Looking Back: Eu-SPRI 2022 in Utrecht

Challenging Science and Innovation Policy

Annual Conference

1 – 3 June 2022

Hosted by Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University

After three years of COVID-related pause, the annual Eu-SPRI conference could finally be held in person again. Organised by the Innovation Studies Group from the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development of Utrecht University, Eu-SPRI 2022 took place in the beginning of June. It consisted of three days full of learning, sharing new insights, networking and “gezelligheid” at the social events, all in the historic and buzzing city centre of Utrecht, the Netherlands. It became clear that the academics and practitioners attending not only represent the cutting edge of research being done on science and innovation policy, but that they also form a thriving community. After years of online conferences, many were happy to finally reunite in real life. The conference venue, consisting of the “Academiegebouw”, the “Pandhof” (pictured above) adjacent to the Utrecht Cathedral and other old buildings surrounding the central Dom square, provided a beautiful backdrop for this reunion.

As one conference participant put it eloquently:

“It was so lovely to be able to be in beautiful Utrecht in person – a feast for the eyes, with all of the beautiful old buildings, and the brain, with all of the interesting presentations and conversations.”

Many participants echoed this sentiment, both during the conference and on Twitter. A sentence often uttered was “it’s great to be back!” and especially early career researchers realised the value of attending an in-person conference, which some of them did for the first time. As Nikhil John, PhD candidate in Utrecht, tweeted:

“I can’t believe how much this week’s #EuSPRI2022 supercharged my motivation, even for my own research. I utterly underestimated the impact of in-person conferences. Such a shame for my generation of PhDs and ERCs, it took 2.5 years to experience this…”

The conference was attended by more than 250 participants, coming from a range of countries and organisations. Naturally, Utrecht University provided the most attendants, but Fraunhofer ISI, University of Oslo, TU Delft, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), University of Manchester and VTT Technical Research Center of Finland were also among those particularly well-represented. Whereas (as the first letters in Eu-SPRI suggest) most participant came from universities, research institutes and policy-making organisations within Europe, there were also some notable exceptions, with a great contribution from Israel and even attendants from countries as far as Brazil and New Zealand.

The sessions tracks ranged from familiar topics such as transformative and mission-oriented innovation policy, to research areas as diverse as the space sector or the role that justice, ethics and inclusion play in STI research and policy. Moreover, there were dedicated sessions by Eu-SPRI’s new Stakeholder Advisory Board (SAB), the Research Infrastructure for Science and Innovation Policy Studies (RISIS) and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC). The SAB suggested new concrete initiatives to strengthen the connections between the science and innovation policy and academic communities and held a lively discussion on the matter. RISIS presented projects conducted by young researchers, enlightening how RISIS resources contributed to deepen and overcome particular issues. TIPC discussed the state of debate on the building of a Transdisciplinary, globally Accessible and Sustainable Knowledge Infrastructure (TASK-I) on Transformative Innovation Policy. Furthermore, each day had an interesting keynote, with Frank Miedema speaking on Open Science, Haroon Sheikh on Digitalisation and Philine Warnke on Foresight.

There was also more to be seen outside of the educational part of the conference. The three days provided attendants with the opportunity to experience the infamously unpredictable Dutch weather, with the rain fortunately followed by beautiful sunshine. Despite the sun, no one had to remain thirsty: the first day was concluded by a reception in the stunning Paushuize, the former residence of the only Dutch pope. Moreover, the second day coincided with Utrecht’s 900th anniversary as a city, filling the centre with celebratory events and joyous Utrechters. Conference participants could toast to this (and to many other things) after having dinner in the great hall of the Winkel van Sinkel. All in all, Eu-SPRI 2022 was thus a successful event and a pleasure to attend. The programme, paper abstracts and some full papers can be found on the Eu-SPRI 2022 conference website. We thank the members of the scientific committee, the organising committee, student assistants and all others who made this conference such a success! The next Eu-SPRI annual conference will take place in Brighton, UK and is organised by the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex.

