Call for tracks

The 2021 Annual Conference of the Eu-SPRI Forum marks its 10th anniversary. It represents an opportunity to take a step back and discuss what we can learn from the past and how our frameworks and findings find their way into policies and practice. This is a key goal of the 2021 event in Oslo.

We would like to invite you to submit track proposals for the 2021 conference: “Science and innovation – an uneasy relationship? Rethinking the roles and relations of STI policies”. The Conference is organized by the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK) at the University of Oslo and the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) with the research centres R-QUEST, OSIRIS and INTRANSIT as co-organizers.


A couple of decades ago, the concepts of science and innovation became steady partners, especially in policy. Countries, regions and the EU developed policies and support instruments for scienceĀ andĀ innovation – indicating that there is a close relationship between these two activities and therefore also policy areas.

The Eu-SPRI conference invites participants to engage in a more critical and reflexive discussion of the link between science and innovation. What are the problems of seeing science and innovation as two sides of the same coin? Is the merger of the two policy areas in some cases a barrier to solving societal challenges as much as it represents a solution? When it is helpful to look at science together with innovation, and when do we need to keep tham apart? Such questions are not just important for society, but also for developing the community interested in science and innovation policy studies.

The conference organizers have formulated three main themes that function as a starting point for the exploration of the link between science and innovation:

Addressing the role of research and innovation in times of crises

Science and innovation policies in crisis situations are of great current interest due to the corona situation. Severe health, economic and other effects of the epidemic are likely to influence science and innovation activities in deep ways. Is there a joint undertaking for science and innovation beyond covering instrumental needs like vaccines? With more work-from-home and travel limitations, what happens to big science and international projects? Does digitalization of work lead to more open or more vulnerable innovation practices, and how can policymakers best support innovators in this situation? What have we learned from earlier crises and their science and innovation policies? Can something be done to develop temporal issues of science and innovation policies like a “sense of urgency” and a “window of opportunity”?

Impact, excellence and beyond: Reframing the science-society relationship

A major framing of contemporary science policy is that research activities should lead to societal impacts – and impacts should be outlined ex ante and evaluated ex post. But how do we understand the notion of impact; what is the relationship between direct and indirect forms of impact; and whether and how can they be measured? Efforts to strengthen and demonstrate impact may also require discussions about the relationship between impact and innovation. Is innovation an impact or should we also study impacts of innovation? To what extent do impacts from research emerge in the form of innovations and innovation processes? What are the opportunities and limitations in planning something that by definition is new, unpredictable and long-lasting? Seen from the societal side, what are the research practices that are most important?

Furthemore, there is a persistent emphasis on excellence in research, combined with an assumption of a positive correlation between scientific and societal impact and demands for advice on how to best allocate limited public science budgets. How can our scholarly community better address these demands, as well as providing (self)reflection on the processes which create them? What is the role of policy in identifying and fostering excellence and world-leading groups, and what is the impact of these policies? More specifically, what is the impact of research evaluation regimes/performance-based funding on the content, practises and quality of science? Are policies for research excellence and societal impact in conflict? If so, in which ways? Can we develop better frames for communicating with policymakers on these matters?

Technology push or societal change – the widening scope of STI policies in sustainability transitions

How can science and innovation enable transformations towards more sustainable economies and societies? Research and innovation policies are among the most frequently used tools to support transformation processes, related to a basic idea about the need to develop radical new technologies to deal with grand challenges, such as the energy transition. However, recently research and innovation policies have begun to address that sustainability transitions require more than new technologies. In addition, there is also a need to address changes in consumption patterns, behaviors and preferences, and how societal functions are carried out. This shift towards a more encompassing view of sustainability transitions creates a challenge for research and innovation policy approaches. This change actualizes debate about the scope of innovation policy for grand challenges and even more, a critical reflection on the relationship between science and innovation and also the role they play for societal transformation.



The call for tracks is now open and we encourage submission of proposals for tracks that relates to one (or several) of these main themes. Submission of track proposals should be about 500 words, and if possible, include a list of interested contributors (not required).

Different formats are available for the tracks. Paper tracks with well-developed papers, speed talks for work in an early stage and roundtables for shorter sessions with a coherent theme.


Track proposal should be sent to:


We are planning for a physical conference, but depending to the development of the Corona pandemic, we are prepared to change to alternative conference formats.

Important dates

  • Opening call for tracks 3 November 2020
  • Closing call for tracks 15 December 2020
  • Opening of paper submission January 2021
  • Deadline for paper submission 25 February 2021
  • Announcement of selected paper March 2021
  • Conference 9-11 June 2021