Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

If you wish to cite this content please refer to:
Popper, R., Velasco, G., and Popper, M. (2017) CASI-F: Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation, CASI project report. Deliverable 6.2.

CASI-F tools and protocols

  • Since 2014, a total of 19 CASI project partners and 16 country correspondents covering all EU28 countries has been engaged in a rigorous and systematic environmental scanning process to identify sustainable innovations achieving or aiming for positive environmental, social and economic transformations in Europe and the world. More than 500 solutions were scanned and nominated between June and December 2014. The solutions included the following seven types of innovations (see Glossary):

    • Product innovation, i.e. new/improved goods or technology;
    • Service innovation, i.e. new/improved activity or process;
    • Social innovation, i.e. new/improved solution to a social problem;
    • Organisational innovation, i.e. new/improved practice, configuration or business model;
    • Governance innovation, i.e. new/improved regulation, policy or form of stakeholder engagement;
    • System innovation, i.e. new/improved set of interconnected innovations/socio-technical changes;
    • Marketing innovation, i.e. new/improved promotion or positioning of any kind of innovation.

    A panel of sustainability experts from within the CASI consortium reviewed and assessed all nominations in terms of their relevance to SC5. To further focus the selection of solutions to the needs of national and European policies in the area of public engagement and sustainability, a second assessment conducted independently by three CASI team members required a 1 to 5 scale rating of nominated innovations against the following five criteria: (1) Degree of public participation and mobilisation; (2) Degree of sustainability and cross-sectoral linkages; (3) Degree of multi-dimensional transformations; (4) Degree of deployment and diffusion; (5) Degree of novelty and originality. The results of this multi-criteria assessment were used to create a scoring system for the nominated solutions. To achieve EU-wide coverage, the six highest scoring innovations from each EU28 country were chosen (168 solutions) together with 34 other high-scoring innovations, including some international cases. Overall, a total of 202 innovations were selected and upgraded to a ‘deep dive’ assessment process, also known as fully-fledged mapping of sustainable innovation practices, outcomes and players.

  • The mapping of the selected SI focused on 3 ‘deep dive’ assessments using a total of 34 criteria

    • SI Practices assessment: This includes 21 criteria providing a panorama of the actual innovation, including both descriptive information and a detailed assessment of key objectives, origins, factors of success, barriers, drivers, tensions, funding and market potential, mobilisation degree, mutual learning processes, geographical and sectoral transferability and use of assessment methods.
    • SI Outcomes assessment: This includes nine criteria exploring both current and possible future outcomes of the innovation. The first two criteria focus on the degree and status of the innovation outcomes, followed by a structured assessment of strengths and weaknesses using nine sub-criteria (Novelty; Complexity; Protection of intellectual property rights (IPR); Timing; Robust and platform design; Rewriting the rules; Reconfiguration of production, distribution and consumption; Sectoral applicability; and Geographical replicability). This is followed by a forward-looking assessment of seven types of opportunities and threats (technological, economic, environmental, political, social, ethical and spatial). Additional outcomes such as new policies, spin-offs, publications, skills and competences are also mapped. Finally, the systemic sustainability criterion includes 44 sub-criteria assessing positive contributions to six sub-systems of the broader socio-technical system.
    • SI Players assessment: This included the mapping of role, type and contact details of innovators, funders and sponsors, supporters and brokers, as well as beneficiaries and users.

  • The nomination of 548 cases against the first 12 SI Practices assessment criteria and the mapping of 202 cases against all aforementioned 34 SI Practices, Outcomes and Players criteria generated a rich and unique database on the state of the art of sustainable innovation in Europe and the world, also known as CASIPEDIA and available online at

    The wealth of information about sustainable innovation in CASIPEDIA is far from fully analysed but, for the purpose of developing and piloting CASI-F, a ‘targeted’ assessment of CASIPEDIA data was chosen. Thus particular emphasis was given to the analysis of selected ‘critical issues’, i.e. key barriers, drivers, opportunities and threats that require further assessment and attention for management decisions. Some 1566 ‘critical issues’ were mapped against nominated and selected cases with the active participation and engagement of relevant stakeholders (especially the innovators, but also the funders and sponsors, supporters and brokers, and beneficiaries and users, who were given access and invited to contribute to the assessment of sustainable innovations in CASIPEDIA). Given the strategic importance and often confidential nature of the ‘critical issues’ related to a specific innovation, the mapping team, as well as the innovators, were also allowed to restrict access to sensitive issues. The final set of publicly available issues can be explored online in the CASI Ideas Bank at


    These issues were analysed following three complementary logics aiming to answer the following research questions:

    • What lessons can be learned from the analysis of critical issues using seven analytical dimensions or perspectives, namely technological, economic, environmental, political, social, ethical and spatial?
    • What type of actions are needed to deal with the positive and negative effects that such an extensive set of critical issues have on sustainable innovations?
    • What type of action management framework can be created based on a meta-analysis of the critical issues from an innovation system perspective?

    CASI-F multi-perspective logics in the analysis of critical issues

  • In addition to the multi-dimensional perspective, the same 1566 critical issues were analysed, based on their influence on the selected innovations, using a multi-stakeholder perspective. This helped us to arrive at an important managerial conclusion: Critical issues require a multi-level and multi-stakeholder actions-oriented approach.
    The main lesson from the analysis of the positive and negative effects that the critical issues identified had on the mapped innovations was that the actions to manage such an extensive set of barriers, drivers, opportunities and threats might need to be implemented by multiple actors with different managerial roles and responsibilities.

