System innovation and transition

Innovation has long been recognised as a powerful force for social and economic change – and one that continuously produces winners and losers.

Innovations of the past, especially those since the Industrial Revolution, have enhanced many lives. But the benefits of innovation have not been distributed equally among the world’s population, and have placed the planet’s resources under ever-increasing pressures.

We must now address these challenges.

Incremental innovations, such as increasingly efficient cars or eco-friendly consumer products, may have a short-term positive effect.

However, achieving truly sustainable production and consumption at the societal level will require major socio-technical changes to energy, mobility and food systems - and the industries, technologies, markets, government policies, everyday practices, social movements and cultural beliefs that comprise them.

Our aims

We focus on understanding how these transitions come about and how they might be accelerated. This involves studying:

  • technological, social and business model innovations
  • the role of government
  • the strategies and actions of those involved in promoting or resisting innovations
  • the ways in which new innovations shape and are absorbed into the practices of everyday life.