainability.

Aims and objectives:

To date there are few empirical studies available on how this co-creation approach can be implemented at the level of programmes and projects working on transformative innovation, and what specific competences, processes and functions are required for the successful implementation of this framework. This paper seeks to provide empirical evidence on how to implement TIP at the project level.

Key conclusions:

This paper shows the importance of adaptability and modularity of processes that are used to translate the TIP framework to a specific context, allowing and encouraging processes of adaptation by project partners and other stakeholders. Secondly, we highlight how knowledge services can be used to translate and negotiate meaning for complex frameworks, resulting in the production of new knowledge that is not only contextually relevant, but that feeds into a larger pool of evidence of how theories apply to real-world cases. Thirdly, it highlights the importance of building teams with skills such as facilitation, brokering, communication, translation and embedding of science-based concepts and frameworks, and the ability to lead processes of co-design that ensure coherence across different interventions while being adaptable to varied project contexts.

The challenge of implementing Transformative Innovation Policy

In the last decade, new policy frameworks have emerged that deepen the role that technology and innovation plays in addressing societal and global challenges (Diercks et al, 2019). Traditionally, Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) policies, which group government interventions in the economy aimed at supporting scientific discovery and technological solutions (Lundvall and Borrás, 2005), have framed the role of science and innovation in relation to curiosity-driven research and/or drivers of economic growth, disconnected from complex societal challenges.

In contrast, the recent framework of Transformative Innovation Policies (TIP) seeks to transform the way in which scientific knowledge interacts with societal needs, from a linear model in which academia supplies and society demands and selects appropriate knowledge, to a more interactive process of co-creation (Schot and Steinmueller, 2018). Transformative Innovation Policies are being explored and implemented by many agencies around the world, responding to different societal challenges. Examples are the recently launched EU missions (European Commission, 2022) in areas such as climate and health, the work of the Swedish innovation agency VINNOVA in food (VINNOVA, 2022), or the work of the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa in water and sanitation (Boni et al, 2021).

Transformation can be understood as ‘deep and sustained, nonlinear systemic change, generally involving cultural, political, technological, economic, social and/or environmental processes’ (Linnér and Wibeck, 2020). TIP is underpinned by the assumption that to address global challenges such as climate change or inequality, it is not enough to seek incremental change; rather, the systems that produce these problems need to be radically transformed. These changes in complex systems need to happen through an open and participatory process of experimentation that allows for learning and reflexivity, which translates into new knowledge and practices (Weber and Rohracher, 2012). Against this background, TIP emphasises the role of co-creation, learning and transdisciplinarity as enablers of systemic transformations (Daimer et al, 2012). Interventions that effectively tackle transformation create a shared understanding for all those involved and impacted by the process, starting from the design phase, and leading into an effective implementation (Matti et al, 2022).

Understanding co-creation is key to operationalising TIP. While there are many initiatives working with this framework, there is much to learn regarding the implementation of TIP at the programme and project level. Particularly for many policymakers, it is still a question of how to incorporate this new framework into their own practice, and in fact many of these initiatives can start with ambitious expectations that are not achieved in the implementation phase (Rabadjieva and Terstriep, 2021).

This practice paper seeks to contribute to this discussion, by illustrating how TIPs are implemented and operationalised in two projects, which use scientific knowledge to advance systems transformation in the areas of mobility and landscape management, as explained below.

Transformative Innovation in practice

Two organisations that have championed the TIP approach are EIT Climate KIC (https://www.climate-kic.org/), an EU innovation agency that focuses on systems transformation as a means to address the climate emergency; and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) (https://www.tipconsortium.net/), a partnership of STI agencies from around the world that advance the TIP concept and implementation. This paper results from a partnership between these two organisations, aimed at further exploring methods for the implementation of TIP at project and programme level.

EIT Climate KIC has innovated in using a portfolio approach for systems transformation, shifting the focus from single point solutions to the systemic effects that different actions have when working together as a whole (Lock and Wagner, 2016). This portfolio approach allows it to operate as an ‘orchestrator”’among multiple initiatives, connecting ‘“demand” and “supply” in catalysing transformational systemic change, one that brings together public and private actors – businesses and states, individuals and cities’ (EIT Climate KIC, 2018). Innovation portfolio management is a dynamic sense-making and decision-making process which involves regular reviews of ongoing innovation activities and ensures coherent resource distribution between activities (OPSI OECD, 2021). This approach is particularly suited to tackling complex societal challenges, which require combined interventions at various levels of a system.

