ECN publication
Experiences with Socrobust at ECN. Micro combined heat and power generators and fuel cell vehicles
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-3-2003
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--03-023 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
47 Download PDF  

The Socrobust methodology has been designed in the European Socrobustproject to assess the potential for socio economic success of a particular set of projects defined as radical or architec-tural innovations involving technological discontinuities and breakthrough products or services. This type of innovation can in general not be managed as continuous ?conventional? innova-tions. In evaluation literature e.g. (Cooper, 2000) three core principles for the management of architectural innovations are highlighted. These core principles are the need for anticipating the future world, the need for consistency with the present situation as so to define a development path and the requirement of dynamic adaptation. From these core principles Socrobust has been derived. This study reports the experiences with the application of Socrobust to two possible breakthrough innovations of the ECN unit Clean Fossil Fuels: micro combined heat and power generators (micro-CHPs) and fuel cell vehicles.
The following aspects of the development of the micro combined heat and power generator and fuel cell vehicles R&D programmes have been assessed by means of the Socrobust methodology:

  • The developments in and around the R&D programme in the past and in the present situation.
  • The position of the critical actors for the present situation.
  • The image of the future world on which technology development is based: what does the world look like when technology to be developed has been implemented on a large scale?
  • The key changes that are needed to bring about this desired future world.
  • The position of the R&D programme related to the position of possible alternatives.
  • Actions that can be undertaken to strengthen the position of the R&D programme.
  • Possible niches that could lead to the breakthrough of the innovation.
The project had a double objective. The first objective was to assess the technology development in order to increase the chance of success of micro-CHPs and fuel cell vehicles while the second objective was to improve and adapt the Socrobust methodology to the needs of the ECN unit Policy Studies. This unit wants to use Socrobust as a tool to effectively assess and to improve the chance for technological breakthrough of radical innovations.
Both technologies have undergone the Socrobust process twice. The outcomes of the first round have been evaluated and the Socrobust methodology has been slightly adapted for the second Socrobust round. The second round has been introduced to improve and adapt the Socrobust methodology. The methodology applied in the two Socrobust rounds and, to some extent, merely with the aim to improve the methodology, the outcomes of these rounds are described in this report. The detailed outcomes of the methodology are described in two separate internal ECN reports. The study ends with conclusions and learning points concerning the double application of Socrobust to both R&D programmes.

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