New academic institute based at UCL

October 2017 saw the launch of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL.

A popular image of the state-private sector relationship is one in which the former acts as a drag and a hindrance to the latter through the debilitating effect of taxes and regulation on entrepreneurship. In the last few years, however, Prof Mariana Mazzucato has shown just how misleading this image is. Her best known work is the much acclaimed book The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths. First published in 2013, this book found its way onto the Financial Times’s ‘Book of the Year list’ in that same year. The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) was founded by Professor Mazzucato with the aim of showing how closely dependent upon the state modern innovation is and using this lesson to promote governments’ use of mission-oriented policies to foster socially useful innovation.

Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Director: Mariana Mazzucato
Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, UCL

Deputy Director: Rainer Kattel
Professor of Innovation and Public Governance, UCL

For more information:

Potential PhD students — iipp-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk

Partnerships — ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/partnerships

In her book, Prof Mazzucato attacks the popular stereotype of a lumbering, bureaucratic state versus a dynamic, innovative private sector. In a series of case studies — from IT, biotech, nanotech to today’s emerging green tech — Professor Mazzucato shows that the opposite is true: the private sector only finds the courage to invest after an entrepreneurial state has made the high-risk investments. In an intensely researched chapter, she reveals that every technology that makes the iPhone so ‘smart’ was government funded: the Internet, GPS, its touch-screen display and the voice-activated Siri. Mazzucato also controversially argues that in the history of modern capitalism the State has not only fixed market failures, but has also actively shaped and created markets. In doing so, it sometimes wins and sometimes fails. Yet by not admitting the State’s role in such active risk taking, and pretending that the state only cheers on the side-lines while the private sector roars, we have ended up creating an ‘innovation system’ whereby the public sector socializes risks, while rewards are privatized. The book considers how to change this dysfunctional dynamic so that economic growth can be not only ‘smart’ but also ‘inclusive’.

The aim of the IIPP is to lead a debate about the direction of economic growth and governments’ use of mission-oriented policies to confront the world’s most urgent challenges: from climate change to inequality and the problems facing ageing societies. Its work will feed into policies on innovation, financial reform, institutional change and sustainable development. IIPP will systematically rethink how public value is created, nurtured and evaluated.

Speaking at the launch of the IIPP, Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL, stressed the importance of its location in ‘The Bartlett’, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment. which already has a reputation for new responses to pressing world issues through a number of interdisciplinary centres. The interdisciplinary nature of the IIPP itself can be seen in its Advisory Board which brings together a broad and interdisciplinary range of practical expertise from academia, policy, business and the arts.

Mike Bracken — Partner, Public Digital; Co-founder of Gov.uk;

James K Galbraith — Lloyd M Bentsen Jr Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin;

Jayati Ghosh — Professor of Economics at the Centre
for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi;

Hermann Hauser — Co-founder of Amadeus Capital;

Dan Hill — Associate Director at Arup and Head of Arup Digital Studio;

Hadeel Ibrahim — Founding Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation;

Roly Keating — Chief Executive Officer, the British Library;

Stephanie Kelton — Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City;

Roger Martin — Institute Director, Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto;

Cornelia Parker — Artist; Honorary Professor Manchester University and Honorary Fellow of Queen
Elizabeth Hall, Oxford;

Alan Penn — Dean of The Bartlett; Professor in Architectural and Urban Computing, UCL;

Carlota Perez — IIPP Honorary Professor; Centennial Professor, London School of Economics;

Jeffrey Sachs — Special Advisor to UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres

Specific themes, currently pursued within the IIPP’s portfolio are:

• Public value for public purpose
• Rethinking health innovation
• A green economy for sustainable growth
• Public-private partnerships in space
• Mission-oriented innovation policy
• Governance and digital transformation
• Patient finance and state investment banks
• Inclusive growth: risks and rewards
• The state’s role in technological revolutions

In addition to promoting research in these areas the IIPP will offer undergraduate and graduate courses as well as executive education for policy and business leaders – from the UK and around the world. A key priority is to train the next generation of leaders to create, justify, nurture and evaluate transformative policies. Courses will use an interdisciplinary and practice-based approach to innovation studies, policy evaluation and the theory of public value generation.

A cornerstone of IIPP thinking is that policy should be seen as a process of experimentation. With this in mind it seeks to encourage public engagement on key issues through a series of partnerships. Through them global policy-makers can share their experiences around strategic priority setting, organisational innovation and dynamic evaluation tools — with the goal of empowering the pursuit of public-value driven innovations.

From issue no. 180, January 2018, pp.8-9

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