Responsible Industry Innovation, Public Sector Innovation, and Green Innovation

The PhD programme in Responsible Innovation and Regional Development (RESINNREG) encompasses the research fields of Responsible Industry Innovation, Public Sector Innovation and Green Innovation.

Responsible Industry Innovation

The focus of this research pillar is on firms, organisations, institutions and systems to understand the drivers and obstacles for responsible innovation and regional industry development. The pillar consists of three main research topics:

  • Development and implementation of sustainable technologies in regions
  • Organising, marketing and managing for responsible innovation, and
  • Sustainability-oriented innovation systems.

Studies of development and implementation of sustainable technologies in regions are concerned with the place-based processes of, conditions for and consequences of developing and implementing sustainable technological innovations, the use of challenge-driven and mission-oriented models for technology development in local contexts and the inclusiveness of users and stakeholders.

Organising, marketing and managing for responsible innovation, includes studies of entrepreneurship, innovation management, innovation strategies and the marketing of innovations. There will be an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, how to conduct responsible innovation practice and the development of sustainable business models.

Studies of sustainability-oriented innovation system includes studies of national, regional, sectoral and technological innovation systems and industry clusters geared to environmental, social and economic sustainability. Several of these studies are using the literature on sustainability transitions to understand the shift towards more sustainable and responsible innovation systems. This includes critical discussions on how to ensure innovation practice that simultaneously accelerate transitions, respect criteria of social justice and uphold democratic principles of decision-making and governance. Moreover, there is a focus on design, implementation and monitoring of transformative innovation policies and smart specialisation strategies that engage with the ‘missions’ and ‘grand societal challenges’ epitomized by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Industry Innovation pillar is a cross-disciplinary and cross-faculty research pillar representing a mix of academic disciplines, including economic geography, engineering, economics, marketing, management and political science.

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Public Sector Innovation

The second research pillar is Public Sector Innovation. The pillar is cross-faculty and cross-disciplinary and focus on innovations at governance- and service level. Many public innovations are politically driven and emphasize citizen involvement and active citizenship, and this distinguishes innovation in the market from public sector innovations.

Our research focuses on new forms of governance, organizing and innovative practices to solving problems and meeting societal needs in a manner that improves current solutions. This implies how innovative practices are linked to professional roles, with a stress on service innovation in the health-, care- and social sectors, and this include end-users.

We also focus on development of knowledge and technology. Technology concerns digital solutions, materiality, routines, and procedures. The researchers engaged in the Public Sector Innovation pillar embrace a broad range of disciplines like the health sciences, political science, organisation theory, social anthropology, sociology, and engineering. Methodologically the group applies qualitative and quantitative approaches, including action research and experiments.

Main research topics

  • Innovative governance, management and organization of the sectors. This include collaboration across public and private sector, as well as civil society.
  • Service innovation in health- and social care. The role of professions as drivers of change is central, together with the impact of new technologies, within the framework provided by the organisational forms and governmental regulations.

In our research on public service provision, governance and service innovations, we ask questions such as the following: What distinguishes innovations in public sector from innovations in the market? What are the potential roles of voluntary actors and civil society in coproduction with public sector and the market? How do such innovations come into existence and under what conditions? How do they spread passively (by diffusion) or actively (by dissemination), and how are innovations spread in the localities adopting them – partially or fully? What drivers or barriers lead to the implementation of a specific technology? How do service innovations involve knowledge development and changes in professional roles? What factors may hinder or promote implementation and sustainability of innovation? What benefits or drawbacks may result for different stakeholders in specific service innovation processes in the short or long term? As these questions reflect, we apply a critical eye on the innovation concept and focus on the downsides, viability and sustainability of so-called innovations.

The research on governance innovations relates to issues such as new forms of organisation and leadership in the public sector, cross-sectoral collaboration, exchange of rules and norms between sectors, new forms of public–private partnerships and the relationship between governance forms and service production. Examples of service innovation themes the group has researched are reablement of frail elderly people at home and telecare in municipal health care services.

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Green Innovation

The Green Innovation pillar is a place to discuss and advance the understanding of responsible regional innovation from a multi-disciplinary and holistic perspective. It strives to overcome the nature-culture divide, through finding innovative solutions beyond merely technical approaches. It embraces a broad definition of green innovation, studying a range of topics (including social and technological innovation, nature-inspired innovation, or geoengineering). The contributions of different disciplines and their take on “green innovation” are for example:

  • Applied ecology addresses challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable land use, as well as resource constraints. It covers relevant topics for “green innovation” such as restoration ecology, population biology, climate change adaptation, risk and resource management. The perspective on innovation is one from the angles of nature-inspired innovation as well as innovative ecosystem design and management (incl. monitoring across space and time, impact assessment, and planning).
  • Energy system analysis is rooted in systems theory, focusing on the on-going and up-coming transition in the energy sector while acknowledging that the problem at stake is complex and non-linear, hence, requiring the study of system interlinkages. Innovation in the energy sector is studied under the lenses of SDG 7, namely to provide access to clean and affordable energy for all. Data-driven energy system analysis is the mean to link to other systems in an integrated way (e.g., to demographic, social, economic, and environmental systems).
  • Economics and innovation studies. According to neoclassical economics, governments should support innovation if there are market imperfections that results in too little innovation. Examples of such imperfections are learning spill-overs and the advantage that fossile energy solutions has gained due to knowledge accumulations. There is a vaste research field on how to design policy instruments to support innovation to accommodate such imperections, without creating new ones.
  • Applied geoscience is the practical application of sciences such as climatology, meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, bedrock geology, geomorphology, geohazards, sedimentology, and geophysics. It includes green innovation topics related to geoengineering; monitoring and modelling of climate changes; management and protection of water, rock and mineral resources; management of landscapes and soils and prevention of geodiversity loss; monitoring and modelling of present and future glacier and sea-level changes; monitoring, modelling and impact assessment of potential geohazards; management, monitoring and reduction methods of natural and anthropogenic hazardous isotopes, chemicals and pollution in the environment; and monitoring and modelling of water, wave and wind potential for energy use.

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