The portfolio approach has been implemented for systems as a process of co-creation with stakeholders that are directly involved in a challenge, drawing from practical knowledge and experience, as well as scientific understanding (UNDP, 2022). In this context, co-creation is defined as the active involvement of stakeholders in all stages of policy process, including co-design, implementation and evaluation resulting in service models, approaches and practises that are contextualised and tailored to specific settings (Vargo and Lusch, 2016; Metz et al, 2019). Specifically for TIP, co-creation delivers actionable knowledge that combines science and practice, through concrete outputs that can be used to communicate and engage, make decisions regarding the direction of certain interventions, and facilitate learning (Matti et al, 2022).

Co-creation encompasses a variety of activities and functions. To understand better how these different elements contribute to the intended outcomes, we use the approach of Yazejian et al (2019), who proposes a set of essential functions of co-creation, including co-learning, facilitation, addressing power differentials, co-design of tools, brokering, and tailored support (Table 1). The specific weight that each of these functions has in a co-creation process will depend on its stage (design, implementation, evaluation) and the specific needs and context of the actors involved. This functional approach can be particularly useful when designing methodologies for TIP through a co-creation lens, addressing how each step of the process and corresponding outputs contribute to a deepened understanding of systems transformation.

Table 1:

Functions of the co-creation approach for knowledge services and technical assistance, adapted from Yazejian et al (2019)

[f1] Co-learn: work collaboratively with local stakeholders to learn how actionable knowledge can be effectively used in the local context.
[f2] Brokering: enabling knowledge exchange and sharing of ideas among stakeholders to increase the understanding of diverse perspectives.
[f3] Addressing power differentials: address the power imbalances between different groups and stakeholders in the system, by supporting communication, mutual consultation and identifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.
[f4] Co-design: design tools, resources and models through an iterative process based on consensus building.
[f5] Facilitate: enabling processes of participatory problem solving that lead to improved and supportive social relationships, enabling a process of ‘mutual consultation’ among stakeholders to ensure different forms of knowledge are included in the process, encouraging stakeholders to share their perspectives, and accept the legitimacy of each other’s goals while creating a sense of shared responsibility of the project.
[f6] Tailor Support: the decision on frequency, duration and intensity of the co-creation process will depend on the context, needs and goals of each group and stakeholder. This should be based on mutual decision making and not on assumptions.

Transformative Theory of Change

A key feature of TIP is to enable interventions that are adaptable, that can learn and engage a wide range of stakeholders in an iterative process of experimentation. In that context, Theories of Change (TOC) are a tool to create a shared understanding of interventions and areas for learning. The learning-oriented TOC approach has gained popularity as a method for the development and implementation of sustainability and systems transformation projects. A TOC can be understood as a tentative accounting of the activities and results of an intervention, focusing on the process of change as well as its expected outcomes, created for and subjected to testing as part of the project cycle (Brown, 2020). This paper illustrates how learning-oriented TOC can be used effectively to strengthen some aspects of the portfolio approach and what specific functions co-creation fulfils in this process.

To do so, this paper describes and reflects on co-creation as a method for TIP, as used in the context of a two-year collaboration between EIT Climate KIC and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (Figure 1). The project focused on co-creation and testing of what we call a ‘Transformative’ Theory of Change, bringing together academic researchers in STI policy from three universities in Europe, with three EIT Climate KIC projects: ACT on NBS, a project focused on introducing Nature Based Solutions to cities in Europe, SATURN, a project aimed at promoting holistic urban and rural landscape planning (Nikologianni et al, 2020), and SuSMo, a project that sought to facilitate the sustainable update of shared mobility in cities. These projects are led by consultants, researchers and policymakers, and are part of a common programme called Innovation Ecosystems, characterised by a European and multi-stakeholder focus and structured around the design and implementation of a portfolio of interventions that is made actionable for the needs of users, what we call ‘knowledge services’.

Innovation portfolios, co-creation process and Transformative Innovation Policy as the three key framing concepts for the paper
Figure 1:

Conceptual representation of the different elements discussed in this paper. These include: Innovation Portfolios as a specific way of organising projects and programmes in the context of TIP; Co-creation as a process with specific functions; and TIP as a framework and goal to be delivered by the project. These elements translate into specific outcomes (actionable knowledge) such as narratives, visual representations and tools and indicators

Citation: Evidence & Policy 19, 2; 10.1332/174426421X16711051078462

The Transformative Theory of Change facilitates the understanding of how an intervention is contributing to systems transformation through the instrumental use of an additional element to the TOC called ‘transformative outcomes’, which represent 12 leverage points of system transformation in the perspective of sustainability transitions literature (Geels and Schot, 2007; Ghosh et al, 2021). These transformative outcomes orient the TOC towards system transformation and support the learning approach (Molas-Gallart et al, 2021).

