Since Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) emerged in 2016 as a framing for science, technology and innovation policy, to tackle the difficult realities of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, practitioners and researchers have been calling for tools and practices that can action TIP . ‘The why’ this is needed is clear – the world must move in a new, effective, sustainable direction to prevent climate disaster and to tackle rampant inequality. The ‘how to’ tackle this direction change is less evident.
Professor Johan Schot, co-author of the pioneering three frames paper; and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) founder and Academic Director, has always stressed the importance of producing tools to enact the TIP theory. “Working on system change for addressing the Sustainable Development Goals is hard and difficult,” Professor Schot observes, “Practitioners urgently need new insights and tools.”
Many business schools, academics, policymakers, scientists, entrepreneurs, corporations, campaigners, communicators, NGOs and activists are rising to the climate and inequality challenge. Striving to be part of the solution; to be on the right side of history; to create the breakthroughs that can change the earth’s current trajectory, bringing hope and opportunity to the debate.
TIPC’s open-access Transformative Innovation Policy Resource Lab (TIP RL) is part of this new wave of transformational thinking to alter the behaviours and narratives that inform systems. The TIP Resource Lab gives governments, businesses and the third sector a starting-point for real change, with a host of multimedia, interactive methods; analytical and skill-building tools that can steer funding and programmes towards transformative change. The insights and materials available in the TIP RL allow systems, and the rules that underpin and drive them, to be understood, rethought, and recreated to steer on to a new course.
To bring a sustainable reality to life, the TIP Resource Lab has been crafted from six years of action-research across diverse contexts from the Global South and North. Working directly with policymakers, the TIP methodology, with the accompanying tools and materials, has been established to help design the fundamental change that systems need. Many researchers and practitioners have been at the frontier of TIP action-research, using this experimental methodology to work towards fulfilling societal, economic and environmental aims.
Further, central to this unsustainable trajectory that the world is currently on is much of the economic and policy thinking still in play. Methods and discourses that have produced our dominant systems in energy, food, mobility and finance, amongst others, will struggle to provide the transformational tactics for change. While rising standards of living over decades, these ‘business-as-usual’ approaches are faltering in finding the robust sustainable pathways required. It is an axiom of life that ‘status quo in; status quo out’. Or to cite, Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The world is locked-in to that fossil-fuelled, linear production, mass consumption, waste disposal insanity.
Moreover, the dominant values, assumptions and knowledges at play in modernity have their roots and rationales in the ‘first deep transition’, namely the Industrial Revolution. The beliefs and assumptions of this time have led us to extend unsustainably beyond the planetary boundaries. These well-worn models and methods for growth have taken us to a moment in history where the International Panel on Climate Change has issued yet another urgent warning to decision-makers and gate-keepers to speed up climate action, and the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said: “Under current policies, the world is headed for 2.8 degrees of global heating by the end of the century. In other words, we are headed for a global catastrophe.” He states that “urgent system-wide transformation,” is required.
The formation of the TIP RL, co-created with the TIPC member countries and those in the TIP Knowledge Community, provides mechanisms to gain traction on achieving different outcomes.
Interested and enlivened by the theory, policymakers and practitioners joined forces with the TIP RL’s central production team to be part of the ‘TIP Network of Coaches’. Practitioners were intrinsic in the co-creation of the lab, attending preview events and testing the tools with feedback for refinement and real-world application.
“We have curated and adapted the TIP Resource Lab to provide tools to action transformative systemic change,” explains Schot. “The insights and learnings, that led to the development of these system change tools, are based on our real-time experimentations within our member countries and coaches globally. It is a major accomplishment of the TIPC work over the last six years to have created, and tested, the TIP methodology. The Lab can now provide pathways of action to prompt a green and just transition. The TIP RL, and associated TIP Knowledge Community (TIP KC), bring together the experience gained in the transformative change arena.”
With the TIP Resource Lab, there is the opportunity to make a different future. Combined with TIP, is the ambition of its parallel project, Transformative Investment from the Deep Transitions Lab, which works within the finance sector. Backed by global investors Baillie Gifford and others, the Transformative Investment mandate is to move away from short-term profits towards long-term investments in system change as outlined in the Transformative Investment Philosophy. In an accompaniment to TIP, the central premise of TI is that this fresh approach to impact investing provides finance with the opportunity to create sustainable value, and values, for global economies and societies.
In the discourse of Sustainability Transitions theory, by creating fundamental systems reconfigurations, which are synonymous in magnitude with the momentous and fundamental shifts in lifestyles and livelihoods seen in the First Deep Transition (the Industrial Revolution), synchronised public and private investment can propel societies and economies into a 21st century’s sustainability revolution, and thus a Second Deep Transition.
To reflect the experiences of the TIP Knowledge Community and the TIP Resource Lab with policy and investment audiences, this blog series aims to share how the methods and tools are being utilised across diverse contexts – what the findings, challenges and outcomes have been to bring to life the digital materials in a meaningful way.
In the series, by highlighting the lived experience of those using the TIP methodology, we can facilitate further collaboration and capabilities across the research, practitioner and investment network.
As Professor Schot concludes: “The pertinence of such action-research tools and insights continues to grow as the challenges posed by the SDGs, climate change and inequality, keep deepening. The TIP RL is a springboard for development, for both the Global North and Global South, to a sustainable, viable future.”
The blog series features a new edition each month showing how the TIP RL tools and activities are being implemented across projects and policy in different contexts and geographies. To keep up-to-date with the insights, experiences and advancements sign-up for the newsletter.
Transformative innovation policy: A systematic review, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions,
Volume 43, 2022,