GEOINNO2020 reflections by Huong Thu Nguyen, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
There is a continuing interest in how innovation can create societal value beyond commercialisation and better align with societal needs, shaped not just by governmental organisations but also a wide range of other actors. This year conference reflected various players’ roles in innovation and regional development, including local and regional governments, universities and industry. I particularly enjoyed chairing a session of three papers presented by Raj Kumar Thapa, José Antonio Belso Martínez, and David Bole. These papers combined policy, corporate responsibility and academic-led participation in the framework of the issue of “Responsible innovation, social innovation and inclusive growth” (Session 1). It was interesting that all papers highlighted improving organisation capacity, including via NGOs, to identify, implement and improve local innovation practices.
Despite this diversity these discussions remained predominantly focused on the traditional actors of the “supply” side, and continued to obscure the grass-roots demand side of users and citizens. Stimulating meaningful contribution from (local) social partners is challenging, as I experienced in my research around the Quadruple Helix of innovation. There is an urgent need for better bringing these supply and demand sides into balance in our research, and I hope that this emerging field is prominent in Milan in 2022.