Empirically, this paper discusses how co-creation was approached by two of these projects: SATURN and SuSMO. Both projects illustrate distinctive contexts for implementation, both in terms of the maturity of the discussion on transformation and portfolios, and the differences in functions of the co-creation approach for knowledge services at different phases of project implementation.

Co-creation process

This section describes how the projects SATURN and SuSMo co-created their Transformative TOC, and associated co-creation functions, in different phases of the project. It describes the process of transdisciplinary collaboration between the project members (SATURN and SuSMo) with the research team, which the authors were part of. This process was set up to maximise knowledge exchange and mutual learning between project parents (and knowledge about real cases) and our team (methodological knowledge). We describe the process in three phases: context setting, development of the TOC, and development of a monitoring framework.

Context setting

The first phase focused on providing tailored support [f6] to the projects, understanding their context, needs and availability. We learned that the SATURN project had already developed a TOC which used a logic framework, starting from the current problem (in orange), and it was guided by the vision (in green), including inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes (Figure 2). However, not all team members in SATURN were familiar with this TOC, as it had been developed only at the project proposal stage and not socialised.

Original SATURN project Theory of change presented a lineal process
Figure 2:

SATURN original Theory of change build using a Logic Framework and individually per work package

Citation: Evidence & Policy 19, 2; 10.1332/174426421X16711051078462

In contrast, the project SuSMo had no existing TOC. Hence, the first step was to define goals and expectations for both parties, through individual interviews. From these initial interactions we learned that the project had been going through important changes, with one of the project members dropping out, and changes in leadership due to Brexit.

We learned that each of the project work packages was being conducted rather independently, and that while there was a shared vision, there was a need to see the connections between different elements of the project as a portfolio of services. In the first project workshop, the project members co-designed a system representation of shared mobility, which included the key concepts of multi-level perspective such as niche and regime. In this, the participants identified the multiple innovations or niches in which shared mobility had developed (shared cars, shared bicycles, and so on), as well as how the actions envisioned in the SuSMo project would induce changes in the dominant and widespread system or regime. This representation served as a basis to discuss the vision and intervention points of the project, later translated into the TOC.

Co-creating a Theory of Change

In the second phase, we focused on the co-design [f4] of a TOC for each project, facilitating the dialogue between different project members and work packages and their specific perspectives and contributions to the desired goals of each project.

For SATURN, project members were refamiliarised with the existing TOC in workshops where they discussed it, from the perspective of the different focal points of each of the project work packages. The initial TOC required substantial updates because of new knowledge, contingencies, and priority changes; moreover, some topics that were originally envisioned were dropped.

This input was translated into a restructured TOC incorporating a systems transformation perspective. We integrated the activities and outcomes described in the various TOC per work package into a single TOC and related it to the transformative outcomes’ perspectives as a proxy for systems transformation. To facilitate dialogue, this TOC was translated into a narrative, which connected transformative outcomes with different activities, as illustrated in the following text, three activities (italics) relate to the outcome ‘develop institutional support and space’ (in bold).

The project is helping to develop institutional support and space for alternative food practices and entrepreneurs through different measures. Notably through the strong involvement of the local municipality who has offered test sites for alternative agricultural practices/business for urban food production. This is combined with the provision of alternative financing models (by the local government) and thereby financial support for growers/food entrepreneurs who want to grow on these test sites.

The narrative was discussed and validated with the project members to consistently reflect their goals. The original linear figure was changed to a representation more aligned with systems transformation, using as a visual metaphor an adapted version of the x-curve (Hebinck et al, 2022; Silvestri et al, 2022), which represents the processes of systems transformation as described by the transformative outcomes, hence connecting visually the project-level TOC with a broader theory of systems transformation (Figure 3). For simplicity, only activities are included in the figure, while inputs and outputs feature in the TOC narrative.

New SATURN project Transformative Theory of Change illustrating connections with an X curve
Figure 3:

SATURN’s transformative Theory of Change

Citation: Evidence & Policy 19, 2; 10.1332/174426421X16711051078462

For the case of SuSMo, we developed a first version of TOC based on interviews and secondary sources, structured around inputs-activities-outputs-outcomes-impact, and integrating the different work packages. At the core, it represented the activities aimed at creating a community of practice around shared mobility, which would support co-learning. Connected to these actions, there is the development of specific tools for public procurement, behavioural change, private-public partnerships, and evaluation of shared mobility.

This first version of the TOC was presented to the SuSMo team in a workshop, where participants stressed the centrality of the stakeholder engagement activities that would create a community of practice around shared mobility, as an enabling element for the rest of the activities. Being able to clearly visualise the interactions between these core activities and each of the knowledge services contributed to improving the strategy of the project and communicating it to external stakeholders.

