Innovation Investment and Economic Recovery – Workshop

Will innovation investment foster economic recovery? What business strategies and public policies should be undertaken to restore economic growth? These vital questions were posed by CIMR on February 23 at an all-day workshop on Investment Innovation and Economic Recovery. The event brought together a specially invited group of policy-makers, business experts, investment bankers and academics from across Europe to engage with the current economic policies implemented in Europe and invite opinions to inform leading-edge innovation investment research.

Post-crisis Recovery

While there have been many attempts globally to re-establish economic growth since 2008, it remains clear that the world has not yet emerged from the consequences of the recent economic crisis. There is evidence to suggest, however, that some regions of the world have reacted better than others to adversity; several emerging countries have maintained economic growth rates and the United States has shown greater resilience to the economic downturn than Europe and Japan. The slow growth in Europe is frequently linked to the lack of adequate investment; recent figures published by the European Central Bank show that, since 2008, the percentage of GDP invested in Europe has decreased year on year. How can the business world be expected to recover in confidence, without the necessary investment to drive this recovery?

Where to Invest

The day’s proceedings began with a presentation on innovation investment as a key driver of economic recovery; Professor Daniele Archibugi, Dr Andrea Filippetti and Dr Marion Frenz argued that European countries have failed to capitalise fully on their competences and capabilities for economic recovery. In order to do so, the right questions must be identified and the right policies designed to provide evidence for national and regional performance.

This presentation was followed by a round-table discussion to introduce policy to foster innovation investment. Both Professor Cristiano Antonelli, from the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin and Professor Ron Smith from Birkbeck acknowledged the difficulty policy-makers experience in assessing the value of investment and innovation; investment in physical property and technologies differs profoundly to investment in knowledge, which is an intangible, fluid capital. Since intangible resources cannot be successfully captured by current metrics, the significance of some crucial areas of innovation investment cannot be represented.

Further talks by Mario Cervantes from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Antonio Vezzani from the European Commission, Professor Slavo Radosevic from University College London, Professor Suma Athreye from the University of Essex and Professor Sandeep Kapur from Birkbeck, brought further perspective to innovation and industrial polices in Europe. It seemed clear from all the experts that the economic crisis has had an impact on public funding for Research and Innovation, and that there have been changes to policy priorities. Although the discussion shed light on several differences of opinion on the reach and significance of this impact, each talk augmented the variety of options to the question of how to influence innovation policy, from demanding stimulus and infrastructure, to connecting research and development in peripheral communities more securely to central research hubs.

Common Purpose

By bringing together a variety of global perspectives and opinions, the CIMR workshop was able to stimulate debate and resolution in several areas. While it may never be possible to answer the key question of where to invest, it served to demonstrate that the most successful innovation must be collaborative and communicative, aligning many sectors of society to a common purpose. As Professor Mariana Mazzucato acknowledged in the final round-table discussion; “The space race required 12 sectors to do things differently, from food production to mathematics, from clothing to security. Successful economic recovery will require investment in research and development across the board.”

Our heartfelt thanks to all of our participants and attendees. You can find biographies of all our participants here.