The present report is part of a Master level course taught at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management in Delft University of Technology. The course, Engineering for Sustainable Development, has the objective of improving the students’ capabilities to contribute to sustainability. We learn about sustainable development by conducting research about Texel as a sustainable island and preparing a report for our “clients”; the municipality of Texel and the local entrepreneurs supporting the project.
In addition to the learning process and products, our goal is to design Sustainable Texel as a socio-technical system and to investigate what would be required for the island to transition. From the nine sub-systems in which the challenge was divided, our group deals with Permanently Innovate. Based on our initial literature review, we defined the notion of Permanently Innovate in the following way:
First, a Permanently innovate subsystem would be a network of actors, including organizations and institutions that initiate, develop, import, modify, disseminate and implement innovations.
Second, a Permanently innovate subsystem would differ from a regular system of innovation because it would not only strive for the transition of one or two technologies only in a certain moment in time. On the contrary, it would aim for a change in the institutions, particularly informal ones, that would modify tacit patterns of behavior, social routine, visions and cognitive notions through which individuals and collectivities make meaning or sense out of the world. The new (in)formal institutions would enable the continuous emergence of successful systems of innovation. This means that the networks of agents would have to be dynamic: new agents and roles would come in and out of those networks and new roles will be created as required.
Third, successful systems of innovations would be defined as those that perform all seven functions described by Hekkert and Negro (2009). Thus, the sub-system would have entrepreneurial activities, knowledge development, knowledge diffusion through networks, guidance of the search, market formation, resource mobilization and creation of legitimacy.
Finally, a Permanently innovate subsystem would have deep implications for socio-technical systems. It would change the system in such a way that new, relevant and proper technologies would be either accepted or would change the systems regime. This new attitude towards change would require new rules and regulations to negotiate those changes between the actors. Thus, Permanently innovate would demand deep and structural changes in the entire socio-technical system.