With this feedback, we co-designed [f4] a second version of TOC that showed the systemic interconnections between different elements, distinguishing between the different knowledge services, their connections, and the different leverage points of systems transformation that the project contributed to; these were transformative outcomes, such as the creation of networks, the creation of shared visions and expectations, the learning and unlearning, and the circulation of knowledge. This new TOC was structured around ‘pathways’ that connected specific inputs-activities-outputs-outcomes, each representing one of the work packages of the project.

After this second workshop, the SuSMo team wanted to crystalise their new TOC into an appealing graphic that would work as a visual narrative for the project approach and desired outcomes. We worked with a designer to build a visual representation that showed the centrality of the stakeholder’s engagement pathway, and each of the knowledge service pathways that worked both independently and together (Figure 4). The SuSMo team used this figure in the yearly report to stakeholders, to communicate their approach.

New SuSMo project Transformative Theory of Change illustrating systemic connections
Figure 4:

Simplified figure of SuSMo’s TOC

Citation: Evidence & Policy 19, 2; 10.1332/174426421X16711051078462

Monitoring and learning about systems transformation

The last phase of the process was to use the TOC developed as a means to monitor and reflect on the achievements of each project. Here, we focused on brokering [f2] between different project members and their stakeholders, facilitating [f5] dialogue and the production of actionable results, and co-learning [f1], reflecting on the approach developed through this collaboration. For the two projects, we co-developed a monitoring and evaluation framework underpinned by the principles of systems transformation. The ultimate purpose is to help projects or programmes understand how they are contributing to systems transformation, and to design and/or reorient activities that are more effective in doing so.

In the case of SATURN, the project members selected two transformative outcomes out of the ten initially mapped in the TOC. These outcomes were Circulation and Upscaling, which refer to the capacity of an initiative to share visions, knowledge, and practices about an innovation among different communities and locations. We designed a set of tools that would promote an assessment, reflection, and action plan for these outcomes. The first tool draws on participatory self-assessment ideas and principles that were developed and tested in transformative change initiatives in the water management sector (Rogers et al, 2020). Building on this work, the tool was adapted using a tailor-made rating scale (1–5) that asks the participants to assess to what extent they think a certain outcome has been achieved in the project at a given point in time. This self-assessment was discussed among the participants of the workshop, and potential improvements of the outcome are identified (for example, additional activities, inputs). By using this tool, participants learned about transformative outcomes in the context of their project, the status of their project and how it could be improved. The results of this workshop were used to update some elements of the TOC and advise SATURN on key actions for the coming period.

Afterwards, we co-designed [f4] a set of indicators for those activities that were deemed important to improve on during the self-assessment workshop. The indicators were translated into an online survey that was circulated to all project members. The survey results were analysed and synthesised into a slide deck and an online video, which also contained a set of recommendations for further improving on the transformative outcomes Circulating and Upscaling.

Lastly, another self-assessment was conducted with the SATURN members. The aim was to compare the results with the first self-assessment interaction and to reflect on what went well and what did not with regard to improving on Circulating and Upscaling, as well as the lessons learned regarding those two outcomes on future projects.

In the case of SuSMo, we co-designed [f4] a monitoring approach based on the TOC. We restructured the project-level outcomes in order to more clearly reflect their systems transformation effects, and to facilitate their incorporation into the evaluation of activities of the project. The stakeholder engagement pathway was connected to the networking outcome. Monitoring and Evaluation focused on three pathways: Stakeholders’ engagement, Data for Evaluation of shared mobility and new tools, and frameworks for Policy, Regulation and Procurement. To do so, we implemented a survey that asked participants to reflect on the selected outcomes and to what extent these had been achieved in the project, what have been the challenges and key learnings. The networking outcome was evaluated at the project level, and the outcomes circulation, expectations and learning/unlearning were evaluated for the two selected pathways.

Responses to the survey showed that there was considerable variation among project members in the perception of how much these outcomes had been achieved during the project lifetime, varying between different work packages. The survey responses were then discussed in a final workshop that coincided with the closing of the project. Here, participants reflected on the extent to which the activities conducted during the project achieved the envisioned outcomes, how the project responded to challenges emerging through the implementation, and what lessons could be carried forward to future projects. One important reflection from project members was regarding the value of monitoring in constantly changing environments such as shared mobility, to keep knowledge services up to date with the demands of stakeholders. In that respect, stakeholder engagement would need to become more forward-looking rather than only focusing on past lessons learned (Penna et al, 2021).

