GIs – Strengthening Societal Innovation Capacities

The project „GIs – Strengthening Societal Innovation Capacities“ analyses societal innovation capacities in less developed regions. It aims at developing explanations and models to understand how innovations that promote a successful regional transformation are generated. Furthermore, the project develops instruments and measurement approaches for an innovation policy that integrates and promotes societal innovation capacities.

Against this background, GIs analyses three overarching research questions:

  • What are the characteristics of complex and systemic innovation processes at the regional level?
  • How can less developed regions make use of innovation to shape structural change and development?
  • How can societal innovation capabilities be utilised to facilitate sustainable transformation in less developed regions?

GIs follows a systemic understanding of innovation by acknowledging the societal and transformative value of innovations in addition to innovation-based economic growth, , and by applying a broad understanding of environments for innovation (innovation ecosystems) which includes institutional, financial and political factors. Such an understanding of innovation enables us to study „soft“ innovation factors, such as social cohesion, social engagement, and trust in institutions. The empirical analysis is conducted in three less developed German regions.

The envisaged project results are: (1) A model explaining societal innovation capacities from a social science perspective. It is the basis for (2) instruments and policy recommendations to promote innovations in structurally weak regions that will be co-developed with practitioners. (3) A novel indicator-based concept to capture societal innovation capacities that takes into account regional differences. (4) This concept will provide a basis for future innovation policies that integrate and support societal innovation.