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Workshop I: “The Use of Knowledge for Sustainability Transitions”

organized by Prof. Dr. Carsten Dreher (Chair of Innovation Management, FU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Eppinger (HTW Berlin), Carsten Schwäbe, Myriam Preiss, Daniel Weiss (FU Berlin)

Sustainability transitions aim at surmounting present environmentally damaging economic behaviours and unjust social work practices via a change in consumer’s behaviours and a substitution of old and problematic technologies by innovative alternatives. A fruitful development and diffusion of sustainable technological innovations requires new knowledge to be created, learned and adopted. This includes explicit, codifiable knowledge, such as research publications, and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents). Also trade secrets and tacit knowledge play an important role in development and adoption processes, which finally lead to the sustainability transition. While in the field of sustainability research, often open access is recommended for accelerating innovation diffusion, entrepreneurship research proposes protection of intellectual property in order to attract investments. However, the best approach of using and sharing knowledge for sustainable innovation diffusion may vary from open access to more nuanced licensing schemes, depending on the industry and region.

Furthermore, apart from the R&D and adoption activities of firms and research institutes, the dynamic development and diffusion of new knowledge for sustainability transition asks policy makers to find answers on two policy fields: First, they have to support, strengthen and accelerate knowledge creation and diffusion in order to cope with the rising and time-critical sustainability challenges, notably climate change. Second, policy-making must take decisions on the question which technological paths should be followed.

Considering these challenges in the use of knowledge for sustainability transitions our workshop aimed at bringing together researches from different disciplines and regions, in order to answer the following research questions:

  • Which licensing models are appropriate for sustainability transitions? Or do we need a change in intellectual property rights’ protection in order to support knowledge development and diffusion?
  • How can the use of tacit knowledge in market niches or by early adopters be improved and supported? How can the public in general be of help or included in the research process?
  • How can the governance of sustainability transition collect and use the dynamically evolving knowledge in the innovation processes for improving dynamic political decision making?

In order to keep an interdisciplinary environment for the workshop, we invited scholars from all relevant disciplines to submit contributions to these research questions and to one of the following technology fields concerned by sustainability transitions:

  • Energy sector with emphasis on the electricity generation
  • Food and agriculture sector (including new food systems, digital and precision farming) with a focus on the supply of (sub-)urban areas and production methods for those
  • Textile and apparel industry (including fibres, fabrics, finishing and dying processes, recycling and circular economy approaches)

Daniel Weiss with Philipp Scherer, FU Berlin

Mapping Technological Trajectories in a mature TIS under pressure

Dr. Viola Prifti, HTW Berlin

Plant variety protection: from intellectual property rights to open innovation.

Carsten Schwäbe, FU Berlin

Technology-Life-Cycle Assessment through Patent Data as a Governance Tool for Innovation Processes – The Case of Renewable Energy Technologies in Germany.

Dr. Timo von Wirth with Julia Wittmayer, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Unpacking the role of non-scientific knowledge in sustainability transition research.

Dr. Florian Kern, Institute for Ecological Economics Research (IÖW)

Governing sustainability transitions – The case of energy

Pratheeba Vimalnath PhD, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge

Intellectual Property Models for Sustainability Transitions