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“Innovation commons” as a tool to accelerate sustainable mobility in Canada: Transport “hubs” as multistakeholder innovation ecosystems

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About the project

At the current moment, mobility appears to be one of the biggest challenges to building a more sustainable social and economic model. Mobility plays a number of key roles, including in economic and human development, and its complex, systematic nature requires new forms of innovation management.

This synthesis reinterprets innovation management models, proposing an “ecosystem” innovation approach focused on “commons,” knowledge bases where multiple stakeholders, including users and the general public, share, explore and experiment, and which could increase instances of innovation and improve results for more sustainable mobility.

The example of Movin’on, which was initially a Michelin project and now brings together over 300 private and public organizations from different countries, is highly illustrative of how knowledge ecosystems for sustainable mobility innovation develop. Our study and analysis of this case provided helpful insight into these new forms of innovative organization and their issues.

Road and air transportation are the two modes that have increased the most since mobility issues rose to public consciousness, which is why we chose to focus on innovation management models of transport hubs, especially airports, which act as “nodes” in mobility networks.

Key findings

This synthesis shows that innovation models would benefit from a more open and collective redesign. Such a model would have accessible knowledge bases that are enriched by a variety of contributions and experiments from multiple stakeholders, including users and the general public, in order to explore new ways to make mobility more sustainable.

  • Sustainable mobility is too complex an issue to be addressed by any one actor. They require a collective and collaborative approach to innovation that mobilizes multiple stakeholders within an innovation ecosystem.
  • To unlock the full potential of an innovation ecosystem, knowledge should be seen as a “commons,” with resources that are shared and accessible to diverse stakeholders. Their interaction guides and supports sustainable mobility innovation.
  • Although some initiatives to this effect have been launched at transport hubs, such as airports, they must be strengthened and supported if they are to achieve their full potential. In particular, it is necessary to identify existing examples and best practices of open, collaborative innovation.
  • Transport hubs have a dual role to play when it comes to public policy, organizations and research. The first role is that of observatory, collecting data, analyzing mobility flows and practices and their environmental impacts and monitoring sustainable mobility innovation strategies and technologies. The second role is that of laboratory, a place for hands‑on experimentation where innovative projects are put to the test.
  • Public actors have a major role to play in funding, supporting and developing transport hubs, whether public or private. The public sector could play a key role, either directly or through indirect influence, in mobilizing capacity for innovation:
    • Conditions could be placed on public funding to require the sharing of knowledge useful for sustainable mobility innovation, such as data on traffic, noise impacts and the quality of life of neighbouring residents, CO2 and particle emissions, and the experiences of users and passengers.
    • Public institutions could support open, collaborative innovation initiatives like innovation labs, database sharing, monitoring and ideation platforms, incubators and accelerators, and idea challenges and hackathons, and they should guarantee access to researchers, entrepreneurs, stakeholders, users and the general public.

Policy implications

This synthesis identifies four major fields of research that require more in‑depth study to be supported by public policy:

  • Innovation ecosystems that are increasingly relying on input from a variety of corporate, public and institutional stakeholders, as well as volunteers, activists and citizens.
  • Innovation ecosystem design and multistakeholder coordination that takes complex social issues into account (in‑depth discussion is also needed to understand which incentives would encourage various stakeholders to commit and contribute to an innovation ecosystem).
  • “Multiple commons” and “innovation commons” within innovation ecosystems and open, collaborative innovation initiatives, which give new insights into which institutional mechanisms support the creation of further entrepreneurial initiatives and innovative projects that hybridize input from multiple heterogenous stakeholders.
  • Shared ownership rights models and contribution/compensation models in innovation initiatives involving multiple stakeholders.

Further information

Read the full report (in French)

Contact the researchers

Laurent Simon, full professor, department of entrepreneurship and innovation; and co‑director, Mosaic, HEC Montréal: laurent.simon@hec.ca

The views expressed in this evidence brief are those of the authors and not those of SSHRC, Infrastructure Canada or the Government of Canada.

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