Innovation andEvidence

Innovation describes the development, implementation and dissemination of new processes, products or services in economy, policy, or society. They can include new technologies such as smart grids, but can also be socio-cultural in nature, such as new citizen participation concepts, the sharing economy and crowdsourcing and outsourcing corporate tasks.

New social models such as the concept of "sharing instead of owning" or "the good life" can be developed through cultural innovations. As with the digital revolution, technological, social and cultural innovations can influence and reinforce one another. Innovations play a crucial role when it comes to system transformations. Often, those innovations provide the necessary momentum for a system that lacks sufficient force to change on its own. But how do you know which innovations are viable for the future and how do you design the path from innovation to market entry and, ultimately, market penetration?

Thinking spaces for innovations
Thinking spaces are needed to develop new leap innovations and turn breakthrough ideas into applications.

To a large extent, decision makers are guided by evidence, meaning any form of direct insight with a particular claim to truth (in contrast to the narrower Anglo-American understanding of evidence). The Wuppertal Institute supports decision-making processes in various fields of action with its research based on scientific facts. On the one hand, this includes the transformation towards a step-by-step, dematerialised circular economy and, on the other hand, implementation of the energy transition ("Energiewende"). Those two transformation processes can only be achieved by cultural, social, and technological innovations at all levels – from households and municipal administrations to transnational corporations and the United Nations. Depending on their political context of action, economic and political decision makers need different evidence to deal with the upcoming innovations.

Depending on the context, simple narratives or heuristics (rules of thumb) can contribute to this. Otherwise, complex quantitative empirical evidence and intricate modelling are necessary. For this the Wuppertal Institute provides the necessary tools. One important field of application for innovation-related evidence is structural policy (regional policy, economic and innovation promotion) with references to the environmental economy (green economy) and transformation research. Furthermore, the Wuppertal Institute supports national and European decision makers when it comes to the development and multi-criteria assessment by providing impact assessments and evaluations.


Here you find publications on innovation and evidence.

Related publications

This is how Mobility Data can Drive the Mobility Transition Forward

Policy paper with recommendations for mobility-as-a-service, mobility management and traffic planning presented

Establishing Digital Product Passports

Wuppertal Paper presents current solution approaches to the digital product passport for the establishment of a circular economy

Raising Climate Awareness at Schools

Wuppertaler Theses on the Schools4Future project published

Zeit für den Kurswechsel: hin zu einer klimagerechten ressourcenleichten Gesellschaft

Beitrag für die politische Debatte im Wahljahr 2021

Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Real-World Labs

Team of authors on success factors and challenges of the still young research approach

Digital Eco-Innovation as a Means to Reach a Circular Economy in Europe

New Biennial Eco-innovation Observatory Report draws attention to digital circular policies and technologies

When Climate Meets Economy

How does this affect the legitimacy of international institutions?

An Obituary for the Age of Development

New edition of "Development Dictionary" and article by Wolfgang Sachs

Digitalisation of the German Energy Sector

Article discusses digital applications in the energy sector

International Energy Policy Required

Climate compatible energy supply is not enough to overcome challenges

Developing a Highly Efficient Micro-Scale CHP System

25th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition proceedings online

Vision Development towards a Sustainable North Rhine-Westphalia 2030

Paper presents results from a science-practice-dialogue

Automating Agent-Based Modelling

Data-driven generation and application of innovation diffusion models

Understanding the Diffusion of Domestic Biogas Technologies

Systematic conceptualisation of existing evidence from developing and emerging countries

A Vision for a Resource Efficient Europe

Online-article in the European Journal of Futures Research

Transition to a Resource-Efficient Circular Economy

Annual EIO report published

Carbon Recycling for Renewable Materials and Energy Supply

Article published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology

Beyond Biofuels: Assessing Global Land Use for Domestic Consumption of Biomass

An article published in "Land Use Policy"

Sustainable Resource Management

Global Trends, Visions and Policies


Putting the EU on the path to a resource and energy efficient economy


Here you find research activities in the field of innovation and evidence.

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