System Innovation - OECD Project

System innovation is a horizontal policy approach to use combine technologies and social innovations to tackle problems that are systemic in nature; such as sustainable housing, e-mobility, health care; it involves many actors outside of government (as well as different levels of governments) and takes a longer term view.  
 
The OECD project on System Innovation is undertaken in the framework of the activities of the OECD Working Party on Technology and Innovation Policy (TIP).  The objective is to help policy makers re-think innovation policies in the context of sustainability and green growth.
 
The results of the first phase of the project which focused on developing the conceptual framework and illustrating system innovation approaches in practice through a series of case studies. Key findings include: 
 
  • Policy makers must have a clear understanding of the systemic nature of problem and their role in instituting changes through innovation ; 
  • Many technologies are already available to enable transitions in areas such as sustainable building, the bio-economy or smart cities, but without changes to institutions, laws, regulations, market mechanisms and socio-cultural attitudes, many of the solutions fail to scale.   
  • Transition management and participatory approaches can help but they also require time, consistency and stability in policy direction.
  • Understanding and managing resistance to change is a key part of system innovation. Case studies highlight that to overcome resistance, one possible solution is to divide the problem into smaller pieces or engage in public-private partnerships,
  • Need for new administrative capabilities and new needs for co-ordination across governments and in innovation eco-systems. 
  • Long-term policy strategies, with a defined roadmap and policy targets with milestone and impact indicators.
 
A second phase of the project is underway in 2015-2016. Moving beyond the concept, it examines how system innovation approaches can promote industry 4.0 and green innovation. It focuses on the role of selected policy tools such as cluster policies, demonstrators, technology roadmapping, and smart regulation which can be used to promote emerging industries and green growth.  
 
For further information contact: mario.cervantes@oecd.org 
 

 

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