Message posted on 30/11/2023

EASST-4S 2024 Open Panel: Exploring Innovation Ecosystems

Dear colleagues,

We will organize an open panel on Exploring Innovation Ecosystems at the EASST-4S 2024 Conference in Amsterdam (1619 July).

We are looking forward to receiving your paper abstracts until the 12th of February 2024 through this website:

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 (Tilburg University)


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 still scarce.

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 theory/thinking?

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,

Mareike Smolka

Dr. Mareike Smolka Assistant Professor, Wageningen University & Research Research Fellow, RWTH Aachen University Website: E-mail:

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