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