Innovation platforms fostering low-carbon economy resource mobilisation. A community of practice approach for knowledge triangle integration in EU peripheral regions

Date08 July 2019
Publication Date08 July 2019
AuthorIrene Vivas Lalinde,Cristian Matti,Julia Panny,Blanca Juan Agulló
SubjectPublic policy & environmental management,Environmental technology & innovation
Innovation platforms fostering
low-carbon economy resource
A community of practice approach for
knowledge triangle integration in EU
peripheral regions
Irene Vivas Lalinde
UNU MERIT, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Cristian Matti
Transitions Hub, EIT Climate-KIC, Brussels, Belgium and
Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, University of Utrecht,
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Julia Panny
EIT RIS Programme, EIT Climate-KIC, Brussels, Belgium, and
Blanca Juan Agulló
Transitions Hub, EIT Climate-KIC, Brussels, Belgium
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the potential of innovation platforms to realise SDGs
targets by focussing in sustainable innovation process related to infrastructure and industrialisation.
Design/methodology/approach Analysis of different policy documents, reports as well as a series of
interviews and participatory processes run in 20162017 of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme programme
to prototype a knowledge triangle integration (KTI) index.
Findings Preliminary findings show that EIT Climate-KIC operates as an innovation platform that
mobilise resources to increases capabilities for climate innovation.
Practical implications The paper contributes to a better understanding of the complexity of the efforts
needed to tackle climate innovation regarding resource mobilisation for KTI processes by focussing on how
platforms work in a bottom-up way.
Originality/value Mechanisms and processes that consolidate local knowledge and strengthen relational
assets with regards to climate innovation are important for the realisation of some of the 169 targets of the
2030 Agenda.
Keywords Climate change, Community of practices, Sustainable Development Goals, European regions,
Innovation platforms, Regional innovation
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Innovation has been widely described as an essential process required to find solutions
to societal challenges such as global warming and clean energy (European Union, 2016).
As part of innovation policy debates, platforms are indicated as mechanisms that
facilitate that process by enabling systemic effortsthatwillalsobethematicandspatial
(Bloomfield and Steward, 2016; Miedzinski, 2017; Steward, 2012). The connection
between Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and innovation is more and more present
in policy debates (Walz et al., 2017) where the 17 Global Goals, as part of the 2030
Agenda, highlight the potential synergies between defined targets in different but
integrated themes.
World Journal of Science,
Technology and Sustainable
Vol. 16 No. 3, 2019
pp. 142-158
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/WJSTSD-04-2018-0032
Received 29 April 2018
Revised 1 August 2018
Accepted 27 August 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
This paper addresses the role of innovation platforms as catalysers of transformative
processes in European peripheral regions, acknowledging that not all have the same capacities
(Tödtling and Trippl, 2005). Transformation into a low carbon economy by 2030 in this context
will require strong institutional capacity (Healey et al., 2003), having a systemic instead of a
picking the winnerapproach (Asheim et al., 2011) and including new marginalised actors
and incorporating new innovation modes such as experimentation (Schot et al., 2018;
United Nations, 2016). In doing so, the role of innovation platforms in the context of SDGs is
explored by looking at processes on knowledge triangle integration (KTI) as mechanisms to
facilitate resource management and foster emerging communities of practices in low carbon
economies. Looking at different dimensions of KTI, measuring them across Europe and
indexingresults for comparison contributes to the discussion aboutthe dynamics of platforms.
The SDGs are increasingly present in the field of innovation in theEuropean Union (EU),
highlighting potential synergiesof EU programs with the 169 defined targets in the different
but integrated goals (Giovannini et al., 2015). The study willlook specifically at SDG 9: Build
resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster
innovation, whose scope is to enhance research and upgrade technological capabilities.
Empirically,emphasis is put on the case of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS[1]),
an EIT and EIT Climate-KIC[2] programme in the context of peripheral European regions.
Focus is put on the emerging practices on combining research, education and business
activities drivenby the understanding of innovationas a systemic process (Matti and Panny,
2017) by looking at the performance of different actors in activities aimed to foster KTI[3].
The aim of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of the existence
of communities of practice and their value for innovation. It will shed light on ways
to effectively support technological as well as practice-place-based innovation by
exploring regional narratives on the variety of mechanisms for resource mobilisation
and knowledge integration.
The structure of the remainder of the paper is as follows: Section 2 provides the
conceptual framework of the study, while Section 3 introduces SDGs as part of the
broad policy background for innovation platforms. The empirical study (Section 4) is
divided into the methodology and the details of the case study. Section 5 develops the
outcomes of the analysis, which are discussed in the next section. Finally, Section 6
provides the conclusions.
2. Innovation platforms, an enabling mechanism of knowledge triangle
The term platform has become almost ubiquitous in the innovation field. Conceptually,
platforms are defined as systemic infrastructures, instituted governance mechanisms,
organisations, and organisational innovations. They are also defined as a set of products,
services or technologies. Different authors describe two predominant forms of platforms:
internal or company-specific, and external or industry-wide (Gawer and Cusumano, 2014).
Generally, industry or technological platforms serve the organisation and coordination of
distributed (or localised) innovation processes generated in a wide range of industries, and
firms featuring high degrees of complexity (Consoli and Patrucco, 2007, 2008; Gawer, 2010).
Innovation platforms can be understood from a more systemic perspective by focussing
on their conceptualisation as structures that allow the coordination of a variety of actors by
combining individual goals and capacities with shared purposes, norms and expectations.
These interactions are based on the ability to maximise the variety of knowledge stemming
from otherwise dispersed knowledge bases, while maintaining coherence through a
minimum level of hierarchy and clear direction within coordinated actions (Consoli and
Patrucco, 2007, 2011). The explicit engagement of different actors is a crucial institutional
element to understand the governance of complex knowledge (Consoli and Patrucco, 2007).

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