Promoting systemic collaboration for sustainable innovation through intellectual property rights

Elsevier, Journal of Co-operative Organization and Management, Volume 11, June 2023
Siltaloppi J., Ballardini R.M.
Sustainability transitions call for new forms of collaboration supported by proper regulatory structures that enable multiple actors across sectoral boundaries to contribute to a system-level change towards more sustainable production and consumption practices. This paper integrates innovation research with intellectual property law to explore how such a systemic collaboration for sustainable innovation should be characterised, and how the intellectual property rights (IPR) system could be shaped to support it. First, we analyse existing research on open innovation and IPR and point to limitations in their applicability to systemic transitions for sustainability. Second, drawing on innovation ecosystems research, we outline a model of systemic collaboration for sustainable innovation, which highlights the co-specialisation of heterogeneous actors around system-specific alignment structures as the basis of the creation of system-level sustainability-improving solutions. Third, we analyse the limitations of the current IPR system vis-à-vis this type of systemic collaboration model and develop novel insights into how IPR could be shaped and leveraged to support systemic sustainable innovation.