Collaborative Innovation

  Midstream Modulation Copyright: © Erik Fisher

Midstream Modulation of Research and Technology Development


Transdisciplinarity and integrative science and technology development

At the latest since the urban development project Stuttgart 21, it has become clear that classic procedures of acceptance research, which were even carried out according to plan in the run-up, are no longer sufficient. In a digital media democracy, such procedures do not manage to establish legitimacy for processes of change (here, more concretely: processes of technologization). Rather, new forms of participation are needed to involve interested stakeholders in the planning and shaping of these processes of change at an early stage. This is precisely what transdisciplinary and transformation approaches are intended to accomplish. In particular, different forms of real experiments and transdisciplinary research seem to be promising starting points. They can foster public participation, include local knowledge, and put heterogeneous needs on an equal footing. HumTec offers exactly such transdisciplinary research approaches in order to enable or significantly facilitate the transfer of the manifold research and development activities of RWTH Aachen University into the contexts of use through social science and humanities expertise.

Collaborative innovation refers to integrative science and technology development. This research approach is based on the conviction that every scientific and technological innovation always includes social innovations. Accordingly, it is not sufficient to merely focus on the design of research and technology; social considerations must also be included in the design phase. This is already relevant in early phases of the innovation process, in order to allow social perspectives of use or exploitation inform research and development trajectories. In-between the definition of research lines in funding programs (upstream) and the regulation of newly developed technologies (downstream), everyday research and innovation activities are carried out. The aim of collaborative innovation is to open up this midstream phase to reflexive engagement with the societal dimensions of technoscientific workflows (midstream modulation). In iterative feedback loops, science and technology development brings engineering, natural science and informatics research activities, on the one hand, with social science and humanities studies on the same research subject, on the other hand, into a fruitful dialogue in order to drive socio-technical innovation forward.

The field of activity “Collaborative Innovation” assembles a number of successful examples of such integrative science and technology developments and offers the appropriate platform to initiate and accompany further transdisciplinary research projects. These examples can be found on the project page of the field of activity.