Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can Governments Till the Fields of Innovation?

This is an article from the New York Times (June 20,2009)

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

John Kao, right, a former professor at Harvard Business School, spoke this month at a meeting covering the appropriate government role in creating industries and jobs.

Published: June 20, 2009

INNOVATION — the tricky, many-step process by which ideas become products and services — has typically been seen, studied and celebrated at the micro level, as a pursuit for entrepreneurs and clever companies.

But governments are increasingly wading into the innovation game, declaring innovation agendas and appointing senior innovation officials. The impetus comes from two fronts: daunting challenges in fields like energy, the environment and health care that require collaboration between the public and private sectors; and shortcomings of traditional economic development and industrial policies.

Innovation policy, to be sure, is an emerging discipline. It lacks crisp definitions or metrics. The most explicit embrace of it has been outside the United States, though the Obama administration is taking some initial steps. Its new budget directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis to develop statistics that “uniquely measure the role of innovation” in the economy. And the government’s new chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, speaks of building “innovation platforms” to spur growth.

The rising worldwide interest in innovation policy represents the search to answer an important question: What is the appropriate government role in creating industries and jobs in today’s high-technology, global economy?

That central issue animated much of the discussion at an unusual gathering earlier this month at a lodge north of San Francisco. This invitation-only affair was organized and moderated by John Kao, a former professor at Harvard Business School and founder of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation.

A few speakers covered big-think issues like climate-altering geoengineering and water-management technologies. But the main participants were innovation-policy practitioners from nine countries: Australia, Brazil, Britain, Chile, Colombia, Finland, India, Norway and Singapore.

The meeting offered a window onto the state of innovation policy — how it is being defined, and what countries are doing. Above all, innovation policy is an attempt to bring some coordination to often disparate government initiatives in scientific research, education, business incentives, immigration and even intellectual property.

“It’s about setting an agenda and helping build a portfolio of skills that let an economy and a society move forward in smarter, faster ways,” Mr. Kao said.

Yet if the reach of innovation policy is broad, the attendees agreed, it is best done with a lighter touch than industrial policies of the past, which often focused on specific companies for government support. They used metaphors like “impresario” and “orchestra conductor” to describe government’s role. The ideal, they said, is “stewardship,” not command and control.

In Britain, a national innovation agenda is beginning to take shape with policy documentsand the creation of a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. “We’re determined not to second-guess the future by trying to pick winners and losers,” said Philip Rycroft, a senior government official overseeing innovation policy. “But we do think government can create the conditions so that new industries can rise more easily.”

Finland has long taken a comprehensive approach to innovation policy, investing in areas as varied as an outstanding national education system and high-speed Internet connections for its residents. It has also produced a power in the cellphone industry,Nokia.

But Mikko Kosonen, president of the Finnish Innovation Fund, a public investment fund, says Finland now needs an “innovation policy 2.0” to climb the economic ladder to remain competitive. “We see value migrating to software and services,” he explained.

The country has the second-fastest-aging society in the world, after Japan, and its health care costs are rising rapidly. To turn that challenge into a growth engine, Finland intends to become a global leader in developing software and services for medical monitoring and preventive health services. “We think well-being services are the next big opportunity for Finland,” said Mr. Kosonen, a former senior executive at Nokia.

Other governments are also focusing on targets of potential advantage. In Australia, the government is looking to nurture industries that arise from its harsh climate and a scattered population. So research centers are working to improve strains of drought-resistant wheat and cotton for export as adaptive technologies to cope with climate change, said Terry Cutler, who recently headed a government-appointed expert panel on innovation in Australia. And Boeing last year selected Australia as the location for a Phantom Works lab for developing unmanned aircraft, he said.

“Test flights don’t bump into things,” he said. “Sparsity can be a global competitive advantage.”

