Technical Innovation Systems
Faculty of Geosciences Utrecht University
  • Why do some technological innovations become successful and others fail?

  • How can we increase the chances of success of technological innovations?

  • How can we identify the bottlenecks in the diffusion of a technological innovation?

Technological Innovation System

This site introduces the Technological Innovation System approach that helps researchers, policy makers and managers to understand and improve the functioning of technological innovations.

Innovation System

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 innovations is to a large extent determined by how the innovation system is build up and how it functions. The concept of the innovation system stresses that the flow of technology and information among people, enterprises and institutions is key to an innovative process. It stresses the interaction between actors who are needed in order to turn an idea into a successful process, product or service in the marketplace.

Identify the system failures

Identify the system failures Many innovation systems are characterized by some flaws that greatly hamper the development and diffusion of innovations. These flaws are often labelled as system failures or system problems. Intelligent and evidence based innovation policy therefore evaluates how innovation systems are functioning, tries to create insight in the system problems and develops policies and strategies accordingly.

Utrecht University

The Technological Innovation System approach as developed by Utrecht University in cooperation with other European institutes like Chalmers University in Sweden and EAWAG in Switzerland. Technological Innovation System is a concept developed within the context of the Innovation System approach focusing on explaining the nature and rate of technological change. The purpose of analysing a Technological Innovation System is to analyse and evaluate the development of a particular technological field in terms of the structures and processes that support or hamper it. The basic steps that are taken are the following:


First, we analyze the structure of the innovation system. These are the actors and rules that make up the system. Second, we analyze how the system is functioning. We introduce seven system functions that stem from theory and are empirically validated as indicators. We analyze each function, but also the interaction between the functions. Finally, after we have established at what state of development a technological innovation system is, we analyze the system problems that block the well functioning of the innovation system.