Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Integrating innovation drivers

David Jacobson: I have been banging on in a number of blogs over the years on the importance of innovation policy, and in particular on the incorporation of non-R&D-based innovation. Innovations can emerge from processes other than research, for example from practice and experience.

While it is entirely appropriate to encourage research and to support expenditure on R&D, expenditure on R&D is an input and what Ireland requires is an increase in innovation, which is the output. Even increases in patents are not outputs, except where those patents are actually implemented into product, process or organisational innovation.

The new government, in developing innovation policies, must be aware of this fundamental difference between R&D on one hand and innovation on the other. It is only with such awareness that Ireland will be able to focus available resources where they will have most impact on innovation, and on the improvement of the national system of innovation. An opportunity cost of providing additional funding for R&D, for example, may be support for programmes to encourage creativity among students at all levels, including the primary level.

Another such opportunity cost might be support for non-research-based, non-patentable innovations in existing companies or new start-ups. Providing all these supports - for creativity, non-research-based innovations, and R&D - is the optimum approach. The key to policy improvement is the integration of the drivers of innovation into a joined-up approach to the evolution of the national system of innovation.

This type of thinking is evident in my new book, Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion, edited with Paul Robertson, just published (2011) by Edward Elgar Publishing.

This builds on the earlier book (2008), Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries, edited with Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen also for Edward Elgar.


ENS OG said...

Totally agree. Low tech is big business and could employ more people more cheaply than more high tech R&D.
Eddie @patentnav

Robert Sweeney said...


Are there data on the historical sources of Irish growth broken down on a firm size, or low-tech/high-tech basis? It would be interesting.

Martin O'Dea said...

Excellent article David, makes me wonder though, be it high tech or low tech why does innovation matter. Is it because companies gain market share and become more profitable; or should it be viewed from the broader perspective that it continues the drive for efficient provision of transportation, nutrition, healthcare, leisure pursuit, entertainment, information, exercise, etc etc - or in short, to allow us to better our collective lot.
Appreciating wealth as a background to development, as some form of societal construct or a measurement of societal development. As a society we surely need to look to force banks hand back towards their proper (productive, innovative) task of enabling societal advancement; not of becoming an industry themselves and self-cannibalism.
A report cited here before seems to be drawing good political options for financial services management.


If I had my way - I would look to bring a major piece of financial services legislation, looking to gain the international adaptation that seems possible from current IMF G20 etc reversal from 80s/90s, but essentially an Irish endeavour looking to set things right first (using ideas like those in the article above) and letting the economics follow.
Secondly, I would pursue innovation and productivity in innovative social/private/public mixes using regional/local innovation centres with profit/sharing democratic organisation structure providing jobs of choice; i.e. supports i.t. provisions etc are there and if you wish to work for welfare levels with increased earnings coming initially only from profits.
Thirdly I would let go of banking debt as a country, if it meant imprisoning those who erred and criminalising their decisions, or indeed, any other mode as the financial crisis deepens. I am sure many of those implicated would do the patriotic thing anyway - in the realisation that their sufferings might save 5 million people's hardships!
A fresh start is needed, its not coming from this government, and cannot come from this generation of politicians, as well intentioned as some may be