The role of the activating state in radical system innovations
  • © Deutscher Bundestag / Katrin Neuhauser

Governance of Radical Environmental Innovations (Go)

The aim of the project was to develop concepts for action and governance mechanisms for the activating and coordinating role of the state in radical system transformations that reduce environmental pollution. These are to be developed concretely using the example of the innovation field of building-related heat supply.

Borderstep’s diffusion research has repeatedly shown that fundamental environmental innovations in Germany spread very slowly. About two thirds of the environmentally friendly product and service innovations introduced in the last 30 years have so far only been able to reach small market niches with a penetration rate of less than 15 percent.

On the other hand, empirical studies show that radical system innovations and their components in particular make very slow progress in diffusion or even fail completely. This is attributed to the fact that, particularly with regard to complex socio-technical systems, the promotion of environmental innovations is largely unsystematic and that the mix of instruments that can be used is not optimally coordinated.

The approach of the project was based on a three-stage process:

  1. an empirical survey of the successes, failures and experiences of previous attempts at the coordinating and activating role of the state in radical system innovations that are environmentally harmful,
  2. a discursive examination of the empirical results in initially separate, later integrated discussion groups of actors from politics, business and science, and
  3. the exemplary conception of governance mechanisms and an approach of environmental innovation policy to promote system transformation in the field of building-related heat supply.