Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Regional Studies

For a Special Issue on

Cities and regions in transformation: transformative innovation policy in sub-national context

Abstract deadline
28 June 2024

Manuscript deadline
31 October 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Iryna Fil Kristensen, CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden and Örebro University, Sweden
[email protected]

Björn Asheim, University of Stavanger, Norway and CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden
[email protected]

Mireille Matt, UMR LISIS, Université Gustave EiNel, Paris, France
[email protected]

Mart Laatsit, CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden
[email protected]

Lasse Bundgaard, Austrian Institute of Technology, Vienna, Austria
[email protected]

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Cities and regions in transformation: transformative innovation policy in sub-national context

The recent emergence of the term ‘transformative innovation policy’ (TIP) has changed the rhetoric on and substance of innovation policy (McLaren & Kattel, 2022; Ghosh et al., 2021; Fagerberg, 2018; Schot & Steinmueller, 2018; Weber & Rohracher 2012). The ‘traditional’ focus of innovation policy on increasing economic growth and prosperity is expanding to embrace a new paradigm that promotes green regional development (Tödtling et al., 2020), sustainable inclusive growth through, e.g. S4+ (Moujaes, 2024), and socio-technical change for addressing grand challenges through innovation policy (Isaksen et al., 2022). These trends point out that, first, increasing directionality of innovative activities on a national level risks depriving innovation policy of democratic legitimacy necessary for 'adapting' the broad societal challenges to local framework conditions and promoting multi-scalar institutional arrangements (Weber & Rohracher, 2012; Wanzenböck & Frenken, 2020). Particularly cities, with their proximity to citizens, can engage in direction-setting and co-creation processes (Bulkeley et al., 2019). Secondly, addressing societal challenges has become increasingly important to regional innovation policy (e.g., Isaksen et al., 2022; Cappellano et al., 2022; Bugge et al., 2022), resulting in the necessity of policy re-orientation by embracing transformative and mission-oriented practices (e.g., Tödtling et al., 2022). Indeed, industrial policies and their potential role in tackling grand societal challenges through investment and innovation are gaining renowned research interest (see SI by Bailey, Pitelis & Tomlinson, 2023). Especially their manifestation in Smart Specialisation strategies, which are often regarded as a central mechanism to nurture new local transformative activities by supporting place-based innovative endeavours (see SI by Gianelle, Kyriakou, McCanna & Morgan, 2020).

However, whilst TIP ideas are gaining momentum in the mainstream innovation policy debates (Diercks et al., 2019; Schot & Steinmueller 2018; Edler & Fagerberg 2017), the literature fails to address the role of policy makers at the city and regional levels in promoting sustainable responses. Addressing the latter is important, because transformative changes are context sensitive and while local governments are best suited to translate ‘directions of change’ from the (supra)national to the local level, delegating more power to the regional level can be hampered by a lack of capabilities, networks, and institutional arrangements (Kristensen et al., 2023). To date, only a few studies have looked specifically at how transition processes play out on the ground and how resulting diversity of reform trajectories may be explained from a perspective of ‘place’/territory or territorial scale (Casula, 2022).

This call for papers aims to explore the link between national-regional-city-level innovation policies in tackling grand societal challenges, and the implications for regional policy.

Specifically, we are interested in papers that address the following themes:

  • Place-based initiatives for responding to societal challenges particularly at the city and regional level vis-à-vis the transformative innovation policy efforts at the national and supranational levels.
  • Institutional capacity and the role of key actors in TIP/IP at the sub-national level.
  • Multi-level governance and vertical policy integration in shaping TIP at the city and regional level.
  • Leadership and human agency in fostering sustainable transformation (broadly defined) on the regional and city level.

We invite submissions from researchers in the fields of geography, regional and innovation studies, public policy and related fields. Both theoretical and empirical submissions are welcome, as well as case studies from different regions/cities and contexts.


