“Green” transition and innovation in public institutions: an urgent research and policy agenda

By João Carlos Ferraz, Associate Professor, Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

New economic activities may be required for the sustainable, competitive and inclusive development trajectory of a nation. But in their early stages, the economic attractiveness of many of these new activities is unknown. Uncertainty prevails as investment projects have no track record of costs and returns, demand is not guaranteed, and the institutional framework may not be consolidated. In short, infant industry challenges may apply, which is when new policy and public institution practices should come into play. And increasingly, emerging societal development challenges like climate change, are creating a pressing need for innovative policy solutions.

But what is innovation in public institutions? Policy innovations may come in diverse shapes and forms; they can be new solutions to address a pre-existing challenge or alternative approaches to tackling an emerging one. Some may result in short-lived experiences (pilot projects that are never scaled up); others can be both immediately relevant and long lasting. Drawing from Schumpeterian literature, policy innovation can be defined as changes in processes – including organisational procedures – and products that a public agency offers to society. For policy beneficiaries, these are product innovations, but, when taken up, they imply process changes in the recipient organisation. Moreover, policy innovations can be of radical or incremental nature depending on the extent of the changes they imply for policy benefactors and beneficiaries. Nonetheless, a necessary pre-condition for the emergence and application of any type of innovation is the mobilisation of dynamic policy capabilities.  

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The shifting global geography of innovation

By Riccardo Crescenzi, Simona Iammarino, Carolin Ioramashvili, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper, London School of Economics & Political Science, Department of Geography & Environment

The geography of technological innovation around the globe has changed over the last three decades, and with it the geography of wealth creation. Innovation has become simultaneously more globally spread across different parts of the world, and more intensely localised in strongly interconnected global hotspots, generating positive and negative effects and new kinds of inequality.

Since the 1st Industrial Revolution, innovation has not only been a motor of economic growth; it has also strongly shaped (un)equal geographical patterns of development and income distribution. Each successive major industrial revolution has had its own distinctive geography. The 2nd Industrial Revolution – broadly based on electro-mechanical general-purpose technologies – witnessed the entry of North America into the high-income club of the world, while broadening the industrialised regions of Europe. The benefits spread widely through the territories of innovative countries, down their urban hierarchies, generating a tendency of inter-regional income convergence in the mid-20th century.

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From COVID-19 to “neglected diseases”: Time to deliver on pharmaceutical innovation

By Werner Raza, ÖFSE – Austrian Foundation for Development Research

The pharmaceutical innovation system’s disregard of “neglected diseases” primarily affecting countries in the Global South should no longer be tolerated. A substantial reform is necessary.

Triggered by SARS-COV-2, Covid-19 belongs to the group of new infectious diseases which until now had mainly occurred in emerging and developing countries. Since the first outbreak of a SARS epidemic in 2002, millions of people have been affected by the family of coronaviruses. But it took a global pandemic with serious impacts on OECD countries’ societies and economic systems, for such a disease to receive the health policy attention that the Global South has been sorely lacking.

The share of pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) funds for diseases primarily affecting the Global South is vanishingly small. This is true for the public sector, but even more so for the pharmaceutical industry. Accordingly, they have become referred to as “neglected diseases”.

Little research and slow progress

Neglected diseases have been a major global health policy issue for decades. In the Global South, they cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of illnesses every year. Often with serious long-term health consequences. Depending on the definition, neglected diseases comprise several dozen diseases, sometimes including the so-called “big three”, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. But they also include “neglected tropical diseases” as defined by the WHO, such as Chagas, dengue fever and leishmaniasis, as well as other poverty-related diseases.   

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(A)head of her times. The world needs women’s talent to shape a better future

By Annalisa Primi, Head, Economic Transformation and Development Division, OECD Development Centre

She is passionate. She sees opportunities where others don’t see them. She has the strength to pursue her visions against all odds. She experiments. She builds alliances. She sets up and manages a factory putting staff well-being at the core. She becomes a successful entrepreneur. She has basic education, born in 1877 into a poor family in Umbria, Italy

It’s 1907. Women do not have patrimonial autonomy and cannot register a business in their name (the law will remain in place until 1919). Luisa Spagnoli has an intuition. She recognises that she needs support from an established market leader. She understands the importance of the distribution and market outreach strategy. She partners (using her husband’s name) with one of the leading food firms in her region (Buitoni) and she founds an artisanal laboratory that in 1909 will become the “Perugina”.  The journey of a leading multinational starts.

She experiments. She faces World War I. To continue producing, she employs and trains the wives of employees recruited for the war. In 1917 she registers the Perugina Choccolate trademark and in 1919 she opens the first distribution mono-brand store in Italy. In 1939 she opens the first one abroad, in New York. Her experimentations lead to innovations. When the war ends, she keeps her female workforce. She continues innovating.

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Data innovation for migration: why now and how?

By Marzia Rango, Data Innovation and Capacity-Building Coordinator at the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), IOM – UN Migration, and Michele Vespe, European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), Demography, Migration and Governance Unit, Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M)

Now more than ever we need to invest in responsible data innovation for the analysis of mobility and migration

The impact of COVID-19 on the production of migration statistics around the world has been severe, particularly across low- and middle-income countries. In Africa, where national population censuses and household surveys are the main sources of data on migration, travel restrictions, lockdown measures and closure of government offices have heavily affected the ability to collect data from these sources, delaying the (already infrequent) production of migration statistics. The same has occurred in some European countries. And even in countries that were able to switch to remote modalities for data collection, challenges persisted, particularly in terms of the quality of data. Meanwhile, only just over a third of the 47 African countries surveyed in May 2020 reported using sources other than traditional ones.