Looking Back: TIP Conference

Building a Sustainable Knowledge Infrastructure on Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP)

Online Conference

17 – 21 January 2022

Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium

Organised by Eu-SPRI and TIPC and featuring global innovation and development agencies such as OECD and NESTA, the Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) Conference 2022 took place in January. The innovative online format brought together researchers, policymakers and practitioners for five days of interaction, learning, network-building, agenda-setting and action on TIP research, policy and projects. The digital conference oriented around research and experimentation for projects and programmes that create the change required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in both the Global North and Global South to achieve sustainability in systems of provision globally.

TIPC Academic Director and Founder, Professor Johan Schot reflected:

“The rich and deep interactions during the TIP Conference clearly showed the huge potential for building a knowledge infrastructure that works for action research, bringing together practitioners and scholars working on Transformative Innovation Policy. It is time to scale our fragmented efforts in order to address the Sustainable Development Goals. Leadership for such an infrastructure will come from both the Global South and Global North.”

TIP Conference Academic Director, Diana Velasco said:

“The 2022 TIP Conference was a significant milestone in building a sustainable and inclusive knowledge infrastructure for systemic transformation pathways. As a community of learning and practice, we have expanded our networks, insights and ideas. It was great to see the global interaction on the digital platform with 800 registered from over 60 countries. It is up to us all to keep the conversations and learning ongoing in our organisations and networks. Let’s keep the momentum, from our diverse community, to enhance more Transformative Innovation Policy experimental engagements to see the change we need for true system and societal transformations.”

The conference took an experimental approach, to part ways with traditional academic conferences. It offered new types of interactive panels, investment opportunities for research projects, themed networking sessions, daily learning seminars and, of course, happened online to allow access from across the globe. To ensure participation and contribution from the Global South, the conference was supported by donations and research funding from members and networks involved.

As SPRU Research Fellow and delegate, Claudia E. Obando R. tweeted:

“Delighted to see (the TIP Conference) moving forward to an online conference, that is not based on papers, doesn’t charge a fee to participants and is inclusive to different time zones across the globe. Huge congratulations to the organisers!”

Fellow organiser and co-chair, with Professor Schot, of the scientific committee, Mattias Weber said:

“The TIP Conference demonstrated the benefits of experimenting with new formats of interaction between research and practice and enabled an intense dialogue between participants from all over the world. It showcased new and promising ways of how TIP can be designed and implemented. The challenge is now to strengthen our knowledge base, networks and infrastructures to enable mutual learning and consolidate our community.”

Reflection and deep learning are a key aspect of the TIP approach and its methodology to move towards systems transformations. Each day of the conference featured interactive sessions to achieve a learning space for delegates to be present in their insight and behaviour change process and to share experiences. These sessions were among the richest. One participant concluded:

“The insights, richness of discussion, and the (learning) results are amazing. My favourite plenary of the conference was the learning one.”

All sessions were recorded and can be found online, either via the conference programme, or directly on the TIPC Youtube channel.

EIBA & Eu-SPRI Early Career Summer School at Lake Como

Como Lake

Research Methods, Theories and Policies for Navigating the Complexities of the Digital Age

Early Career Summer School

25 – 29 July 2022

Como, Italy

Lake Como School of Advanced Studies

Organised by Politecnico di Milano



The Summer School is a joint initiative with the EIBA – European International Business Academy (www.eiba.org). It aims at providing participants with tools to understand and tackle different dimensions of complexity in the current digital age. To do so, examples of traditional and emerging topics will be analyzed (i.e. knowledge creation, GVCs formation, reconfiguration and restructuring, and policy trends – especially in terms of sustainability and green and digital transition), illustrating how to tackle the conceptual and methodological challenges (and opportunities).

The Summer Schools targets Ph.D. students, postdocs and early career researchers.

The school promotes critical reasoning about the purpose of research methods and the possibilities to combine multiple methods to pursue rigorous, reliable and valid results.

Topics and themes to be addressed include:

  • Knowledge Creation across borders;  GVCs and Restructuration of value chains; policy trends in sustainability and digitalization
  • Multiplicity of entities, multiplexity of interaction, dynamism of the global business system
  • Multilevel Econometrics techniques for addressing complexity in IB; Qualitative Comparative analysis with BigData: Machine Learning & Deep Learning; Complex Network Analysis; Mixed-methodologies and triangulation for international policy evaluation
  • Research sustainability and ethics
  • Meet-the-editors session with insights tips on how to write the methodological session in a paper.