Brett, N., Magnusson, T., Andersson, H. (2023). From global climate goals to local practice – mission-oriented policy enactment in three Swedish regions. Science and Public Policy, 50 (4): 603-618.

Bugge, M. M., Andersen, A. D., & Steen, M. (2022). The role of regional innovation systems in mission-oriented innovation policy: exploring the problem-solution space in electrification of maritime transport. European Planning Studies, 30(11): 2312-2333.

Bulkeley, H., Marvin, S., Palgan, Y. V., McCormick, K., Breitfuss-Loidl, M., Mai, L., ... & Frantzeskaki, N. (2019). Urban living laboratories: Conducting the experimental city?. European urban and regional studies, 26(4): 317-335.

Cappellano, F., Sohn, C., Makkonen, T., & Kaisto, V. (2022). Bringing borders back into crossborder regional innovation systems: Functions and dynamics. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 54(5), 1005-1021.

Casula, M. (2022). Implementing the transformative innovation policy in the European Union: how does transformative change occur in Member States? European Planning Studies, 1-27.

Diercks, G., Larsen, H., Steward, F. (2019). Transformative innovation policy: Addressing variety in an emerging policy paradigm. Res. Policy, 48: 880–894.

Edler, J., & Fagerberg, J. (2017). Innovation policy: what, why, and how. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 33(1): 2-23.

Fagerberg, J. (2018). Mobilizing innovation for sustainability transitions: A comment on transformative innovation policy. Research Policy, 47(9): 1568-1576.

Ghosh, B., Kivimaa, P., Ramirez, M., Schot, J., & Torrens, J. (2021). Transformative outcomes: assessing and reorienting experimentation with transformative innovation policy. Science and Public Policy, 48(5): 739-756.

Isaksen, A., Trippl. M. & Mayer, H. (2022) Regional innovation systems in an era of grand societal challenges: reorientation versus transformation, European Planning Studies, 30(11): 2125- 2138, DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2022.2084226

Kristensen, I., Pugh, R., & Grillitsch, M. (2023). Leadership and governance challenges in delivering place-based transformation through Smart Specialisation. Regional Studies, 57(1): 196-208.

McLaren, J., & Kattel, R. (2022). Policy capacities for transformative innovation policy: A case study of UK Research and Innovation. UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2020-04).

Moujaes, G. (2024). Moving to Smart Specialization for sustainability: the implications on the design of monitoring indicators, Science and Public Policy, 51 (1): 127- 143,

Schot, J., & Steinmueller, W. E. (2018). Three frames for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change. Research policy, 47(9): 1554-1567.

Tödtling, F., Trippl, M., Frangenheim, A. (2020). Policy options for green regional development: Adopting a production and application perspective, Science and Public Policy, 47( 6): 865– 875,

Wanzenböck, I., & Frenken, K. (2020). The subsidiarity principle in innovation policy for societal challenges. Global Transitions, 2: 51-59.

Weber, K.M., Rohracher, H. (2012). Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change: Combining insights from innovation systems and multi-level perspective in a comprehensive “failures” framework. Res. Policy 41: 1037–1047.

Submission Instructions

Authors interested in publishing in the Special Issue should email an abstract of about 500 words to [email protected] by the 28th of June 2024, and after the first screening, the decision on abstract acceptance will be released by 23rd of August 2024.

Full Manuscripts should be received by 31st of October 2024 for review, and should be submitted via the journal's online submission system. Please select the Special Issue title on submission.

All submissions are subject to the journal’s usual, full peer review process.

An in-person workshop (with an option for online participation) will be hosted by one of the co-guest editors’ institutions. This event will target primarily those authors whose papers received ‘revise and resubmit’ decision in the first round of review. The main objective of this event is to provide an opportunity for authors to present and comment on each other’s papers and for guest editors to ensure overall coherence of the Special Issue. It should be noted, however, that invitations to the workshop cannot guarantee paper’s acceptance to the Special Issue.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article