Innovations can be conceptualised as novel ideas capitalised on and put to use by society. The ability of companies, organisations, regions and entire societies to produce innovations is considered crucial for maintaining (future) competitiveness. Innovations are necessary for solving major societal challenges. As such, social scientists have begun examining how innovations can be organised, stimulated, fostered or steered. The IRS contributes to this body of research by studying innovations from a spatio-temporal perspective. The institute's scholars examine contemporary innovations, tracing the genesis of these novel ideas, and reconstructing the process whereby innovations develop, unfold and become consolidated. IRS scholars have succeeded in developing different models of social change, innovation and institutionalisation for various fields (different economic sectors, the politico-administrative sphere, civil society) and spatial practices. They investigate these processes at large, yet also examine in detail individual stages in the development of innovations (such as social experiments or model projects). In addition, IRS researchers have refined their methodological expertise regarding qualitative longitudinal studies (e.g. innovation biographies or financial biographies).

Photo: © wowomnom/

06. August | 2019

A special kind of business is meant when one speaks of startups – one that is internationally positioned and growth oriented, and which is situated in branches such as the digital, high-tech, or creative economies. Such enterprises require special conditions, summarised for some time now under the label of the “entrepreneurial ecosystem”. At the Herrenhausen Symposium “Temporal Dynamics in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” on 1 and 2 July in Hannover, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, leading international entrepreneurship scholars discussed the current state of knowledge on entrepreneurial ecosystems. more info

16. July | 2019

Recently, the federal commission on “Equal Living Conditions” reported considerable regional inequalities in Germany. Rural regions, in particular, suffer from poor education and employment opportunities, lower incomes and shortages in the provision of public and private services. These observations, however, are not specific for Germany. Many rural regions across Europe face challenges such as a lack of medical practices, village shops, schools and public service provision. In this situation, expectations rest on a relatively new type of organization: social enterprises. A new book explores the role of social enterprises in rural spaces. more info