In India, the government and industry have financed research into products and services that reverse the traditional pattern of innovation flowing gradually from wealthy nations to the rest of the world, said R. A. Mashelkar, chairman of the country’s National Innovation Foundation. Early evidence of the trend, he said, includes the $2,000 Nano automobile, and low-cost drugs for tuberculosis and psoriasis.

“If you make something for the rich, the poor cannot afford it,” Mr. Mashelkar said. “But if you design for the poor, everyone can afford it.”

CLEARLY, the innovation meeting in California was a gathering of enthusiasts. One view not heard was that innovation policy itself is a mistake — government meddling in decisions best left to the marketplace — as free-market purists contend.

Lars Aukrust, executive director for innovation at the Research Council of Norway, answered that criticism by comparing a nation with a large corporation. “If you are going to run a big company,” he said, “are you going to leave it all to serendipity or make some strategic choices?”

“Innovation policy is a probability game,” Mr. Aukrust added. “You can improve the odds of success.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Creative Athens - a 2 day open conference on the creative economy

Friday 26 and Saturday 27 March 2010. At the Benaki Museum (Pireos Street)

The importance of creativity and innovation for the survival of an industrialized economy in the globalized, extremely competitive economic environment of the 21st century cannot be overstated. More than ever, during this period of economic turmoil, there is an ever growing recognition that a large proportion of the new economy will depend on creativity and innovation. New circumstances demand new solutions and creativity and innovation will be keys to finding a way out of our economic and social troubles.

The proposed event aims to take a closer look at the both the British and Greek experience and share knowledge and best practice between the two countries. It will bring together experts from Greece and the UK and from various fields of science, technology, humanities and the arts, as well as real-life innovators, to discuss and exchange ideas on the subject of innovation and creativity. What are the barriers and how can we overcome them in order to jump-start a creative economy? What are the different facets of creativity and how do they come together in meaningful and socially beneficial ways? What is the role of technology and technological culture - for instance, web-open-collaborative culture (in the spirit of “We-Think”) - and how do they influence economic development, empower grassroots creativity in solving local and global problems? What lessons can be drawn from the British experience that could be applied in Greece and vice versa?

The event will aim to address these questions and many more, as well as engage in debate the invited speakers and the interested communities of businessmen, artists, engineers, technologists, social entrepreneurs and others who will comprise the audience.

Day 1 – Friday 26 March 2010

Topic A: The Creative Economy: the role of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in the 21st century

The question: How do innovation and technological creativity, entrepreneurship and culture (artistic and cultural creativity) interact and interplay in establishing a sustainable creative economy?

Creative economy is defined by the integration of innovation and technological creativity, entrepreneurship in business and social activities, as well as artistic and cultural creativity. Policy-makers and experts discuss the interplay of those dimensions, as well as the importance of the creative economy in terms of competitiveness vis-à-vis the global economic environment, job creation and social mobility. Speakers include Prof. D. Bourantas, B. Wicksteed, Ass Prof G. Klimis and Shelagh Wright. Facilitator: Prof Dimitris Potamianos, Panteion University

Topic B: Fostering Innovation by means of public policy

The question: Can government aid creativity and innovation?

Policy-makers and academics discuss issues of policy, including government intervention in education, research and business incentives, with particular emphasis on successes and failures and lessons learned. How does the EU compare to the USA in terms of their different approaches towards innovation (“more” versus “less” government)? Speakers include Prof. T. Giannitsis, A. Mistos, J. Newbigin, Ass Prof B. Tsakarestou. Facilitator: George Zarkadakis, novelist and publisher

Day 2 – Saturday 27 March 2010

Topic C: Innovators

The question: What makes an innovator?

Real-life innovators (businessmen/women, designers, engineers, architects, etc.) discuss their stories and their experiences. Where do novel ideas come from? How do successful innovators sustain their “ideas factory”? Creative individuals, creative communities, creative networks discuss their stories and experiences. Speakers include S. Connif, G. Tziralis, S. Karagos, Theodora (Theia) Provopoulos. Facilitator: George Zarkadakis, novelist and publisher

Topic D: Rethinking the city: urban innovation and community-building

The question: How should we reinvent our cities and our civic values in order to foster creativity and innovation?

