The Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) is a research network established in 2001 by Professor Robin Williams to bring together groups of academics and individual researchers across the University of Edinburgh who are involved in research, teaching and knowledge transfer on social and policy aspects of science, technology and innovation.  

Coordinated by the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject group in the School of Social and Political Science (formed by the merger of the Research Centre for Social Sciences and the Science Studies Unit), ISSTI also involves colleagues from other specialist centres including the Entrepreneurship and Innovation group in the Business School, the Japanese European Technology Studies Institute in Economics, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Technology Law in Law, Edinburgh College of Art, the Social Informatics Cluster in the School of Informatics, various groups in the Schools of Engineering and Geosciences, and the Centre for Population Health Sciences.  Numerous additional linkages have been established across the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine with their international research strengths.

Priority areas

Much of the work undertaken within the ISSTI network focuses on four areas: Life Science Innovation; Information and Communication Technologies;  Energy Technologies & Environmental Innovation; and, the Historical Sociology of Science, Technology and Medicine. This work has benefitted from substantial external research funding from the UK research councils, the European Union and a variety of foundations and other public and private funding bodies. Our work is united by various cross-cutting interests including the role and character of technical expertise, the promotion and governance of innovation, risk and regulation, and public engagement.

Engagement with policy and practice

ISSTI’s approach is characterised by interdisciplinarity within the social sciences and multidisciplinary cooperation with scientists, engineers, medical specialists and managers. ISSTI is committed to bringing its expertise and research findings to a wide range of audiences. Much of its work is explicitly geared to policy and practice and involves close cooperation with innovators, decision-makers and other stakeholders.

International links

ISSTI has a long record of cooperation with other European groups, and it has developed wider international ties, hosting researchers and students from the US, China, Latin America and Africa and undertaking research projects and other ventures with them. ISSTI members take an active and often leading role in national and international associations and networks in the field.


ISSTI’s research is complemented by a range of teaching and training activities: undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses offered by the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject group in the School of Social and Political Science and other units in the University, supervision of research degrees, and professional development through workshops and short courses. More details on the STIS website.