UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources



Innovation is critical if the world is to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Research on innovation at ISR spans multiple domains (climate, energy, circular economy), and areas of innovation research – ranging from technology roadmapping to case studies on business model innovation.

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What we do

UCL ISR is an international centre for comparative eco-innovation research, spanning the levels of technologies industries, countries, the EU, and international approaches. We do rigorous data analysis, innovation systems analysis, impact assessments, network analysis, and are involved in participatory approaches. Our methodological advancements address new ways of evidence-oriented analysis, expert involvement, and learning tools.

Innovation is not only about the development of new technologies and business practices. The other side of innovation is the decline of obsolete technologies and skills. As the world shifts to a low-carbon energy system, there is an increasing need to understand the fate of declining industries. Within the INNOPATHS project, the UCL ISR team have been mapping the European regions with a high dependence on high-carbon industries that might be expected to decline over the coming decades. This effort helps policymakers proactively manage the potential intersections of existing patterns of regional inequality with vulnerabilities associated with declining high-carbon employment. This work was presented at the International Sustainability Transitions conference in Ottawa in June 2019.

Our work

2019 has seen the successful completion of the INNO4SD project, ongoing contributions to the UN Inter-Agency Task Team’s “Guidebook on Science, Technology and Innovation for SDGs roadmaps”, and significant progress in the INNOPATHS project. We have welcomed our Marie Curie Fellow Maria Rosa de Giacomo back from maternity leave, and seen substantial progress in the Green Innovation Policy Commission.

A collaboration with the Canadian Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI). Funded by the SPI’s Economics and Environmental Policy Research Network, the project will involve Will McDowall, Michal Miedzinski and Paul Ekins working with Professor James Meadowcroft at Carleton University to assess Canada’s policy mix for enabling sustainability transitions.

A major systematic review of literature on the drivers of energy innovation, led by Professor Michael Grubb, and involving ISR researchers Paul Drummond, Ali Poncia and Will McDowall – along with an international author team spanning France, the US, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.


Will McDowall
Associate Professor
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Paul Ekins
Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy
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Michael Grubb
Professor of Energy and Climate Change
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Maria Rosa De Giacomo
Marie Curie Research Fellow
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Michal Miedzinski
Senior Research Associate
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Paul Drummond
Senior Research Associate
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Photo credit: imaginima, iStockphoto