Understanding the different phases of co-creation and its functions

We have illustrated how various co-creation functions are used through the process of implementation of TIP, with the specific approach of the transformative TOC. We describe how this approach fulfils some of the key requirements of TIP-oriented methodologies: systems-level perspective, modularity (tailored support), operationalisation of scientific concepts into actionable knowledge, integration of different perspectives, and orientation towards learning. Table 2 summarises the most relevant functions for each phase and knowledge output of the project.

Table 2:

Co-creation functions of the Transformative Theory of Change approach

Phase TIP-related knowledge output Function
Context setting Adapted methodological approach (modularity) Tailored support [f6]: understand project needs and ambitions regarding systems transformation, align with key timelines and practices. Example: SuSMo and SATURN different starting points regarding TOC.
Systems map

(systems perspective)
Co-design [f4] a model representation of the systems transformation envisioned by the team – as used in the SuSMo project.
Developing a TOC Draft TOC

(knowledge integration)
Facilitation [f5] as translation of academic frameworks into practical knowledge of relevance for the project. Example: Translation of transformative outcomes into project outcomes.
Final TOC

(knowledge integration)
Co-design [f4] a TOC that represents the mental model shared by project members with respect to the different actions and outcomes of the project. Example: X-curve representation in SATURN and graphic representation in SuSMo.
Narrative TOC

(translation of scientific concepts)
Co-design [f4] and Co-learning [f1], translating concepts and frameworks to the project level and reflecting on the actions it might be able to take. Example: SATURN narrative TOC that connects different work packages.
Monitoring and evaluation Self-assessment tool

(learning orientation)
Brokering [f2], by enabling the exchange of perceptions, challenges, and ideas between members of different work packages.

Facilitation [f5], mutual consultation regarding the status of the project in a protected space where constructive criticism could be provided, within a clear framework and set of steps that translates to concrete actions for improvement. Example: SATURN’s self-assessment.
Online survey and self-assessment workshop

(learning orientation)
Brokering [f2], enabling exchange between different work packages with respect to the achievements of the project.

Co-learn [f1], creating a shared understanding of how this actionable knowledge can inform the project and other initiatives.

Example: as used in SATURN and SuSMo’s case to review projects at the end of their period.

Tailored support [f6]

The modular approach described in this paper allowed us to tailor the design of TIP processes to the different project needs and contexts, as we saw in the cases of SATURN and SuSMO, each having distinct starting points. We were able to define, together with project members, the scope, purpose and intended outcomes of the co-creation process, ensuring that this would be relevant to project needs. The focus on outcomes ensured that the knowledge generated and concrete outputs of every step of the process could be used by project members.

Co-design [f4]

At the core of this approach are the processes of co-design of knowledge assets that can summarise the main outcomes of each step and help communicate the key results. Communication and knowledge flows are critical inputs to facilitate the continuity of the co-creation process. Knowledge flows can take different forms in terms of the inputs and intermediate outputs related to the different phases of the process. The visual representation as well as the narrative of the TOC were used by project members to communicate their strategy to stakeholders, and to revise their activities.

Facilitation [f5] and brokering [f2]

The functions of facilitation and brokering, as implemented by the authors, enabled the shared and broad understanding of how each of the two projects contributed to systems transformation in their specific contexts, and allowed them to focus their activities in making this contribution more effective. As described in the case of SATURN, the project members co-created a shared narrative of the overall transformation pathway that the project envisioned, and later decided to focus on the aspects that were most relevant for their context, that is, circulation and upscaling of new knowledge and practices.

Co-learning [f1]

Creating an environment that fosters learning is key to understanding how systems are changing in response to TIP interventions. In our case, through a constant revision of the transformative outcomes the project members were able to identify synergies, gaps, and focus areas in each project even after the project had started. We can say this is a co-learning process when the research team also learns about how the conceptual and methodological building blocks operate in different contexts. Furthermore, the approach is well suited for learning and adaptability when there are a variety of stakeholders, contexts, and goals. TIP is a complex framework that requires a clear definition of the specific meaning of transformation for a set of stakeholders, and what elements of a system need to be transformed. To guide its process, we chose to use a specific theory of transformation reflected in the transformative outcomes. This process of facilitation and translation of scientific concepts helped us to understand the added value of the theory to address practical issues, as well as its limitations. It showed how the transformative outcomes concept can contribute to a holistic understanding of systems intervention for projects working on portfolios. For instance, in the case of SATURN, the selected transformative outcomes reflected on the knowledge management aspect of the project and worked as focal points for project activities and outcomes, highlighting how different elements of the project, working together, could have an effect at the systems level. In terms of limitations, we noted that the focus of the transformative outcomes towards social and institutional change overlooked elements related to resource flows and the natural environment, which are important when working in sustainability challenges.

