Surrounded by water and isolated from economies of scale, people on islands innovate within environmental limits to achieve great feats that mainlanders often take for granted. This is exactly the type of thinking and – most importantly – doing that is needed for sustainability: working within boundaries and using innovation to do more with less.
What role does governance play? We’ve seen too many examples of policies on islands hindering innovation that otherwise could have led to extraordinary projects. On the other hand, many successful projects are supported by a strong foundational policy that facilitates smooth and timely implementation. It is key that governments learn how to design, evaluate and adapt their innovation programs in a way that actually helps people pioneer their projects, whether that be product, system, service, or social innovation.
TIPPING was designed to raise awareness about the need for policy adaptations and to educate and train governments on how to become boosters of island innovation. Through the Islands of Innovation project, and together with stakeholders from eight partner regions, we developed an easy-to-use guide and tool. In Friesland, it has enabled us to assess where we are today with regards to supporting innovation, make goals about our desired future, and outline concrete steps on how to tip governance to achieve that future.
The tool is presented as a wheel, which focuses on eight key strategies: working with the creative sector, long-term cooperation with SMEs and NGOs, stimulating the young entrepreneurs’ network, fostering the import and export of knowledge, community involvement, crowd co-design, special institutional arrangements, and innovation policy fitness. Local and regional governments may focus on one or many strategies at once. The guide provides a step-by-step approach including fill-in material, workshop guidance, and practical examples from islands around the world.
Following its success in Friesland, many of our partner regions applied TIPPING. They developed tangible action plans on how to better support local projects in critical areas like energy transition, circular economy, youth retention through skilled employment, tech and connectivity, sustainable agriculture, tourism, mobility, and more. Through the TIPPING Approach, we’re facilitating local “dancefloors” as unorthodox starting points for unique joint innovation projects on islands.