Exploring Innovation Ecosystems: Theories, Methods, and Practices for Systemic
Approaches to the Governance of Science and Technology
Mareike Smolka (Wageningen University and RWTH Aachen University), Christian
Herzog (University of Lbeck), Phil Macnaghten (Wageningen University),
Laurens Klerkx (University of Talca and Wageningen University), Mark Ryan
(Wageningen Research), Philipp Neudert (Human Technology Center, RWTH Aachen
University), Bernd Carsten Stahl (University of Nottingham), Merel Noorman
In recent years, governments, academia, and industry have mobilized the
innovation ecosystem concept. For example, the European Commission seeks to
build an AI ecosystem of excellence. Various regions support innovation
valleys to counter exnovation. Academia-industry partnerships promise swift
technology transfer from laboratories to markets via innovation ecosystems.
Meanwhile, STS scholars have called for a systemic turn in engagement
research, stemming from unease with design choices that fail to address the
systemic complexities of research and innovation. Scholars emphasize that many
technologies, particularly AI, are better understood and governed as systems
rather than as single devices. Some have proposed ecosystemic frameworks and
methods for STS and Responsible Innovation. However, empirical research is
Building on this emerging body of literature, this panel aims to further
develop theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches for innovation
ecosystem governance while reflexively attending to the positionality of
engaged scholars in the system. It combines paper presentations with a
discussion forum to explore new research avenues. We are particularly
interested in discussing these questions:
What is the performativity of the ecosystem analogy and related concepts,
e.g., innovation biotopes and ecologies of intermediaries?
How do discourses on innovation ecosystems relate to established systems
Which methods help us better understand innovation ecosystems?
How can we compare different innovation ecosystems, e.g., their emergence,
structural formation, and organization? Which forms of governance take place
in different types of ecosystems?
How do actors perceive their role, agency, and the innovation ecosystem
itself in which they are embedded? How can governance build individual and
systemic capacities for widening and sustaining agency?
Which role do institutions play in innovation ecosystems and which
competencies do they require to participate in governance?
How can we assess and sustain the effects of governance on system dynamics?
All the best,
Dr. Mareike Smolka
Assistant Professor, Wageningen University & Research
Research Fellow, RWTH Aachen University