Sustainable development can only be achieved by extensive innovation in environmental technology and its rapid international diffusion. Experience has shown the crucial importance of lead markets in this process. Lead markets are national or regional markets where a specific technology is first introduced before subsequently being adopted as the standard for a global market. They provide a platform for technological learning and the development of productive capacity before a global market takes shape. A better understanding of what drives the development of lead markets in environmental innovations and, crucially, what factors contribute to their internationalization can deliver key insights for accelerating the spread of environmentally-friendly technologies.
While past research has focused exclusively on the role of industrialized countries for the development of lead markets, the rapid entry of emerging economies, such as China in the case of electromobility or India in the wind energy sector, warrant the consideration of how this phenomenon is taking shape in these rapidly industrializing countries. This research project compares lead markets in the EU with cases in China, India and Brazil. It will draw on concepts from the field of evolutionary economics to develop an analytical framework for the analysis of lead markets, focusing in particular on framework conditions in emerging economies. Additionally, the project will compare governance instruments for stimulating lead markets in the EU and the selected countries. This will be used to assess the relative benefits of different strategy options for lead market development, including first mover, early follower and late follower strategies.