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UN-ECE Transformative Innovation Network (ETIN)

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What is ETIN?

The UN-ECE Transformative Innovation Network (ETIN) is a UNECE-coordinated strategic platform and meeting place for peer learning and a joint exploration of policies and practices for transformative innovation. Through evidence-based analyses and shared national and international experiences, ETIN aims to create additional value to its affiliated members in their effort to promote innovative processes in the UNECE region, ultimately increasing competitiveness and accelerating a societal transformation in line with Agenda 2030. 

For that purpose, ETIN activities are designed to facilitate:

  • evidence-based insight on critical aspects of transformative innovation;  
  • structured foresight on relevant trends affecting a future deployment of transformative innovation;  
  • continuous consultation among peers;  
  • extended collaboration between interested parties; and  
  • specific processes for co-creating policies and measures supporting transformative innovation.  



The project is a joint initiative between UNECE and the German Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation (SPRIN-D) and is funded by the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

Background information

Transformative innovation aims, through technologies, ideas, business models, and partnership arrangements, to bring about fundamental changes to the way we consume or produce, creating social value. This includes creating markets for unexploited demand, challenging existing assumptions and turning products into services through digitalisation and platforms. In doing so, it drives the overall sustainable transformation of our societies. Supporting transformative innovation has been and will be central to sustainable development as it can create new markets, boost productivity, address socioeconomic challenges, and, ultimately, fostering economic prosperity in UNECE states. Many countries show strong political ambition as seen by the creation of dedicated departments and agencies that are mandated to support transformative innovation.

However, transformative innovation is inherently unpredictable and requires appropriate incentive structures, performance measures and institutional frameworks and infrastructure to allow for experimentation around new, more radical and mostly more risky ideas. Finding a productive role for government support, therefore, inevitably involves a switch from planning and technology focus towards a system that allows for broad limited scale policy experimentation, the right kind of constraints, and continuous learning. In other words, transformative innovation in governance itself. 

Such challenges are at the center of concerns of all UNECE member States. Responding to clear need for concerted, structured dialogue, tools, and joint initiatives, this project has set up and aims to create momentum around the ETIN, bringing together policy makers, innovation agencies, researchers, think tanks, entrepreneurs and experts in the field of transformative innovation from the UNECE region to discuss, cooperate on, and develop tools and activities around the nature of, trends around, and the role of government to enable and promote broader and more systematic experimentation with ideas with potential to catalyze transformative innovation, including around societal challenges. 

What are ETIN's focus areas and activities?

Focus areas - ETIN work themes

Transformative innovation presents two elements that complement and add to more established ways of working with innovation. One concerns the policies and measures needed to develop adaptive and responsive ecosystems – involving citizens, addressees, clients, and users – that is ready to absorb and create synergies between different innovations. Another is to create supporting processes for strategic learning that support the beforementioned ecosystem development. Based on this, ETIN organizes various meetings, events and other research and capacity building activities around two broader work themes: 

  1. Assessing and strengthening the adaptive and responsive ecosystem development supporting transformative innovation.
  2. Strategic learning as a means to integrate innovation, experimentation and learning for transformative innovation, incorporating and considering past, present and future trends and developments. 

Under each of these work themes, ETIN is creating and developing dedicated workstreams, each led by its own task force, that look at specific elements and sub-topics of the respective work theme. Already established workstreams, include

Work theme 1

Ecosystem development for transformative innovation

Work theme 2

Strategic learning for transformative innovation

Workstream 1.1 - The potential of (digital) platforms in accelerating the circular economy transition Workstream 2.1 - The role of transformative innovation in supporting the green and digital transition of the Western Balkan region
Workstream 1.2 - Leveraging public procurement as a tool to facilitate the transformation for sustainable development Workstream 2.2 - The inner workings and concepts around strategic learning 
  Workstream 2.3 - Strategic learning in the context of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs
  Workstream 2.4 - Strategic learning and its role in climate negotiations


ETIN activities

Each work stream engages in a a range of (joint) events, meetings, research and capacity building activities, and podcast episodes of UNECE’s Innovation Circle and Innovation Matters Podcast on different topics.