    CASI-F approach to multi-level and multi-stakeholder advice

    Similarly, the 202 SI cases studied in CASI helped us identify a wide range of critical issues, including not only barriers but also drivers, opportunities and threats, providing good examples of the kind of managerial situations where sound responses and solutions require multi-level (strategic, tactical and operational) and multi-stakeholder interventions.

  • The complexity of the multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach led us to another major managerial conclusion: Critical issues require a systemic SI management framework. Using an innovation systems perspective a meta-analysis of the 1566 critical issues helped to identify 10 SI management key aspects associated with 50 critical factors or meta-issues affecting the context, people, process and impact of SI management dimensions (see Table below).

    The success of a sustainable innovation depends greatly on its CONTEXT and 17 critical factors were mapped against its four dimensions: Momentum, reflecting the potential space for innovation, i.e. expectations of entrepreneurs and other actors, political drive from regulators or procurement, exemplars from other technological or social enterprises, and the perception of problems that call for solutions; Foresight, showing the capacity to anticipate, strategise and overcome gaps in the innovation curve; Resources, emphasising the need for healthy combinations of skills, finance, location, markets, etc.; and Mobilisation, including the capacity for action, as in public participation, community and institutional support, public-private partnerships, research and education engagement.

    The role of PEOPLE – especially government, business, civil society, and research and education actors – cannot be under-estimated. Many objectives remain unfulfilled when innovations fail to connect or mobilise the right people, or do not provide the right incentives or skills for key people. Some eight critical factors were clustered around two key aspects in the people dimension: Aptitude, referring to the actual skill-set or competences of people involved in the design, development, implementation and diffusion of a sustainable innovation; and Attitude, meaning the type of behaviour of the same people.

    Innovation is widely considered a complex, participatory and multifaceted PROCESS. As mentioned above, the analysis of critical issues confirmed the need for a multi-level and multi-stakeholder actions-oriented approach supporting the management of the innovation process. Given the multiple possibilities of clustering some 14 process-related critical factors, these have been grouped into two broader sets of key aspects: Catalysts, contributing to the initiation, development and implementation of the innovation; and Fosterers, including factors that further consolidate and diffuse the innovation.

    Finally, 11 critical factors were linked to the IMPACT dimension and grouped into two corresponding key aspects: (multi-agent) Transformation, meaning positive changes in the quadruple helix of SI and knowledge production; and (systemic) Sustainability, referring to changes in the socio-technical system where the SI operates that lead to positive environmental, social, economic, government and infrastructure transformations without compromising the needs and welfare of future generations.

    CASI-F approach to SI management dimensions and key aspects

CASI-F in action

CASI-F has been successfully applied to support the sustainability assessment and management of 43 innovations of the 7 different types: Social innovations (12 cases), Service innovations (11 cases), Organisational innovations (7 cases), Product innovations (5 cases), Governance innovations (4 cases), Marketing innovations (2 cases) and System innovations (2 cases). In terms of geographical scope, around 50% of the innovations were national, 30% local and 20% international. The most common sectors addressed by the innovations were education, energy, water, agriculture, ICT and health/social services. A dedicated SI Pilots web space ( has been created to feature these 43 SI cases in the CASI Portal; however, the growing interest that different stakeholders have in future applications of CASI-F means that additional cases will be implementing the full CASI-F methodology before and potentially after the end of the CASI project.
The application of CASI-F to assist sustainability assessment and management of these innovations helped to produce 46 action roadmaps:

  • 12 roadmaps for social innovations;
  • 11 roadmaps for service innovations;
  • 8 roadmaps for organisational innovations;
  • 6 roadmaps for product innovations;
  • 4 roadmaps for governance innovations;
  • 2 roadmaps for system innovations;
  • 4 roadmaps for marketing innovations.

The successful application of CASI-F proves that the framework is versatile enough to assist such wide-ranging types of SI. Furthermore, the CASI-F five-step approach can lead to comprehensive assessment of critical issues in Steps 1-3 and targeted management of prioritised critical issues in steps 4 and 5. The following example demonstrates the application of the CASI-F five-step approach to product innovation (see Deliverable 6.2 for examples of each of the 7 types of SI considered in the CASI project). Each example provides basic relevance assessment criteria (a full account of which can be found in the CASI portal, with examples of critical issues and action addressing one of the issues – prioritised by the innovator as most important and feasible – followed by an action roadmap fleshing out the implementation of the selected action.
The roadmaps clearly demonstrate how CASI-F can be used as a practical MML tool to support multi-level (strategic, tactical and operational) transition management towards a more sustainability-oriented socio-technical system.

  • This is an overview of the results of CASI-F applied to support the sustainability assessment and management of a product innovation. Below we outline the basic results from steps 1-3 of CASI-F.

    SI Assessment Box 1: CASI-F for ‘product innovation’ assessment: WAI (SP)

    Some eight critical issues were identified together with the innovator and the following SI Critical Issue ‘Limited capacity for international expansion’ (social barrier) was prioritised and considered for step 4 of CASI-F. Seven SI Management Actions were identified and the innovator prioritised the following action: ‘Increase staff innovation management skills and capabilities’ (strategic action). Finally, step 5 of CASI-F required the co-creation of an action roadmap for the prioritised action.

    SI Management Box 1: CASI-F for ‘product innovation’ management: WAI (SP)