Science and Technology Policy Research

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Science and Technology Policy Research (logo).jpg
Established 1966 (1966)
Type Public
Founder Christopher Freeman
Location Freeman Centre
Staff 70
Publication Research Policy
Focus Policy, Management
Former Name Science Policy Research Unit
Functions Research, Teaching, Consultancy
Website SPRU

Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) is an academic centre at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. Founded in 1966, SPRU specialises in science, technology and innovation studies for policy and management. It was called the Science Policy Research Unit, but the name has been changed to reflect expansion of research interests. It is the largest institution for science, technology and innovation (STI) studies in the world.[1] In 2012, SPRU ranked 6th in the list of top thirty science and technology think tanks, which was put together by the University of Pennsylvania.[2]

SPRU's research focuses on gaining an understanding of and developing approaches to the governance of science, technology and innovation that influence academia, policy-making, and management. Researchers' electronic working papers, books and journals[3] demonstrate the interdisciplinary approach historically related to SPRU.

Publications are kept in the Keith Pavitt Library, along with 40,000 other materials on science, technology and innovation studies.[4] SPRU is located in the Freeman Centre, an open architecture building.

According to Research Fortnight,[5] "SPRU alumni have gone on to set up policy research centres and think tanks all over the world and many work in senior positions in governments".


SPRU offers postgraduate degrees (MSc, MPhil, DPhil) in Technology and Innovation Management, Public Policies for Science and Technology and Innovation, and Science and Technology for Sustainability.

Scholars at SPRU are international and multidisciplinary. They have backgrounds from economics, political science, business and management, history, philosophy as well as natural science and engineering.


Science and technology systems[edit]

  • Realignment of international, national and regional innovation systems
  • Measuring and assessing knowledge production and distribution
  • Science and technology for development in diverse globalising economies
  • New developments in university-industry-government relationships
  • Network dynamics in advanced research systems (e.g. nano-science, information and communication technologies)
  • The relationship between publicly funded research and economic performance


Innovation in firms and industry[edit]

  • Strategy, structure and dynamics of innovating firms and industrial systems
  • Managing innovation capabilities in firms, industries and public policy
  • Research and technological change in high-tech industries (e.g. areas of nanotechnology, biomedical research and information technology)[7]
  • Understanding and harnessing distributed and user innovation
  • Managing uncertainty in complex integrated infrastructures
  • Innovation in services
  • The role of intellectual property
  • Systems Integration[8] for managing complex products and systems


Governance and sustainability[edit]

  • Transitions to sustainable energy futures (Sussex Energy Group)[10]
  • Global sustainable technology pathways (STEPS Centre)[11]
  • Governance of weapons of mass destruction (Harvard Sussex Program)[12]
  • Convergence between foresight and precaution in risk regulation
  • Analytic and participation frameworks for appraising new technologies


Expanding areas[edit]

  • Improving indicators of scientific, technical and environmental performance
  • The management of innovation in firms, industries and countries
  • Developing practical ways for dealing with new risks and uncertainties
  • New perspectives on biomedical systems especially genetics/genomics[14]
  • Emerging technologies (space & satellite navigation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, etc.)
  • The role of networks in innovation[15]
  • Evolutionary economics
  • Financial innovation[16]
  • Science and technology for development
  • Entrepreneurship in science and technology[15]
  • Economics of knowledge



  • Scientometric techniques for analysing trends in patents and publications
  • Econometric-based industrial dynamics
  • Comparative case studies
  • Multicriteria mapping[18]
  • Technology foresight, originally developed at SPRU[18]
  • Q methodology
  • Scenario workshops
  • Agent-based models
  • Survey's
  • Citizen’s panels
  • Case studies
  • Diversity analysis
  • Delphi method
  • Risk/Impact Assessment
  • Network Analysis

Notable people[edit]


External links[edit]