ETIN's structure

ETIN represents a community of peers across public, private, and non-governmental stakeholders working in the field of transformative innovation for sustainable development. Members include government officials, leading international experts, researchers, industry practitioners, start-ups and entrepreneurs, international partners and other networks across the UNECE region. 

ETIN core group

The strategic direction(s) of ETIN activities are shaped, planned and executed by the ETIN core group consisting of up to fifteen rotating core members invited or elected to participate on a rotative basis with a limited term of one year.

The elected ETIN core group members for 2024 include: 

Name  Affiliation
Christoph Mönnigmann BMWK, Germany
Kjell Håkan Närfelt Chair of the UNECE Team of Specialists on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies (ToS-ICP)
Mikael Román ETIN project coordinator
Yevgenia Bikmurzina Innovation and Digital Development Agency, Azerbaijan
Joao Borga Compete 2030, Portugal 
Stefanie Engelhard Unleash Future Boats, Germany 
Bojana Femic-Radosavovic Innovation Fund, Montenegro 
Anna Förster SPRIN-D, Germany 
Alex Glennie Innovation Growth Lab, Nesta, UK 
Marina Planas The NTWK 
Bunyod Rakhmatullaev  National Office for Innovation Implementation and Technology Transfer, Uzbekistan
Victoria Shaw Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) 
Tatevik Soghomonyan Ministry of High-Tech Industry, Armenia 
Annie Vashakmadze Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, Georgia

March 2023 

  • ETIN Seminar: Platforms, circular economy, and transformative innovation, 3 March, hybrid, Palais des Nations, Geneva. The seminar brought together industry practitioners and leading experts to discuss and exchange experiences on the role the platform and circular economy play in driving innovation for green, digital and societal transformation, in line with UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More information is available here.


  • ETIN Policy Dialogue: Transformative innovation - policy objectives, promises and pitfalls, 7 and 14 March, online. Co-organized with Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, and Innovation Growth Lab of Nesta, the United Kingdom’s innovation agency for social good, the policy dialogue sessions examined and explored the different approaches to transformative innovation and its application and the role that the government can play within these dynamics. More information is available here


  • ETIN Innovation Days: International concerns and local entrepreneurship - exploring the links for seamless interaction for transformative innovation, 29-30 March, hybrid and in-person, Palais des Nations, Geneva. This event was organized at the margin of the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development 2023. Through a specifically designed agenda, and a process of mutual peer learning, this study tour helped advance ETIN members on the topic of strengthening the links between international and local transformative innovation stakeholders. Questions discussed included; How do we coordinate international initiatives with local activities? What are the specific policies and measures required to accelerate transformative innovation and entrepreneurial experimentation across geographical and institutional boundaries? More information is available here


September 2023

  • ETIN Technical Meeting: Role of transformative innovation in supporting the green and digital transition of the Western Balkan region, 21-22 September, hybrid, Pržno, Montenegro. Co-organized with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), this event brought together government officials, innovation agencies and leading experts on innovation with the aim to promote innovation-related collaboration among key stakeholders in the Western Balkans and the UNECE region and accelerate transformative innovation for sustainable development and economic growth, leveraging strategic learning and future-oriented thinking to anticipate and address upcoming challenges. The event is inspired by the success of the UNECE Sub-regional Innovation Policy Outlook (IPO), a UNECE flagship publication which provides a comprehensive assessment of innovation policies, identifying best practices and areas for improvement. 


November 2023

  • ETIN Side-event at the 15th session of the Team of Specialists on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies (ToS-ICP), 22-23 November, in-person, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Based on the outcomes of the ToS-ICP international policy dialogue, this side-event brought together ETIN members and leading experts to discuss, explore and exchange experiences in strategic learning and experimentation for transformative innovation. Identified good practices and policy recommendations will be reported to the UNECE Committee on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies in spring 2024 and also feed into future ETIN activities under work theme 2.

For any questions or additional information on how to become a member of ETIN, please contact: [email protected].

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