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Measuring and Modeling Dynamics in Innovation Systems

Organizing institution
Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences (UU)
Course code
Course fee (incl. housing)
€ 650
PhD level

This course offers an introduction to analyzing innovation systems dynamics, and to analyzing the different components that make-up the innovation system. It provides a set of tools to scientifically measure and model dynamics in each component of the innovation system and the system as a whole.

The most important insight that has dominated the field of innovation studies in recent decades is the fact that innovation is a collective activity. It takes place within the context of a wider system. This wider system is coined ‘the innovation system’ or ‘the innovation ecosystem’. The success of innovation trajectories is to a large extent determined by how the innovation system is built up and how it functions.
The concept of the innovation system stresses that the flow of knowledge between people, firms and other organizations is key to innovation It stresses the interaction between actors in order to turn an idea into a successful process, product or service in the marketplace.
Arguably, many innovation systems are characterized by flaws that hamper the development and diffusion of innovations. These flaws are often labeled as system failures or system problems. Intelligent and evidence based innovation policy, therefore, evaluates how innovation systems are functioning, attempts to create insight into the system’s problems and develops policies and strategies accordingly.
Over the last decades the innovation system concept has attracted scholarly attention and has become a widely accepted starting point in understanding the innovation process. More recently emphasis was placed on understanding the dynamics of innovation systems.
Many studies on the topic have limited themselves to a descriptive understanding of the innovation system. The idea is that an innovation system consists of multiple interacting components, such as firms who supply innovations, the demand for innovation, knowledge infrastructure, and institutions that support or hamper innovation. The interaction between the components is central in innovation studies. For example, the supply side is often conceptualized as to create variety in technology, while the demand side acts as a selector of new technologies.
Each of these components has been studied by different scientific disciplines and traditions. The supply side, for example, is studied extensively by scholars in management, organization studies, and industrial economics. The demand side is largely dominated by scholars in marketing and consumer psychology. Therefore, understanding the innovation system as a dynamic whole is a multi-disciplinary effort in which engineering knowledge about technologies is combined with a range of disciplinary social science approaches. For this reason studying innovation system dynamics is challenging.

This course offers an introduction to analyzing innovation systems dynamics, and to analyzing the different components that make-up the innovation system. It provides a set of tools to scientifically measure and model dynamics in each component of the innovation system and the system as a whole.

The goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of the most important theories and methods to study the innovation system. Further, students will use these to explain dynamics in innovation systems, thus enriching their theoretical basis. The course contributes to formulating theoretical explanations for findings on a system level, and it prevents ‘rediscovering’ phenomena that are already known within the disciplinary traditions. Finally, it enriches insights about the effects of systemic policy instruments on different components of the innovation systems.


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Prof. Dr. Marko Hekkert (chair) Dr. Frank van Rijnsoever (coordinator) Dr. Gaston Heimeriks


The primary target audience consists of academic researchers in the early stages of their career, such as PhD students (primarily 2st and 3nd year), junior researchers or researchers that recently received their PhD, but that are new to the field. Further, we are open to receiving a limited number of non-academic researchers that are interested in the topic. In total we hope to welcome 30 participants.

Applicants are requested to send in their CV and a short letter of motivation. We will not select applicants only on their scientific track record, but also on their potential to learn from the course. Applicants coming from an institution that is an EU-SPRI member have priority over applicants from non-EU-SPRI members.

The call for application opens in February 2015 and will close at the beginning of May 2015. Notification of acceptance will be given soon after this deadline. The deadline may be extended when there are places left.


After the course participants have accomplished the following objectives. They:
• Become acquainted with the use of models in the social sciences.
• Become acquainted with theories about dynamics in the innovation system as whole and dominant theories on its separate components.
• Are able to apply these theories to explain specific innovation problems they encounter in their own research projects.
• Have an overview of possibilities to test theories by measuring and modeling empirical data.
• Are able to interpret the outcomes of these models in terms of theory and policy.

More concretely this means that after the course have learned a number of skills:
• Students have a broad understanding of theories in different components of the innovation systems. This enables them to combine insights from different traditions into new research ideas. Further, being aware of different theories is helpful for future collaboration with other scientists.
• Students are able to read, understand and critically assess scientific studies that are conducted in the field of innovation systems.
• Students have a basic level of knowledge that allows them expand their knowledge on the topic by themselves or though other courses.


The duration of the course is five full days. Participants receive a certificate after they actively participated in the course. There is a possibility to reward the course with credits (about 3 ECTS).

The two main work forms are interactive lectures and computer labs. Participants are requested to bring their own laptop, with pre-prescribed software. Additional software will be made available by the host organization. This enables flexibility in shifting between work forms. Wireless LAN will be available in the lecture room. All course materials will be made available online for participants.

The lectures will be of an interactive nature, with discussion of between participants and the lecturer. The computer labs consist of plenary introductions and a number of assignments that participants have to complete based on existing data. Actively working with data ensures that students are better able to grasp the content of the lectures and gives an understanding how empirical data is treated in each discipline. Possible Example types of data are: citation data (for example from Scopus or Web of Science), consumer data, firm data (for example the community innovation survey) and data about innovation project subsidies. During the course students also get the opportunity to present their own project (proposals) and receive feedback from experienced ISG staff members and fellow PhD students.

During the course there is room for participants to ask questions they have about their own projects, or to schedule a personal meeting with an ISG member to further discuss own projects. In the evening participants are expected to work on the assignment in their own time if they didn’t finish in time. The next morning the assignments are discussed. Each course day begins a 9.00 and ends at 17.15, and has four blocks of teaching. In between the blocks there are coffee and lunch breaks.

On Monday welcome drinks are organized, on Thursday there will be a farewell dinner. On the other two evenings meals will be provided. During three evenings a short lecture will be given. Further, the organizers will inform the participants about possible social activities.


• € 650 - Course + course materials + housing
• € 450 - Course + course materials

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Utrecht Summer School doesn't offer scholarships for this course.


Mirjam van Deutekom
E: international.geo@uu.nl

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Deadline for registration: 01 June 2017