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

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  • Franz Tödtling

    (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

  • Michaela Trippl

    (University of Vienna)

  • Veronika Desch

    (University of Vienna)

Abstract

The regional innovation system (RIS) approach has become a widely used framework for examining the dynamics of innovation across space as well as for crafting policies aimed at promoting the innovation capacity of regions. The dominant focus of RIS studies and regional innovation policies has been on technological innovation that drives competitiveness and economic growth. In light of persistent environmental and social challenges such as climate change, health problems, and growing inequalities, this narrow understanding of innovation appears to be obsolete. This article claims that the RIS approach requires critical rethinking and reassessment to provide a solid basis for informing the next generation of regional innovation policies. We explore how RIS scholarship and policies could benefit from engaging more deeply with an alternative understanding of innovation. Inspired by recent work on responsible innovation, mission-oriented and transformative innovation policies, we develop the notion of ‘challenge-oriented RIS’ (CORIS). In contrast to conventional understandings of RIS, this approach embraces a broader and more critical understanding of innovation, captures the directionality of change, opens up to new innovation actors and novel coordination mechanisms between various stakeholders and 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 to fashion transformative change and challenge-oriented innovation, the paper outlines new directions for place-based innovation policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Franz Tödtling & Michaela Trippl & Veronika Desch, 2021. "New directions for RIS studies and policies in the face of grand societal challenges," GEIST - Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions 2021(01), GEIST Working Paper Series.
  • Handle: RePEc:aoe:wpaper:2101
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Puertas, Rosa & Carracedo, Patricia & Garcia−Mollá, Marta & Vega, Virginia, 2022. "Analysis of the determinants of market capitalisation: Innovation, climate change policies and business context," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
    2. Christian Reiner & Maximilian Benner, 2022. "Cooperation bias in regional policy: Is competition neglected?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 69(1), pages 187-221, August.
    3. Simon Baumgartinger-Seiringer, 2021. "The role of powerful incumbent firms: shaping regional industrial path development through change and maintenance agency," PEGIS geo-disc-2021_07, Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    4. Michaela Trippl & Sebastian Fastenrath & Arne Isaksen, 2022. "Rethinking regional economic resilience: Preconditions and processes shaping transformative resilience," GEIST - Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions 2022(02), GEIST Working Paper Series.

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    Keywords

    regional innovation systems; grand societal challenges; sustainability transitions; challenge-oriented regional innovation policy;
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