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 LED-bulbs or smart grids i.e. intelligent power grids, but they can also be socio-cultural in nature, such as new concepts of participation like citizen energy systems, the sharing economy i.e. the shared use of unused resources, or crowd sourcing and outsourcing corporate tasks.

Through cultural innovations, new social models such as the concept of "sharing instead of owning" or "the good life" can be developed. 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. Oftentimes those innovations bring the necessary movement to a system that lacks sufficient force to change of its own. But how does one find out which innovations are viable for the future and how do you design the path from innovation to market entry and finally to market penetration (diffusion?).

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

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

Depending on the context, simple narratives or heuristics (rules of the thumb) can contribute to this t, or rather complex quantitative empirical evidence and complex modelling are necessary. The Wuppertal Institute provides the necessary tools for this purpose. One important field of application for innovation-related evidence is, on the one hand, structural policy (regional policy, economic and innovation promotion) with references to the environmental economy (Green Economy) and transformation research. On the other hand, 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.

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

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