The School concludes with sessions organized as a conference, where participants can present their work in a conference-style session and discuss with leading scholars and editors of international journals.

The main course objectives are: 

  • To equip participants with innovative tools (in terms of theoretical approaches, theories, methods) for facing the complexity embedded in traditional and emerging topics in the digital age (new knowledge creation, GVCs formation and restructuring, new policy trends – especially in terms of sustainability and green and digital transition).  
  • To understand the challenges and opportunities provided by new vs. traditional research methodologies (quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods, i.e. Complex Network Analysis, Multilevel Analysis, Machine Learning and Deep Learning, Big Data and New Database, Qualitative Comparative Analysis).
  • To work in small groups to deliver a small piece of policy design and evaluation analysis in the context of sustainability and GVCs. 
  • To expose participants to leading scholars in the fields of international business, innovation and sustainability, and to help participants advance their own research projects.

The structure of the Summer school is the following: mornings will be dedicated to illustrating (and providing tools to address) complexities in the international context as fostered by the digital age; afternoons will be focused on practical experiences for participants facilitated by working in small groups; some team-building evening activities will be also organized to reinforce the liaisons among participants and fostering future collaborations within the community. As the event is organized only in presence, there will be many opportunities for networking between peers and senior scholars. We believe this is a crucially important aspect, especially after three years of online events due to COVID-19 (some PhD students have not had the opportunity yet to participate in any in presence event since the beginning of their PhD). 

Students could be awarded 5 ECTS credits upon the positive evaluation of coursework.


Local Organizing Committee:

Lucia Piscitello, Stefano Elia, Diletta Pegoraro, Tommaso Vallone, Cristina Di Stefano


Scientific Committee:

Lucia Piscitello, EIBA Chair, Politecnico di Milano

Bo Nielsen, University of Sydney and Copenhagen Business School

Catherine Welch, Trinity College Dublin



John Cantwell, Rutgers Business School, USA

Agnieszka Chidlow, University of Birmingham, UK

Marianna Marra, University of Sussex, UK

Silvia Massini, Alliance Manchester Business School (TBC)

Bo Nielsen, University of Sydney

Carlotta Orsenigo, Politecnico di Milano

Torben Pedersen, Bocconi University

Carlo Piccardi, Politecnico di Milano

Lucia Piscitello, Politecnico di Milano

Catherine Welch, Trinity College Dublin

(and others still to be confirmed)


Target and Selection of Participants:

The EIBA-EuSPRI Summer Schools targets Ph.D. students, postdocs and early career researchers. The number of students attending each course is limited to 30.

The school is especially addressed to doctoral students and young postdoctoral scholars.

The programme provides networking opportunities and allows developing global partnerships.


Practical Details:

How to apply

Prospective participants are required to send (by email to: diletta.pegoraro@polimi.it, and lucia.piscitello@polimi.it) a 1-page letter (pdf) organized as follows:

  • name, department/university, current position (PhD student, postdoc, other)
  • educational background
  • research activity and interests
  • motivations for participating in the School

Selection Criteria

The Organizing Committee will consider a number of features including: the coherence of the motivation with the aim and scope of the school, the potential benefit for the student’s research, the timeliness for the development of the student’s career.

Registration Fees

As the Summer school will be a joint event EIBA-EUSPRI, fees will be differentiated according to the following scheme:

  • member Eu-SPRI & member EIBA: Free
  • member Eu-SPRI & non member EIBA: 140€
  • non-members Eu-SPRI & member EIBA: 430€
  • non-members Eu-SPRI & non member EIBA: 550€


Accommodation costs for doctoral researchers and early career researchers from Eu-SPRI member organizations (https://euspri-forum.eu/member-organisations/) will be covered by the School (this includes 5 nights’ accommodation, lunch for 5 days, 1 dinner/social event and coffee breaks).

Some travel grants will be available for doctoral researchers and early career researchers from both EUSPRI and non Eu-SPRI member organizations. Please indicate in your application whether you want to apply for the travel grant.

Applications and Important Dates

  • Call for Application start: 14 February 2022
  • Application deadline: 14 April 2022
  • Notification of acceptance & registration start: 4 May 2022
  • Registration & payment deadline: 4 June 2022


For further information, please contact: diletta.pegoraro@polimi.it and lucia.piscitello@polimi.it