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NWO call mission-driven innovation systems

11 July 2022
Within the KIC call 'Mission-driven innovation systems in a regional context: a knowledge base for social earning power', three projects have been awarded funding. One of the allocated projects is the Fieldlabs@Scale project led by Hans Berends.

Interdisciplinary consortia of knowledge institutions, private and public partners will research how the functioning of mission-driven innovation systems can be better understood, substantiated and optimised. Together, the projects will be awarded over EUR 4.2 million. Societal and private partners will contribute an additional EUR 800,000 in co-financing.

This call is part of the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda (KIA) Social Earning Power (KIA MV) and focuses on developing knowledge about factors that can indicate the success of innovation scaling up and acceleration within mission-driven innovation systems. In short, the aim of this call is to gain more knowledge and understanding of how mission-driven innovation systems work. The research offers insights into the intermediate steps needed to move from innovation to societal impact and earning power.

Fieldlabs@Scale: Towards effective collaborative experimentation for mission-driven innovation
One of the assigned projects is the Fieldlabs@Scale project, of which Hans Berends is the coordinator. Fieldlabs are emerging as a promising approach to mission-driven innovation. They bring together regional stakeholders—including business and knowledge institutes—to collaboratively experiment with solutions for societal challenges. Their effectiveness remains mixed as they face problems in scaling such innovative solutions in business ecosystems. Involving a broad, interdisciplinary consortium, Fieldlabs@Scale studies fieldlabs in agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure, and smart industry. We develop new theories on mechanisms for collaborative experimentation and co-create a toolkit and Fieldlab Academy programs alongside policymakers, regional network organizations, and fieldlab participants in our consortium, to support fieldlabs in accelerating mission-driven innovation and generate economic and societal value.

What is a mission-driven innovation system?
Climate change, cybersecurity, ageing: our society faces major challenges. Since 2020, the national government has therefore embarked on a mission-driven top sector and innovation policy. Mission-driven innovation changes the way we look at the context and the systems within which innovation takes place. A mission-driven innovation system can be implemented in many ways.

For example: an initiative to tackle food waste locally with local landowners, farmers, food processors, businesses and consumers by making soups and sauces from vegetable surpluses that are sold at a local supermarket. This is where societal challenges around sustainability and access to healthy food come together with earning potential. Questions that arise from the call include: what aspects play a crucial role in the successful acceleration of this innovation? When scaling up, how do you keep in touch with the various parties involved (landowners, farmers, food processors, businesses and consumers)? Working out these issues requires a combination of perspectives and changes at different layers and areas: technology, policy and behaviour.