In today’s world of pressing environmental and demographic problems we need to adopt a new urban behaviour and new development models for our cities. Experts discuss the effect of the urban environment in kindling the creative mind, as well as social innovation for the benefit of urban communities. What social, technological, institutional, physical and urban investments, policies, institutional and organizational changes are needed for “creative ecologies” to emerge?Topics to be discussed may include urban farming by means of efficient and attractive vertical growing systems, greener and more fertile urban landscapes, re-building/renovating public spaces, stimulating creativity and arts through green design and architecture, green fashion, new food models and active lifestyles. Speakers include M. Fillipides, E. Tsirtzilaki, D. Kaponis, D. Barrie and J. Tsakonas. Facilitator: Associate Professor Betty Tsakarestou, Panteion University.

The conference is organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Department of Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University, and Ianos Publications.

The conference will stream live on Twitter channel at @creativeathens


26 & 27 Μαρτίου 2010

Μουσείο Μπενάκη, Πειραιώς 138 & Ανδρονίκου

Το British Council σε συνεργασία με το Τμήμα Επικοινωνίας, Μέσων και Πολιτισμού του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου και τις Εκδόσεις ΙΑΝΟΣ, διοργανώνει ανοιχτό συνέδριο με θέμα τη σημασία της Δημιουργικής Οικονομίας σε εποχή οικονομικής κρίσης, παρουσιάζοντας τη βρετανική και την ελληνική εμπειρία στον τομέα αυτό, με σκοπό την ανταλλαγή απόψεων και άριστων πρακτικών ανάμεσα στις δύο χώρες.

Κανείς δεν αμφισβητεί τη σημασία της δημιουργικότητας και της καινοτομίας στο πλαίσιο του παγκοσμιοποιημένου, και ιδιαίτερα ανταγωνιστικού, οικονομικού περιβάλλοντος του 21ου αιώνα. Τώρα όσο ποτέ, σε μια περίοδο εθνικής και παγκόσμιας οικονομικής κρίσης, αναγνωρίζεται όλο και περισσότερο ότι ένα μεγάλο μέρος της οικονομικής και κοινωνικής ανάκαμψης θα εξαρτηθεί από το βαθμό της δημιουργικότητας και την καινοτομίας των ατόμων και των κοινωνιών. Οι νέες συνθήκες απαιτούν την εύρεση νέων λύσεων και η δημιουργικότητα και η καινοτομία θα είναι έννοιες κλειδιά για τη διέξοδο από την οικονομική κρίση.

Στο συνέδριο συμμετέχουν επαγγελματίες και ειδικοί και από τις δύο χώρες οι οποίοι προέρχονται από διαφορετικούς κλάδους της επιστήμης, της τεχνολογίας, των ανθρωπιστικών και πολιτικών επιστημών, των τεχνών και του πολιτισμού, αλλά και επιτυχημένοι επαγγελματίες που στην πράξη έχουν αποδειχθεί καινοτόμοι.

Στο συνέδριο θα αναπτυχθούν τέσσερεις θεματικές ενότητες.

Παρασκευή 26 Μαρτίου (1030 - 1730)

Θεματική Α’: Η Δημιουργική Οικονομία: το ρόλος της καινοτομίας, της δημιουργικότητας και της επιχειρηματικότητας τον 21ο αιώνα. Με ποιόν τρόπο διαδρούν και συνεργούν η καινοτομία και η τεχνολογική δημιουργικότητα, η επιχειρηματικότητα και ο πολιτισμός (η καλλιτεχνική και πολιτιστική δημιουργία) προς την εδραίωση μια αειφόρου δημιουργικής οικονομίας;

Στους ομιλητές αυτής της θεματικής ενότητας περιλαμβάνονται οι καθηγητές Δημήτρης Μπουραντάς (Οικονομικό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Bill Wicksteed (Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing), Γιώργος Κλήμης (Πάντειο Πανεπιστήμιο) και η Shelagh Wright, (σύμβουλος Δημιουργικής Οικονομίας, British Council). Ο συντονισμός θα γίνει από τον Πρόεδρο του τμήματος Επικοινωνίας, Μέσων και Πολιτισμού του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου καθηγητή Δημήτρη Ποταμιάνο.

