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).
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