Addressing power differentials [f3]

The function ‘addressing power differentials’ mentioned by Yazejian et al (2019) was not something we could explore in these two cases, since we worked mostly with project members and not with external stakeholders that built the consortium, a process that had already taken place when our collaboration began.

In addition to the functions introduced earlier, we would like to highlight the importance of Knowledge Management for enabling the production of actionable knowledge over the whole co-creation process (Matti et al, 2022). All these steps are underpinned by careful harvesting and documentation that translate this shared understanding into tangible outputs. For example, the incorporation of the x-curve as a visual metaphor for transformative system change in SATURN, as well as the adaptation of the transformative outcomes to the project outcomes in the case of SuSMo, are two instances in which scientific knowledge was tailored to best serve the needs and frameworks of the projects. The combination of visual and textual narratives for the Transformative TOC was a way to operationalise actionable knowledge through synthesis, as well as to maintain the depth and nuances of the discussion.

Reflections on the TIP approach

We started our introductory section by mentioning the portfolio approach as a method used in the context of TIP. Portfolio thinking requires integration between the different activities and work packages that constitute a project, and a predisposition for learning and adaptation. In the cases of both SuSMo and SATURN, projects suffered from a lack of communication between different work packages. The transformative TOC proved to be a way to connect these different activities, adapt to changes in a collaborative way (Brexit and reduction of funding) and identify new synergies between activities.

This project also highlights the importance of building teams with skills such as facilitation, brokering, communication, translation and embedding of science-based concepts and frameworks, and the ability to lead processes of co-design that ensure coherence across different interventions while being adaptable to varied project contexts.

The projects described in this paper are small-scale, and it is worth exploring whether the lessons learned apply for larger and multi-stakeholder projects and programmes that use the TIP framework.

Funding

This project was funded by EIT Climate-KIC, Award number 190728, and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium.

Research ethics statement

All project partners described in this articled were informed about this publication and shared their written consent. Furthermore, during the process of research all participants signed an informed consent form before participating of the process. Their personal data is protected under GDPR regulation. Regarding the use of images reproduced in this manuscript, we have a written authorization from the project’s leads.

Contributor statement

CAP is the lead author of the manuscript. CB wrote the section on SATURN and reviewed several versions of the manuscript. CM reviewed several versions of the manuscript and contributed to its conceptualisation and revision.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank EIT Climate KIC and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium for funding this initiative. In particular, the authors would like to thank Jenny Witte, Susanne Keesmaan, Paulina Terrazas, Pablo Fernandes Mendez, Johan Schot, Alejandra Boni, Jordi Molas Gallart, Matthias Weber, Irene Vivas Lalinde and Jose Manuel Martin Corvillo for their guidance and support during this process; project partners from SATURN and SuSMo, for engaging in this process with us: Beth Morley, Francesco Guaraldi, Theodora Skordili, Elitsa Petkova, Alessandro Gretter, Anastasia Nikologianni and Nick Grayson.

Supplemental data

Materials are available on the website https://www.tipconsortium.net/experiment/the-motion-project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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    • Export Citation
  • Ghosh, B., Kivimaa, P. , Ramirez, M. , Schot, J. and Torrens, J. (2021) Transformative outcomes: assessing and reorienting experimentation with transformative innovation policy, Science and Public Policy, 48(5): 73956, doi: 10.1093/scipol/scab045.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hebinck, A., Diercks, G. , von Wirth, T. , Beers, P.J., Barsties, L., Buchel, S., Greer, R., van Steenbergen, F. and Loorbach, D. (2022) An actionable understanding of societal transitions: the X-curve framework, Sustainability Science, 17: 10091021, doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-01084-w.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linnér, B.O. and Wibeck, V. (2020) Conceptualising variations in societal transformations towards sustainability, Environmental Science & Policy, 106: 2217, doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2020.01.007.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lock, D. and Wagner, R. (2016) Gower Handbook of Programme Management, 2nd edn, London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis.

