Integration of economic and solution-driven innovation policy rationalities. Innovation policy studies to support the preparation of the Reinhard Mohn Preis 2020

With a view to the presentation of the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2020, Fraunhofer ISI supports the Bertelsmann Stiftung in the professional and scientific preparation of the award ceremony. The Reinhard Mohn Prize 2020 is entitled “Forstering Innovation. Unlocking Potential”. The selection of this topic is based on the fact that Germany and Europe are facing two interrelated challenges:

  1. Innovative capacities in Europe and in Germany threaten to dwindle and, as a result, the continent could fall behind the United States and China in key areas.
  2. Europe and the world are facing existential social and ecological challenges that have found their strongest global expression to date in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

These two challenges are often addressed independently of each other or even as contradictions. The project follows a radically different approach. It is based on the hypothesis that the productive combination of the two paradigms, “fostering innovative capacities and technological competitiveness” and “solving social problems through innovation”, can generate positive effects and open up new potentials. The project therefore identifies and analyzes those political initiatives and approaches that explicitly strive for this integration and are capable of effectively combining them.

In order to sensitize policymakers and the public to the opportunities for Germany and Europe that result from the combination of competition and problem-solving orientation, and to provide further impetus to the discussion, the project critically reflects on the conditions under which this combination can succeed in innovation policy practice and the extent to which Germany and Europe can learn from it.

  • Research on international “good practice” examples (Finland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Chile, Israel, Canada, USA)
  • Desk Research: literature analysis, analysis of documents and country-specific indicators
  • Guideline-based expert interviews with national innovation policy experts

Based on selected international examples of good practice, four studies will examine the project hypothesis from four different perspectives:

  • Thesis paper 1 discusses which processes and mechanisms facilitate the conception and implementation of overarching innovation policy strategies
  • Thesis paper 2 looks at international examples of the extent to which practices of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral networking of actors can promote the linking of competitiveness and solution orientation.
  • Thesis paper 3 reflects on how mission-oriented radical or leapfrog innovations can be better promoted, thereby taking the strengths and weaknesses of the German innovation system into account.
  • Finally, thesis paper 4 discusses how start-ups from science and industry that want to make a targeted contribution to solving urgent societal problems can be strengthened, and how the growth-oriented financing of (high-tech) start-ups can be expanded.
  • The central findings and innovation policy recommendations of all studies are summarised in a synthesis paper.