The TIPPING Approach and Wheel have been designed in the framework of the EU Interreg Islands of Innovation project. Its aim is to be used as a tool for improving innovation policy or governance. 

The TIPPING Wheel can be used for the assessment of an islands’ innovation policy aimed at: 
  • An overall benchmark between islands or parts of an island;
  • Comparison between the status quo and a desired future: ‘the dream’;
  • A challenge, sector, or aspect benchmark (energy, materials, water, transport, agriculture, circular economy, tourism, emerging technology sectors, etc.);
  • The creation of a basis and inspiration for a comprehensive new -or to be renewed- policy program with a special thematic focus and engaging-oriented projects;
  • Functioning as a supportive tool for policy innovation brainstorms.
Innovations in the wheel can be:

(a) realized ones to 

(b) starting projects 

(c) future dreams/ learn from on novel issues ambitions.

Many definitions of innovation do exist. They vary from specific technological novums to broad societal changes. Here we follow Celik (2018) and refer to innovation as a new social-cultural practice, including possible technical and economic changes, aimed at realizing one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN, 2017). The innovative practice can adopt various shapes, like a new technique or technical process, a new service, a new market, a new business, a new socio-technical system, or a combination of these concepts. With respect to the notion “policy” we assume a broad concept, better expressed by the notion “governance”, which stipulates the insight that usually government policies include/ require cooperation, sharing, and partnerships with other actors and stakeholders in society, such as industry, other governments, inhabitants, service users (various consumers), knowledge institutes, NGOs, etc. TIPPING as creative tool strives to contribute to governance innovation on islands and similar (more or less) isolated areas following the Islands of Innovation Model. This model has been developed to define the common issues and methodology for all partners in the EU Islands of Innovation project. It is to be used in regional action plan development. 

The figure above shows the Islands of Innovation Model used in the project, with the following elements: (1) the existing innovation ecosystem; (2) the TIPPING Wheel as a creative guiding tool to develop innovative policy strategy mixes, resulting in (3) a new, or improved innovation ecosystem or the “dance floor” where improved elements of innovation policy bring actors and stakeholders together, from where the new projects, products, business ideas, models and services may emerge. 

TIPPING finds its roots in the EU EFRD program: European Fund for Regional Development, which aims at the stimulation of innovation in peripherical European regions, to create new competences, business and jobs. The approach is aligned with the vision of Prof. Mariana Mazzucato, main advisor to the European Commission, acknowledging a crucial guiding role for governments in societal relevant innovation (Mazzucato, 2018). In the practice of local and regional governments this translates into avoiding ‘traditional innovation policies’, typically consisting of project hopping, picking winners, standard mixes of R&D funding and regulation/ legislation, as well as a sectoral and directive approach. Instead, ‘modern governance approaches’ involve a ‘dream’ or challenging mission, build up cumulative knowledge and learn and probe via a programmatic approach, engage with ‘willers’ and -via reflective practice- develop an evolving policy instrument mix and innovation infrastructure. 

With respect to the role of business, TIPPING builds on the theories and conceptual frameworks of open innovation (Chesbrough, 2006), effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001. Keskin, 2015), creative industry (Florida, 2012), and regional innovation (Boschma & Martin, 2010). 

This TIPPING Guide for facilitators follows a step-by-step approach, in which TIPPING Wheel workshops are the central elements. 


Follow these steps for the use of the TIPPING Wheel:
  1. Select the subject: municipality; region; branch; sector; issue; challenge; dream. Your Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS = Smart Specialization Strategy of a certain Region in the EU) analysis or similar analysis can be a good starting point for setting priorities = selection of challenges = formulation of a positive dream, which attracts support from stakeholders and population; 
  2. Plan preliminary interviews with the municipality and other local stakeholders; 
  3. Start a literature search that includes: official documents, web search, grey literature and informal sources; 
  4. If -extra- time and resources allow: compare the innovation ecosystem of your island with that of other islands, hold preliminary stakeholder meetings, gather good practices, and in the case of archipelagos, organize interregional learning sessions. Make a summary report of these -extra- activities. 
  5. Add your information to the 8 strategies of the TIPPING Wheel -see Chapter 4- as additional or specific benchmark options and/or questions/discussion issues; 
  6. Prepare the workshop with a team of selected Islands of Innovation facilitators; 
  7. Assess the level of innovation willingness of the municipality/region: if there is a basic level of willingness to get engaged in (1) open innovation with entrepreneurs;
    (2) instruments and projects’ probing and learning; and (3) a facilitating government role is observed, go on. If not, stop the TIPPING facilitating process here. 

Background report

Use this scheme to record the background information and sources:

Build a TIPPING Documents File per case/workshop item, including the results of the preliminary interviews and theliterature sources. Use the file as input for the workshop,either during your introduction presentation or during the group sessions. Prepare a presentation on Islands of Innovation and the TIPPING Approach.

The Tipping Wheel

The wheel contains eight main strategies, which can be used to create and add to the innovation policy mix on islands.

The existing or future policy mix options can also be a combination of the strategies used in the TIPPING Wheel. To work with the TIPPING Wheel, choose the ones that are most relevant to the context.