The ESRC-funded complex product systems (CoPS) innovation centre ran the first major research programme on CoPS worldwide between 1996 and 2006. Jointly run by CENTRIM and the science and technology policy research unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, the centre created a vibrant new research field within innovation studies, building up substantial UK research capacity.
Until the start of the CoPS Innovation Centre, with a few exceptions, innovation scholars had largely neglected the study of high technology capital goods in favour of mass-produced goods.
CoPS are high-value, business-to-business, high-technology products, systems, software packages, networks, services and constructs. Unlike mass-produced goods, CoPS are usually very difficult to produce, made in multi-firm projects, and they need to be customised for individual business or government users. Examples include telecommunications exchanges, business information networks, flight simulators, high-speed trains, internet super servers, aircraft engines, avionics units, systems for electricity grids, offshore oil equipment and intelligent buildings.