An operative model for implementing missions

Published 8 May 2023


This series includes a final report and a policy brief that can help policymakers implement directional mission-oriented innovation. The analysis of this series is Finland. However, the applicability of the model is not constrained by national contexts, as governments face very similar challenges in both implementing and governing mission-oriented innovation.


What is directional mission-oriented innovation?

The government must be able to find novel solutions to the greatest challenges of our time, such as the climate crisis, new security threats, an ageing population, and technological transformations. Directional mission-driven research and innovation policy provides an approach for the government to implement its strategic objectives by solving complex challenges with actors in different sectors.


While mission-oriented innovation shows a direction for how governments can reignite innovation policy, it does not solve alone the key challenges that governments are facing in steering societal transformation. For example, electoral cycles, governmental silos, low capabilities and the need for broad collaboration pose radical challenges to how the theoretical potential of mission-oriented innovation is translated into practice.


Directional research and innovation policy implemented through missions requires strong political commitment and leadership. However, it also allows for utilising the capabilities and resources of different administrative areas and societal sectors to achieve a common goal.


The report


The objective of this project has been to investigate how directional innovation policy can accelerate the significant societal transitions that are prioritized by the government. Further, we provide recommendations on how the government can implement a directional innovation policy through missions. The project departs from mission-oriented innovation policy, referring the use of missions to direct broad societal cooperation to solve substantial challenges.


In this report, we present a mission model based on a literature review and an evaluation, as well as alternatives for implementing the model in the Finnish context. Given the current crises, there are ongoing efforts to rethink innovation policy in Finland and in Europe. For example, in Finland, the parliamentary working group for research, development and innovation (RDI) has proposed increasing national R&D investments gradually to 4% of GDP by 2030, and has called for more strategic and directional RDI activities in order to address today’s complex societal challenges. You can read it here.


The policy brief


In this policy brief, we present an operative model based on a comprehensive literature review and an empirical analysis of the Finnish context. Further, we propose routes for implementing the model in Finland. You can read it here.


These publications are part of the implementation of the Government Plan for Analysis, Assessment and Research. ( We partnered up with 4Front, BIOS Research, and UCL IIPP. You can read more about the project here and Demos Helsinki’s white paper on missions here.




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