  • Lundvall, B.A. and Borrás, S. (2005) STI science technology innovation policy definition, in J. Fagerberg, D.C. Mowery, and R.R. Nelson (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 599631.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matti, C., Rissola, G., Martinez, P., Bontoux, L., Joval, J., Spalazzi, A. and Fernandez, D. (2022) Co-Creation for Policy: Participatory Methodologies to Structure Multi-Stakeholder Policymaking Processes, C. Matti and G. Rissola (eds), Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, doi: 10.2760/495731.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Metz, A., Boaz, A. and Robert, G. (2019) Co-creative approaches to knowledge production: what next for bridging the research to practice gap? Evidence & Policy, 15(3): 33137, doi: 10.1332/174426419X15623193264226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Molas-Gallart, J., Boni, A ., Giachi, S. and Schot, J. (2021) A formative approach to the evaluation of transformative innovation policies, Research Evaluation, 30(4): 43142, doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvab016.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nikologianni, A. et al. (2020) New integrated approaches to climate emergency landscape strategies: the case of Pan-European SATURN Project, Sustainability, 12(20): 8419, doi: 10.3390/su12208419.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OPSI OECD (2021) Public sector innovation facets: innovation portfolios, https://oecd-opsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/OECD-Innovation-Facets-Brief-Innovation-Portfolios-2021.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Penna, C.C.R., Brodnik, C. and Mendez, P.F. (2021) Monitoring, evaluation and learning for transformative change projects: lessons from MOTION’s collaboration with SuSMo, SATURN and ACT on NBS, https://www.tipconsortium.net/monitoring-evaluation-and-learning-for-transformative-change-projects-lessons-from-motions-collaboration-with-susmo-saturn-and-act-on-nbs/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rabadjieva, M. and Terstriep, J. (2021) Ambition meets reality: mission-oriented innovation policy as a driver for participative governance, Sustainability, 13(1): 231, doi: 10.3390/su13010231.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rogers, B.C. et al. (2020) Water sensitive cities index: a diagnostic tool to assess water sensitivity and guide management actions, Water Research, 186: 116411, doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2020.116411.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schot, J. and Steinmueller, W.E. (2018) Three frames for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change, Research Policy, 47(9): 155467, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.08.011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Silvestri, M., Diercks, G. and Matti, C. (2022) X-CURVE booklet. A sensemaking tool to foster collective narratives on system change. DRIFT and EIT Climate-KIC Transitions Hub. https://transitionshub.climate-kic.org/publications/x-curve-a-sensmaking-tool-to-foster-collective-narratives-on-system-change/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNDP (2022) System Change: A Guidebook for Adopting Portfolio Approaches, Bangkok, https://www.undp.org/publications/system-change-guidebook-adopting-portfolio-approaches.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2016) Institutions and axioms: an extension and update of Service-dominant logic, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(1): 523, doi: 10.1007/s11747-015-0456-3.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VINNOVA (2022) A new recipe is needed for the food system, https://www.vinnova.se/en/news/2022/05/a-new-recipe-is-needed-for-the-food-system/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weber, K.M. and Rohracher, H. (2012) Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change, Research Policy, 41(6): 103747, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.015.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yazejian, N., Metz, A., Morgan, J., Louison, L., Bartley, L., Fleming, W.O., Haidar, L. and Schroeder, J. (2019) Co-creative technical assistance: essential functions and interim outcomes, Evidence & Policy, 15(3): 33952, doi: 10.1332/174426419X15468578679853.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Figure 1:

    Conceptual representation of the different elements discussed in this paper. These include: Innovation Portfolios as a specific way of organising projects and programmes in the context of TIP; Co-creation as a process with specific functions; and TIP as a framework and goal to be delivered by the project. These elements translate into specific outcomes (actionable knowledge) such as narratives, visual representations and tools and indicators

  • Figure 2:

    SATURN original Theory of change build using a Logic Framework and individually per work package

  • Figure 3:

    SATURN’s transformative Theory of Change

  • Figure 4:

    Simplified figure of SuSMo’s TOC

  • Boni, A., Velasco, D. and Tau, M. (2021) The role of transformative innovation for SDGs localisation: insights from the South-African ‘Living Catchments Project’, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 22(4): 73747, doi: 10.1080/19452829.2021.1986688.

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  • Daimer, S., Hufnagl, M. and Warnke, P. (2012) Challenge-oriented policymaking and innovation systems theory: reconsidering systemic instruments, in K. Koschatzky (ed), Innovation System Revisited: Experiences from 40 Years of Fraunhofer ISI Research, Stuttgart: Fraunhofer Verlag, pp 21734, http://publica.fraunhofer.de/documents/N-217219.html.

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  • Diercks, G., Larsen, H. and Steward, F. (2019) Transformative innovation policy: addressing variety in an emerging policy paradigm: New Frontiers in Science, Technology and Innovation Research from SPRU’s 50th Anniversary Conference, Research Policy, 48(4): 88094, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.10.028.

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  • EIT Climate KIC (2018) Transformation, in time: EIT Climate-KIC Strategy 2019–2022, https://www.climate-kic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Transformation-in-time.pdf.

