Human-centered innovation ecosystems: the role of policies and institutions in times of multiple crises

Submission Deadline Extended: 30th September 2023

The ability to innovate has long been at the top of the agenda of businesses and governments. However, the emphasis has often been on efficiency and productivity that new technologies are able to foster. The crises we have been facing in recent years show that this approach is reductive: we risk neglecting important aspects of the human condition such as health, environmental sustainability, personal safety and happiness. Innovation ecosystem have been recognized as the locus of innovation. Consequently, there is a need to understand how human-centered innovation ecosystems can be developed.

This special issue intends to animate the debate on the concept of innovation ecosystems, highlighting how these can be put at the service of man as a whole and what the role of governments in this process can be. To achieve this goal, the special issue aims to collect timely and relevant contributions on the topic. The special issue will stimulate research in this area, helping to increase our knowledge of a phenomenon that has a great impact on the way in which the ongoing crises will be overcome.

Although the literature on innovation ecosystems is constantly growing, to our knowledge this is the first special issue that focuses on human-centered innovation ecosystems and on the role of governments have in fostering their development.

Innovation is key in view of facing the challenge inherent a period of crisis and transformation such as the one we are facing (Chesbrough, 2020). Rapidly changing technology, business models and social behavior are essential to overcome the multifaceted implication of the Covid-19 pandemic, of the war in Ukraine and of mounting the energy crisis (Brem et al. 2021; Corvello et al. 2022). The discipline of innovation management, traditionally associated with the management of structured processes in large firms, has recently developed as to overlap with the discipline of entrepreneurship (Lee and Trimi, 2021; Troise et al. 2022). That is, large firms and start-ups are increasingly seen as actors that collaborate and compete through emerging and traditional industries forming innovation ecosystems that are becoming the locus of innovation (Kuckertz et al. 2020). However, it has recently been highlighted how an excessive focus on technology can be counterproductive and how, instead, aspects related to the human being must always remain central. Innovative efforts should be geared towards improvements in the overall condition of society and individuals (Nahavandi, 2019). In line with the concept of Industry 5.0, defined as the effort of specifically putting research and innovation at the service of the transition to a sustainable, human-centric and resilient industry (European Commission, 2022), there is a need to overcome the functionalist perspective that focuses on technical efficiency and to put man once again at the center of researchers' reflection. Goverments are trying to support the development of such ecosystems in various ways.

Indicative list of themes and key features of the Special Issue:

  • Industry 5.0
  • Innovation 5.0.
  • Human-centered innovation ecosystems
  • Resilient ecosystems
  • Innovation processes in times of crisis
  • Innovation to overcome the energy crisis
  • Differences between the Innovation 5.0 paradigm and the previous approaches
  • Regulatory frameworks and public policy tools and approaches and the question of stimulating/facilitating the transition to Industry 5.0.
  • Case studies
  • Regional (EU, US, ASEAN) developments
  • Open innovation
  • Start-ups.

Submissions Deadline

30th September 2023


Brem, A., Viardot, E., & Nylund, P. A. (2021). Implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak for innovation: Which technologies will improve our lives? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 163 doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2020.120451

Chesbrough, H. (2020). To recover faster from covid-19, open up: Managerial implications from an open innovation perspective. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 410-413. doi:10.1016/j.indmarman.2020.04.010

Corvello, V., Verteramo, S., Nocella, I., & Ammirato, S. (2022a). Thrive during a crisis: The role of digital technologies in fostering antifragility in small and medium-sized enterprises. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, doi:10.1007/s12652-022-03816-x

European Commission (2022) Industry 5.0,

Kuckertz, A., Brändle, L., Gaudig, A., Hinderer, S., Morales Reyes, C. A., Prochotta, A., . . . Berger, E. S. C. (2020). Startups in times of crisis – A rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.