The project “Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation” (CASI) is proposed as a response to one of the Grand Challenges set out in the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union, namely “Climate action, environment resource efficiency and raw materials”.

It represents an EU-wide cross-sectoral partnership on innovation-related challenges and considers not only the impacts of social and technological innovation, but also the types of actors involved and their inherent interests. It thus effectively integrates the perspectives of civil society, SMEs, industry, policy stakeholders, and leading academics.

This collaboration investigates the scope of sustainable innovation as a societal phenomenon and enables the elaboration of an assessment framework of sustainable innovation practices, whose application can be successfully integrated into public policy developments.

Motivations

CASI is based on the understanding of innovation as a key driver of societal progress in the age of technology and of imminent uncertainties about the future. Sustainable innovation, on the other hand, further enhances this understanding by introducing sustainability as a focal core of the innovation process. At the same time, this is not an attempt to introduce yet another distinctive type of innovation. Rather, CASI will foster debate on conceptual dimensions, policy boundaries, and good practices combining innovative pursuits with sustainability objectives.

A key ambition of the project is to develop a coherent methodology for the assessment of sustainable innovation practices, based on a sound conceptual framework and a shared understanding of sustainability in innovation among stakeholders. It will define the context of sustainable innovation, as well as introduce sustainability as an objective of innovation diffusion through social and market opportunities.

CASI will further explore the impacts of innovative practices, as well as of specific technological and social innovations, vis-à-vis the persisting challenges of climate change adaptation and resource depletion, and the societal effects thereof. Thus it will make a more thorough inquiry into the balance between the social, economic and environmental impacts of innovations, and will help determine the scope and priorities for national and EU policy making.

Key activities

CASI includes a rich and intensive set of activities carried out across the EU. Based on a carefully designed methodology, CASI will identify and describe sustainable innovation cases through a collaborative analytical process (mapping). More than 160 innovative practices from around the EU will provide a rich qualitative perspective and will serve as the basis for focused analysis, comparison and contrasting.

Through the process of mapping, practices representing unique social and technological innovations will be considered separately in order to inquire into specific factors of, as well as consequences for, sustainability vis-à-vis social and business-oriented challenges. Key players and stakeholders will also be identified through this process, as well as how they are affected by (or are affecting) policy-making.

CASI will provide rich opportunities and various venues for stakeholders to engage in focused debates on sustainable innovation – on the role of innovation for sustainability, on enhancing the understanding of sustainability within the innovation context, as well as on policy developments that will ensure opportunities for continuing innovation in the context of sustainability.

Actions are planned to keep track of national and EU-level policy debates on innovation and sustainability. These efforts will supplement the mapping processes of innovation cases. It will further provide grounds for comparison between opportunities of innovation adoption and trends in policy making, as well as of the balances between the two.

Based on the combination of the different analytic approaches, CASI will develop a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation (CASI-F), and will test its application on issues of sustainability through cases of social and technological innovation, and additional in-depth qualitative research of relevant actors, policy and business models, and societal responses.

CASI emphasises dialogue and participation, and relies on highly participatory methods of engagement when it comes to integrating citizens’ inputs. Based on such input and results from CASI’s internal analyses, EU-wide policy recommendations will be elaborated with the ambition to improve the integration of sustainability and innovation support actions into addressing the underlying issues embedded into the “Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials” grand challenge.

Key products to look forward to

Shared cross-functional understanding of sustainable innovation – CASI integrates the perspectives of multiple innovation and sustainability stakeholders, including those working in policy formulation, in academia, civil society, and practitioners.

Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation – the main and the most anticipated product of CASI. It will be based on all of the knowledge accumulated through CASI’s implementation, and will reflect expertise from various disciplines, results of academic research, and lessons from practitioners’ experiences.

Sustainable Innovation web portal – since the beginning of May 2014 a new web portal has been aggregating in a user-accessible form all knowledge produced within CASI. The portal is accessible at www.casi2020.eu or www.sustainnovation.eu.

A database of case studies on sustainable innovation – CASI will build a database of EU-wide sustainable innovation cases representing identified innovation practices, which have been analysed through the application of CASI-F. All cases are available on this website in the Casipedia section.

Policy briefs – CASI will regularly publish short policy oriented briefs, reporting on it progress and focusing on sustainable innovation through policy lenses. Those briefs will be shared with EU policy communities, as well as with national policy stakeholders, and each will foster debate on particular perspectives of sustainability and innovation, with an emphasis on necessary policy developments, short policy assessments, and possible ideas for necessary measures to be taken in response to impending sustainability challenges.

Quick facts about CASI:

  • CASI is a project supported by the Science I Society Programme of FP7, Theme SiS.2013.1.2-1 “Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) Action Plans: mainstreaming Science in Society actions in research”.
  • CASI activities are distributed across 11 work packages, and include a total of 40 different tasks. It will run for 42 months, from January 2014 until June 2017.
  • CASI includes 19 partner organisations from 12 countries in the European Union, and relies on an extended network of national experts in the remaining 16 countries not represented in the consortium to ensure coverage and inquiry in every EU member state.