Society and Innovation
Among the countries distinguishing themselves through high innovativeness and competitiveness, Germany is one of the forerunners. Solidifying this position in the long term, or even improving it, will require the scientific community, the private sector and the public sector to put their performance to the test repeatedly, and be continuously improving. Innovation policy exists in order to create the framework conditions and prerequisites that are needed for this endeavour. This involves implementing measures that promote innovation capability and eliminate barriers to innovation, as well as merging the resources and competencies of stakeholders. This approach facilitates the formation of new alliances and strategic partnerships, which will focus on the societal tasks and challenges and lead to targeted performance improvements in public services and in parts of the private sector.
In order to generate relevant knowledge and expertise that can be applied to specific challenges while also improving competitiveness, we believe that the triad of education, research and the private sector is necessary. When all three aspects of this knowledge triangle work together, ideas can lead to socially relevant developments that also boost competitiveness; innovation can happen. This results in social innovations being added to the spectrum of technology-based products, processes and services.
The terms ‘maker movements’, ‘citizen science’ and ‘open innovation’ describe novel phenomena that can supplement the existing structures of the German innovation system and offer a source of unconventional solutions. Although the long-term role of these developments is not yet clear, they do depict the transformation that is happening, even within the innovation system itself. The markets and communities that are emerging have new rules and ways of operating – something they have in common with innovative start-ups, for example.
Disruptive innovations are becoming an increasingly central part of innovation policy discourse. New players are being integrated in the innovation process and civil society is also becoming more actively engaged in innovation. Disseminating the ‘innovative basis’ in this way results in the need for new political concepts, not only for political opinion forming and decision making but also for strategic direction and practical implementation.
Some of today’s societal challenges are very complex and purely technological innovations will not provide solutions.
As such, obtaining a comprehensive understanding of innovation will increasingly involve paying attention to ‘non-technical’ and ‘social’ innovations. There are no universally accepted definitions of these terms. Non-technical innovations include new business models and novel concepts for products, services, processes, organisational methods and marketing. With these innovations, the primary added value is generated by novel application contexts, extended uses, business models or organisational structures. A social innovation goes one step further. It is characterised as a (re)configuration of social practices that results in viable and sustainable social solutions.
A key characteristic of this kind of innovation is that the invention phase and the innovation phase are closely interlocked. Furthermore, groups of players from wider society are included in the innovation process. As such, non-technical and social innovations tend to emerge in hands-on, experimental settings rather than from a controlled laboratory test.
We help our clients to develop effective tools for the changing processes of innovation and value creation. This involves scrutinising and developing the existing constellations of players, structures and mechanisms, creating intentional openings and specifically seeking out international cooperation. In particular, the European Union offers opportunities to partner with others, so that substantial tasks can be tackled together rather than individually and suggestions from other countries can be incorporated.
Our work as a knowledge-rich service provider also includes laying the foundations for evidence-based decision making, evaluating structures and measures, developing innovation policy concepts and operational measures and providing practical, scientific support and analysis. We communicate closely with established and emerging players, which helps to ensure that we are fully immersed in scientific and innovation policy discourse. This enables us to provide our clients with comprehensive and well-balanced yet pointed information that is extremely useful to them.