Social Influence and disruptive Low Carbon Innovations (SILCI)

Disruptive innovations have a particular characteristic: they offer something new and different to users, rather than incrementally improving upon what is already available. In creating new value for users, disruptive innovations shake up incumbent firms, markets, and regulations.

SILCI is interested in where low carbon innovations and disruptive innovations meet. SILCI researchers are asking: what are potentially disruptive low carbon innovations? what novel attributes do they offer users? what impact might their widespread adoption have on emissions?

Disruptive low carbon innovations are an exciting new area of innovation activity, business strategy, regulatory reform, and scientific research. The possibilities created by information and communication technologies being applied to energy system challenges is of particular importance. But other non-digital and even low-tech innovations are equally promising, across energy, buildings, transport and land use applications.

As well as identifying and characterising disruptive low carbon innovations across sectors and applications, SILCI is interested in how and why they are adopted, and so how they spread. Information exchanged through social networks, through online activity, and through physical activity in neighbourhoods influences people’s behaviour. Social influence plays an important role in diffusing innovations. But does this also apply to disruptive innovations? SILCI researchers are asking: what role does social influence play in the diffusion of disruptive low carbon innovations? can these diffusion processes be accelerated to help reduce emissions?