The three pointers of research and development (R&D) for growth-boosting sustainable innovation system

David Sarpong, Derrick Boakye, George Ofosu, David Botchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research and development (R&D) is frequently touted and labelled as the fundamental engine for creating sustainable innovations and achieving climate transitions. Yet, recent R&D efforts have struggled to live up to the widespread life-altering results they delivered in the 1960s when the term R&D was coined. In our attempt to address this concern, we propose a sustainability pathway model to achieving an economically viable innovation system that is anchored in three important pointers of R&D which have long been viewed as mutually distinct components in R&D budgets—investment, talent, and learning institutions. Directing attention to the pervasive need to align R&D investments with talents and learning institutions, we delineate how these pointers of R&D coming together to constitute a trivalent force may drive a growth-boosting sustainable innovation system. While there is no simple recipe which suggests an optimal combination of new scientific understanding, technologies, and process that could help produce the much-needed innovations and technological change, we present a set of propositions that highlights opportunities for reflection on existing R&D investment strategies and serves as a bridge to connect the emergent scholarship on sustainability with the intellectual traditions of R&D in innovation management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102581
Number of pages9
Early online date13 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022, The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Innovation
  • Learning institutions
  • Research and Development (R&D)
  • Sustainability
  • Talent


Dive into the research topics of 'The three pointers of research and development (R&D) for growth-boosting sustainable innovation system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this