Shaping factors in the emergence of technological innovations: The case of tidal kite technology
Journal article, 2018
The technological innovation systems (TIS) literature offers a detailed and dynamic understanding of factors that enable successful innovation. However, few studies analyze what determines where in space value chain elements are developed as a new technology is diffused on a large scale. The purpose of this paper is to show how the TIS approach can be used to identify and analyze factors that shape spatial trajectories of emerging technologies. It proposes an adapted analytical framework that expands the conventional focus on one-dimensional supporting and blocking factors, to shaping factors that incorporate the spatiality of innovation. The approach is illustrated by examining innovation in tidal kite technology. The analysis finds that a supportive local context in western Sweden during the infancy of tidal kite technology, together with the availability of competent engineers and business development professionals, promoted the formation of locally embedded knowledge and competence. This in turn created a spatial path dependency that made developments gravitate towards Sweden, although the lack of domestic markets has also increasingly driven an expansion of activity to other regions, in particular the UK. Moreover, the analysis shows that shaping, and not only stimulating, the growth of emerging TIS is an important challenge for regional policymakers, and highlights the need for international policy coordination. The paper concludes that analyzing shaping factors in the emergence of new TISs can yield important insights, some of which may be overlooked with a narrow analytical focus on supporting and blocking factors.
Tidal kite technology
Technological innovation systems