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  • European Commission (2022) EU Missions in Horizon Europe, https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe/eu-missions-horizon-europe_en.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Geels, F.W. and Schot, J. (2007) Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways, Research Policy, 36(3): 399417, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2007.01.003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ghosh, B., Kivimaa, P. , Ramirez, M. , Schot, J. and Torrens, J. (2021) Transformative outcomes: assessing and reorienting experimentation with transformative innovation policy, Science and Public Policy, 48(5): 73956, doi: 10.1093/scipol/scab045.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hebinck, A., Diercks, G. , von Wirth, T. , Beers, P.J., Barsties, L., Buchel, S., Greer, R., van Steenbergen, F. and Loorbach, D. (2022) An actionable understanding of societal transitions: the X-curve framework, Sustainability Science, 17: 10091021, doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-01084-w.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linnér, B.O. and Wibeck, V. (2020) Conceptualising variations in societal transformations towards sustainability, Environmental Science & Policy, 106: 2217, doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2020.01.007.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lock, D. and Wagner, R. (2016) Gower Handbook of Programme Management, 2nd edn, London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis.

  • Lundvall, B.A. and Borrás, S. (2005) STI science technology innovation policy definition, in J. Fagerberg, D.C. Mowery, and R.R. Nelson (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 599631.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matti, C., Rissola, G., Martinez, P., Bontoux, L., Joval, J., Spalazzi, A. and Fernandez, D. (2022) Co-Creation for Policy: Participatory Methodologies to Structure Multi-Stakeholder Policymaking Processes, C. Matti and G. Rissola (eds), Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, doi: 10.2760/495731.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Metz, A., Boaz, A. and Robert, G. (2019) Co-creative approaches to knowledge production: what next for bridging the research to practice gap? Evidence & Policy, 15(3): 33137, doi: 10.1332/174426419X15623193264226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Molas-Gallart, J., Boni, A ., Giachi, S. and Schot, J. (2021) A formative approach to the evaluation of transformative innovation policies, Research Evaluation, 30(4): 43142, doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvab016.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nikologianni, A. et al. (2020) New integrated approaches to climate emergency landscape strategies: the case of Pan-European SATURN Project, Sustainability, 12(20): 8419, doi: 10.3390/su12208419.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OPSI OECD (2021) Public sector innovation facets: innovation portfolios, https://oecd-opsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/OECD-Innovation-Facets-Brief-Innovation-Portfolios-2021.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Penna, C.C.R., Brodnik, C. and Mendez, P.F. (2021) Monitoring, evaluation and learning for transformative change projects: lessons from MOTION’s collaboration with SuSMo, SATURN and ACT on NBS, https://www.tipconsortium.net/monitoring-evaluation-and-learning-for-transformative-change-projects-lessons-from-motions-collaboration-with-susmo-saturn-and-act-on-nbs/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rabadjieva, M. and Terstriep, J. (2021) Ambition meets reality: mission-oriented innovation policy as a driver for participative governance, Sustainability, 13(1): 231, doi: 10.3390/su13010231.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rogers, B.C. et al. (2020) Water sensitive cities index: a diagnostic tool to assess water sensitivity and guide management actions, Water Research, 186: 116411, doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2020.116411.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schot, J. and Steinmueller, W.E. (2018) Three frames for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change, Research Policy, 47(9): 155467, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.08.011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Silvestri, M., Diercks, G. and Matti, C. (2022) X-CURVE booklet. A sensemaking tool to foster collective narratives on system change. DRIFT and EIT Climate-KIC Transitions Hub. https://transitionshub.climate-kic.org/publications/x-curve-a-sensmaking-tool-to-foster-collective-narratives-on-system-change/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNDP (2022) System Change: A Guidebook for Adopting Portfolio Approaches, Bangkok, https://www.undp.org/publications/system-change-guidebook-adopting-portfolio-approaches.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2016) Institutions and axioms: an extension and update of Service-dominant logic, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(1): 523, doi: 10.1007/s11747-015-0456-3.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VINNOVA (2022) A new recipe is needed for the food system, https://www.vinnova.se/en/news/2022/05/a-new-recipe-is-needed-for-the-food-system/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weber, K.M. and Rohracher, H. (2012) Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change, Research Policy, 41(6): 103747, doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.015.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yazejian, N., Metz, A., Morgan, J., Louison, L., Bartley, L., Fleming, W.O., Haidar, L. and Schroeder, J. (2019) Co-creative technical assistance: essential functions and interim outcomes, Evidence & Policy, 15(3): 33952, doi: 10.1332/174426419X15468578679853.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Carla Alvial Palavicino Utrecht University, The Netherlandsand EIT Climate KIC

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Cristian Matti EIT Climate KIC

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Christoph Brodnik Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

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