New directions for RIS studies and policies in the face of grand societal challenges

Franz Tödtling, Michaela Trippl, Veronika Tesch

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Abstract

The regional innovation system (RIS) approach has become a widely used framework for examining the dynamics of innovation across space and for crafting policies to promote the innovation capacity of regions. The dominant focus has been on technological and business innovation enhancing competitiveness and economic growth. In light of persistent environmental and social challenges such as climate change, aging, and growing inequalities, this understanding appears to be too narrow. We argue that the RIS approach requires a critical reassessment for informing the next generation of regional innovation policies. We explore how RIS scholarship and policies could benefit from an alternative understanding of the innovation process. Inspired by recent work on mission-oriented and transformative innovation policies, we develop the notion of a ‘challenge-oriented RIS (CoRIS). In contrast to conventional understandings of a RIS, this approach embraces a more critical view of innovation, captures the directionality of change, opens up to new innovation actors at different territorial scales, and pays more attention to the application side and upscaling of innovation within the region and beyond. Acknowledging that regions vary in their capacity for transformative change and challenge-oriented innovation, the article outlines new directions for place-based innovation policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 18
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 507023 Location development
  • 502039 Structural policy
  • 502014 Innovation research
  • 507011 Spatial research
  • 507014 Regional development
  • 507
  • 507016 Regional economy

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