Mariana Mazzucato (SPRU) on the government’s role in future innovations

18. Januar 2017
Name: Mariana Mazzucato
Position: Professor in the Economics of Innovation at SPRU, University of Sussex
Thema: The role of government and global players in future innovations

The nature and the necessity of innovation was a major topic at the BMWi-conference “Modernizing Germany – Innovation Agenda #de2025”. But what are the strategies a government such as germany can adapt in order to create an environment in which innovation can flourish?

According to Mrs Mazzucato, a decentralized network of public actors, which are able to collaborate dynamically with business investing across the whole innovation chain, is the base for a full deployment of innovation in a variety of sectors.

Thematising the mindset which we should adapt towards risk and failure, Mrs. Mazzucato states that seeing the government not as a “lender of last resort”, but as an “investor of first resort” in an environment in which both public and private investors are willing to take risks is essential.

At the same time, she sees the urge to find ways to not only “socialize risks but also rewards” through public investment.  The lack of the demand of the public sector for financial reward from companies who have “benefitted massively from public finance but then run of with the profits” can now be seen as the “biggest challenge of the 21st century”.

In order to create sustainable innovation, one should “learn from history, forget ideology” and therefore take organisational experience as a benchmark, where an interdisciplinary, risk-taking and creative innovation is made possible by strategic investment and the provision of the long-term patient capital. On the contrary, the “schizophrenic reaction” towards Silicon Valley which’s prospering innovation culture is often tried to imitate without “learning the real lesson” should be avoided.

“Thinking big, being willing to dream about societal challenges in a mission-oriented way” is the only path to enable groundbreaking innovation for future challenges such as battling climate change or thinking seriously about care. Therefore, “mission-oriented innovation, not just commercialization of publicly-funded technology” is required, according to Mrs. Mazzucato.

More about the #de2025 conference
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