One of the UN Secretary General report’s (“From Promise to Action:  The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”) key recommendations is to ‘strengthen evidence-based discourse on migration.’ But how to do so when even basic facts about migration in many countries around the world are largely unknown, because capacities to collect, or properly analyse and disseminate reliable statistics are extremely modest? And when a global pandemic further limits the availability of data from traditional sources?

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Should firms in developing countries pursue independent R&D or adopt technology to innovate?

By Dai Jianjun and Yang Jianlong, Policy Research and Advice, OECD Development Centre (on secondment from the Development Research Center of the State Council of China)

Research-and-developmentInnovation promotes the global economy’s sustained growth, and innovation in developing countries can be achieved through two main means: independent research and development (R&D) or technology adoption. It is generally believed that developing countries can achieve development at a lower cost and faster by adopting technology. Even though enterprises are subject to certain restrictions in their technology adoption, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) that may be rejected due to national security factors, is it still relevant to depend on the adoption of technology for innovation to achieve continuous development?

To help answer this question, two companies in China, Huawei and Lenovo, offer perspectives in analysing different innovation models and their achievements. Both companies are engaged in the information technology industry and were established basically around the same time in the 1980s, experiencing first-hand the process of China’s implementation of the reform and opening-up policy to achieve economic catch-up. Currently, both are Fortune 500 companies, leading in their segmentation and having adopted different innovative approaches. Given the good comparability between the two companies, they offer relevant inspiration and analysis on innovation strategies and performance. How?

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Innovation Driving the City

By Ms. Theresa Mathawaphan and Ms. Yaowarat Kekina, National Innovation Agency (Public Organisation), Thailand


Check out the 28 March 2019 EMnet meeting on
“Global Challenges for Business in Emerging Markets”
with a special focus on Smart Cities in Asia


Bangkok-CyberTech-District-Development
Bangkok CyberTech District Development

Innovation and technology currently play an increasing role in developing the urban city by tackling multiple challenges. Many cities in the ASEAN region have set-up urban development strategies by creating an innovation ecosystem to elevate the area’s economy and investment, reaching a global level. This makes the “innovation city” concept more recognised and used as a new way of driving the development of cities.

Proof of this is the Innovation Cities Index 2018. This report evaluates the city innovation ecosystem capability of 500 cities worldwide, reflecting the vision that a city can grow and be sustainably driven when citizens and corporations are capable of generating innovation. This index measures three main aspects, namely cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets, and has a total of 162 indexes. Continue reading

Digital economies at global ‘’margins’’

By Mark Graham, Professor of Internet Geography, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; Turing Fellow, The Alan Turing Institute; and Research Affiliate, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

digital-economies.jpgBillions of people at the world’s economic ‘’margins’’ are experiencing a moment of changing connectivity. In Manila, Manchester, Mogadishu, the banlieues of Marseille and everywhere in between, the world is becoming digital, digitised and digitally mediated at an astonishing pace. Most of the world’s wealthy have long been digitally connected, but the world’s poor and economically marginal have not been enrolled in digital networks until relatively recently. In only five years (2012–2017), over one billion people became new Internet users (ITU 2016). In 2017, Internet users became a majority of the world’s population. The networking of humanity is thus no longer confined to a few economically prosperous parts of the world. For the first time in history, we are creating a truly global and accessible communication network.

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Tracing our roots: Understanding African innovation

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By Youssef Travaly, PhD MBA, Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Vice-President of Science, Innovation & Partnerships, and Acting President, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Senegal


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-digital-technologyCan you name a famous African scientist?

Barely no one can answer this question, even with some thought. And yet, Africa is the cradle of humanity, and therefore logically, the cradle of science and innovation. So why can’t we name any famous African scientists? The simple answer is that we don’t know much about the history of innovation in Africa. The world’s technologically driven human progress can be divided into two parts: the “Africa” time with major discoveries, including tools, fire, mathematics and steel, and the more recent “industrial” read “western Europe and North America” time with major discoveries such as the steam engine, vaccines, antibiotics, computers and much more. In between the two, the world transitioned from more “informal” homegrown knowledge-based innovation to more “formal” scientific knowledge-based innovation. Within that context, Africa’s research and innovation, which often occurs outside the so-called “formal” innovation framework, completely disappeared from the global map of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Since then, “playing catch-up” has been the cornerstone of the strategy of every single African nation intending to adopt a knowledge-led economy. But do we really need to catch-up? What does catching up even mean?

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How to Build Inclusive Digital Economies

By Atul Mehta, Director, IFC, Telecom, Media & Technology, Fintech, Venture Capital & Funds; Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Senior Director, World Bank Group, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice; and Jose Luis Irigoyen, Senior Director, World Bank, Transport and Digital Development Global Practice

 

digital-economyIf we wish to create a future built on shared prosperity, digital technology will be critical.

Today, of the world’s 10 largest companies by market capitalisation, six are technology companies. And of those, only two were in the top 10 just five years ago — which gives you a sense of how quickly the global economy is being disrupted.

In fact, as technology innovation accelerates, it may be the best path to inclusive growth. Extending Internet access in developing countries to levels seen in developed countries could enhance productivity by as much as 25%, according to Deloitte. The resulting economic activity could generate USD 2.2 trillion in additional GDP and more than 140 million new jobs.

At the World Bank Group, we have been putting quite a lot of thought into understanding what it takes to create a successful and inclusive digital economy, in light of our mission to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. Technology can be a force for good — by promoting economic inclusion, efficiency, and innovation. But it can also cause upheaval — by displacing jobs or imperiling the security of personal and government data, and even critical infrastructure. And it can widen the digital divide — increasing the gap between those who benefit from technology and those who are excluded and risk falling further behind. That’s why technology’s risks and opportunities must be carefully managed.
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