Sustainability integration in Innovation strategies - An analysis of sustainability aspects in Swedish innovation strategies and in Swedish healthcare sector innovation activities
Abstract: The healthcare sector, currently accounting for about seven percent of global GDP expenditure, faces growing demand pressures driven by factors such as ageing populations and growing prevalence of chronic diseases. Consequently, the sector is increasingly looking for innovations that can simultaneously improve the efficiency and quality of care. Healthcare innovations could in turn make large contributions to sustainable economic, social and environmental development. This thesis therefore investigates whether and how sustainability principles are integrated with innovation policies and innovation practices of the healthcare sector, using Sweden as the case study. Data were collected by a combination of qualitative and quantitative text analyses, surveys and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. Four key topics were analyzed: integration, interpretation and operationalization of sustainability principles in innovation policies and barriers to sustainability integration in healthcare innovation organizations. The findings and analysis indicate that sustainability challenges function as drivers, rather than objectives, in Swedish innovation strategies. Findings interestingly also suggest that the innovation strategies that are integrated with the regional development plans not only propose a more integrated approach to sustainability and innovation, they also display stronger interpretations of sustainability and develop more specific objectives, targets and indicators for sustainable development to which innovation shall contribute. A correlation between implementation and operationalization of sustainability suggested by the environmental policy integration literature is confirmed. The findings finally reveal that sustainably principles are poorly integrated in the analyzed healthcare innovation organizations’ practices. These organizations would benefit from clear and operational sustainability objectives, increased cross-administrative collaboration along with resources to improve organizational innovation capacity.
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