Our history and vision

Science, technology and innovation are widely accepted as being essential for economic growth and to serve the current and future needs of society.

diagram of 'science, tech & innovation policy', 'emerging tech: dynamics & governance', 'innovation management, business models & ecosystems' and 'sustainable innovation & system transitions'.

The Institute analyses how scientific knowledge, technology and innovation are generated and how these contribute to the economy and human well-being, through a unique, holistic research portfolio which combines four inter-linked perspectives as shown in the innovation research diamond. Our distinctiveness stems from this diamond, which allows the Institute to tackle questions across all sectors, technological areas, challenges and geographies, at organisational and systems level, whereby we cooperate with sector, challenge or technology partners as needed. We strive to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics and impacts of science, technology and innovation and the role of management, policy and societal behaviour more generally. Our final aim is to better inform public discourse and to support decision making that is beneficial for the economy and society. We are proud of our tradition of combining academic excellence with societal relevance.  

Our research activity is organised according to our diamond in four themes, each of which is led by one or more senior academics (see below). The themes allow focus in key areas of interest, whilst retaining inter-connectivity and serving to organise intellectual debate and mutual support within the Institute. The summary of those four themes also facilitates a coherent narrative both within the Institute and to the outside world. 

Science, technology and innovation policy 

Our research helps to develop our understanding of the role of the state – at all levels – in creating, maintaining and improving the conditions for science, technology and innovation. We study the relationship between public policies and funding decisions and structures, as well as the direction and effects of innovation on society.  

Innovation management, business models and ecosystems 

We analyse the ever changing strategies, processes, mechanisms and sources of innovation in firms, including the evolving international division of labour in generating innovation. We pioneer research into business services and the creative and cultural industries.  

Emerging technologies: dynamics and governance  

Emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology or synthetic biology, hold enormous potential for wealth and societal wellbeing. The nature of their contribution is, however, uncertain and often socially contested. We work to develop new concepts and methods to understand the significance of emerging technologies, new business models for their commercialisation and the conditions for responsible science and innovation governance.

Sustainable innovation and system transitions  

Addressing societal challenges such as climate change, energy security, transport and resource efficiency requires a radical shift in entire systems. We conceptualise and analyse the necessary combinations of new technologies and service models, industrial supply chains, public infrastructures, public debates and consumer practices, and supporting policies and regulations.  

This combination of themes allows us to tackle the major challenges for STI management and policies from different angles and in different combinations. By approaching science, technology and innovation from these four broad perspectives, the Institute is in a unique position to lead research not only on the policies surrounding STI but also on their implementation and application, both in the public and corporate spheres.