Project No: 16602318

Title: Innovation and Access to Technology for Sustainable Development: The Role of Public Policy Actors

PI: Prof. Matus, Kira    CI: Prof. Clark, William C. ; Dr. Timmer, Vanessa


Technological change is inextricably linked with sustainable development – improving human well-being across present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Marshaling innovation to meet sustainable development goals will require reorienting innovation systems to better serve the needs of poor and marginalized populations as well as future generations. Yet the levers of change available remain poorly understood both in academic and policy circles. This project will seek to develop a stronger, policy-applicable understanding of the role of innovation systems in advancing sustainable development, with a focus on the role played by public actors. Technologies are increasingly emerging within transnational innovation systems, as realizing sustainable development is a global task that involves linking global challenges to local contexts. Yet innovation policy is a strongly nationally oriented activity. How policy actors have been able to reconcile national needs and strategies within larger, more globalized innovation systems, is an underdeveloped area in scholarship and practice. The project will be spearheaded by a group of scholars with globally recognized contributions in this area. Building on our previous research on transnational innovation systems for sustainable development, this project will further our understanding of the role played by public policy actors. The project overall will help policy actors understand the types of interventions that are most effective in supporting the innovation system for sustainable development. It will also query the linkages between national and international innovation systems. Theoretically and empirically, the findings will guide countries with limited resources to better utilize and allocate their innovation resources for sustainable development from the policy perspective. Based on a previously developed innovation systems framework, we will review key policy documents and develop a set of novel case studies across five technology sectors (health, energy, manufacturing, water and agriculture) to meet our research objectives. We will focus on three core research questions: 1. Where in the innovation systems do, and should, governments intervene to support sustainable development (with a focus on energy, health, agriculture/food, water, and manufacturing)? 2. How do these interventions by policy actors at different geographical and political scales integrate into transnational systems of innovation? 3. How can policy actors better target their policy interventions to support technologies for sustainable development? Our findings will fill important gaps in the scholarly literature. It will also provide policy makers practical lessons to improve their innovation systems for sustainable development.