Experience of experimentation within TIPC’s Africa Hub indicates that designing an experiment for Transformative Innovation Policy requires the following:
- Firstly, the bringing together of a diverse understanding and engagement of a wide range of stakeholders across all stages of research and innovation pathways in non-linear ways.
- Secondly, this calls for a stronger shift towards a culture of co-creation or co-production of knowledge (for example science and research) with formal and ‘informal’ innovation systems actors. Formal refers to main innovation actors, such as academia, industry and government, while informal refers to innovation systems actors, usually considered to be at the periphery of the innovation ecosystem such as civil society and grassroots innovators.
Six key considerations for selecting an experiment also emerge:
- Democratisation of deliberation and choice, in relation to goals and potentially implementation (with the accompanying question of how to democratise governance and evaluation of the experiment?
- Explicit consideration of the means to disrupt existing arrangements that are negatively affecting or blocking paths to meeting social and environmental needs (not only ‘bad’ prospective innovations but existing innovations that have negative implications) is required. What is the best way to identify and evaluate the impact of negatives?
- Explicit pursuit of experimental, adaptive approaches based upon the logic that (a) more of the same (policies and practices) produces more of the same (outcomes, perpetuation of policies and practices, processes and systems); and (b) prior or ex-ante knowledge of best alternatives is unavailable without experience. But, adaptation will be important. How can we promote adaptive approaches?
- New evaluative frameworks and methods for accountability and learning from experiments are needed. Existing evaluative frameworks and methods reinforce existing practices and bias planning and implementation toward prioritising traditional goals. Can ex-ante methods of evaluation of experiment and developing a theory of change be helpful in managing an experiment? If yes, what resources and capabilities will underpin this exercise?
- A broader scope of analysis is needed to anticipate alignment in changes with specific sociotechnical systems in the direction of more profound change. What should be the indicators and signs of change that we identify and use?
- A number of resources is required for successfully conducting a societal or policy experiment. This includes people – researchers and policymakers – with the right skills and capabilities (otherwise, training will be needed before the actual activities can begin), funding, organisational buy-in and support, time, and commitment. This point is central to why further policy experiments in Africa have not yet taken place within the existing TIPC programme.
Africa Hub members work in groups to discuss and select experimental case studies (2019)
- Daniels, C., Schot, J., Chataway, J., Ramirez, M., Steinmueller, E., & Kanger, L. (2020) Transformative Innovation Policy: Insights from Colombia, Finland, Norway, South Africa, and Sweden. In M. B. G. Cele, T. M. Luescher, & A. W. Fadiji (Eds.), In Innovation policy at the intersection Global debates and local experiences. HSRC Press. Available at: https://www.hsrcpress.ac.za/books/innovation-policy-at-the-intersection
- Insights from the Living Catchment Project resources. Available at https://www.tipconsortium.net/experiment/policy-experimentation-for-roadmap-to-ecological-water-sanitation-in-south-africa/
Daniels, C., Ghosh, B. (2022) Selecting experiments: Insights from the Africa Hub. Available at