The sustainability challenge requires various forms of experimentation with inventions, which may lead to an upscaling process in which the invention and its applications will spread to other users and regions in the world. However, many experiments fail. In this paper, we explore the success factors for sustainability experiments in their contribution to a longer-term regime change. These factors are related to the experiment itself as well as to the habitat in which the experiment takes place. A habitat is regarded as a configuration of contextual factors, which are mainly locally or regionally embedded. We introduce complementary insights from transition management literature and regional innovation systems literature to hypothesise that various types of experiments have distinctive favourite habitats, each with their specific success factors. Our exploratory survey among 56 sustainability experiments throughout Europe in the area of food, mobility and energy innovation suggests that user involvement is the most important success factor. Other important factors are the cooperation in local and regional networks, the policy instruments from the local and regional government, the dissemination of learning experiences, and the existence of a local or regional vision of the future. We conclude that entrepreneurs, users, local and regional governments as well as other regional partners should collaborate actively to make sustainability experiments more successful.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Experimentation, Regional innovation, Sustainability, Transitions, Upscaling
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.177, hdl.handle.net/1765/100755
Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
Citation
van den Heiligenberg, H.A.R.M. (Harm A.R.M.), Heimeriks, G.J. (Gaston J.), Hekkert, M.P, & van Oort, F.G. (2017). A habitat for sustainability experiments: Success factors for innovations in their local and regional contexts. Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.177