What methods should be used to distinguish good innovation from the bad? Working at Nesta over the last few years, and engaging with a lot with innovation practitioners and academics, I’ve been surprised at the paucity of good answers. There is no shortage of approaches, some very impressive academic experts - Stilgoe, Callon, Wilsdon, Lövbrand, Stirling, Rayner, Hajer, Wynne, von Schomberg, to mention just a few - and some excellent overviews of the field, mainly focused on responsiveness and more open processes.
But the methods proposed are often hard to put into effect. This paper attempts to provide a possible framework that complements these. It recognises the inherent difficulties involved in assessing future possibilities, while arguing that intelligent judgements can guide allocations of money and the design of policies and regulations.