Ashlee-Ann Pigford, Gordon Hickey & Laurens Klerkx

Over the past decade, the Canadian Arctic has seen an intensification of scientific research designed to foster innovation (i.e., the process of transforming ideas into new products, services, practices or policies). However, innovation remains generally low. This paper argues that before we can meaningfully promote innovation in the Arctic, there is a need to first identify the complex systems that support or inhibit innovation. Few, if any studies have taken a systems approach to enrich our understanding of how existing networks may or may not support innovation in the Canadian Arctic. A promising, but under-explored approach is to consider innovation ecosystems, defined as the multi-level, multi-modal, multi-nodal and multi-agent system of systems that shape the way that societies generate, exchange, and use knowledge. This paper presents innovation (eco)systems as a potentially valuable systems-based approach for policy actors to enhance innovation linkages in the Arctic. From a policy perspective, there is a need to embrace and promote more networked approaches to co-create public value and to consider the lifespan of any innovation. Potential directions for future research include: mapping the actors involved in Arctic innovation ecosystems (including intermediaries and bridging agents) at multiple scales; the role that formal and informal institutions play in shaping co-innovation; case studies to evaluate innovation processes; and an assessment of the coupled functional-structural aspects that influence innovation outcomes in the Canadian Arctic.

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