Θεματική Β’: Υποστηρίζοντας την καινοτομία μέσα από δημόσιες πολιτικές. Ποιος είναι ο ρόλος της κεντρικής κυβέρνησης και της τοπικής αυτοδιοίκησης στη στήριξη της δημιουργικότητας και της καινοτομίας; Στους ομιλητές αυτής της θεματικής ενότητας περιλαμβάνονται οι καθηγητές Τάσος Γιαννίτσης (Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Μπέττυ Τσακαρέστου (Πάντειο Πανεπιστήμιο), ο Αχιλλέας Μητσός, Γενικός Γραμματέας Έρευνας & Τεχνολογίας και ο John Newbigin (δημοσιογράφος και σύμβουλος σε θέματα πολιτιστικών βιομηχανιών). Ο συντονισμός θα γίνει από τον συγγραφέα και εκδότη Γιώργο Ζαρκαδάκη.

Σάββατο 27 Μαρτίου (1030 - 1700)

Θεματική Γ’: Η Καινοτομία στην πράξη: πως γίνεται κανείς καινοτόμος. Καινοτόμοι επιχειρηματίες από το χώρο των δημιουργικών βιομηχανιών λένε τις δικές τους ιστορίες, τα προβλήματα που αντιμετώπισαν και τις λύσεις που βρήκαν. Στους ομιλητές περιλαμβάνονται οι Sam Conniff (συνιδρυτής του Livity), Γιώργος Τζιραλής (OpenCoffeeFund), Στέφανος Καράγκος (Xplain) και η Θεοδώρα Προβοπούλου (Theia). Ο συντονισμός θα γίνει από τον συγγραφέα και εκδότη Γιώργο Ζαρκαδάκη.

Θεματική Δ’. Ανακαλύπτοντας ξανά την πόλη: καινοτομία στην πόλη και δημιουργία κοινοτήτων. Ο ρόλος της δημιουργικότητας και της καινοτομίας στην ανάπτυξη σύγχρονων πόλεων και κοινοτήτων; Στους ομιλητές περιλαμβάνονται οι αρχιτέκτονες Μέμος Φιλιππίδης, Ιάσων Τσάκωνας (εταιρεία ανάπτυξης OLIAROS), Ελένη Τζιρτζιλάκη (Δίκτυο Νομαδική Αρχιτεκτονική), ο Δημοσθένης Καπόνης (Mobile Application Athens Book) και o David Barrie (σύμβουλος αστικού σχεδιασμού, David Barrie & Associates). Ο συντονισμός θα γίνει από τη καθηγήτρια του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου Μπέττυ Τσακαρέστου.

Το συνέδριο θα προβάλλεται μέσω βίντεο ζωντανά στην ιστοσελίδα Κατά τη διάρκεια του συνεδρίου οι ενδιαφερόμενοι προσκαλούνται να παρέμβουν με σχόλια, σκέψεις και ερωτήσεις μέσω του συνδέσμου στο Twitter @creativeathens

Πότε: 26 & 27 Μαρτίου (10:30-17:30)

Που: Μουσείο Μπενάκη, Πειραιώς 138 & Ανδρονίκου, τηλ: 210 3453101


Για πληροφορίες σχετικά με το συνέδριο, επικοινωνήστε με την κυρία Όλγα Γρατσανίτη στο British Council, τηλ.: 210 3692336,