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#0353: Problem based innovation

Gjest: Mariana Mazzucato

Professor in the economics of innovation and public values of UCL

Med Vert Silvija Seres

In this episode of LØRN, Silvija talks to professor in the economics of innovation and public values at UCL, Mariana Mazzucato, about why we must optimize stakeholder value and not just shareholder value, in addition to what we should know about taking risks and being innovative in the public and private sectors. UCL Professor, Director of Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose. Mariana, an author, focuses on the relationship between innovation and the direction of growth, with emphasis on rethinking the public sector’s role to ensure growth is more innovation-led, inclusive and sustainable. She works with global leaders on 'mission oriented' policies which can steer solutions towards grand challenges from the battle against global warming to building resilient health systems.
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Mariana Mazzucato (born June 16, 1968) is an economist with dual Italian and United States citizenship. She is a professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and the director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) at University College London (UCL). She is also a member of the Scottish Government's Council of Economic Advisers. Mazzucato is the author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths and The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy. In 2016, Mazzucato co-edited a book, Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth with Michael Jacobs. In 2013 The New Republic called her one of "the three most important thinkers about innovation".

Mazzucato's research focuses on the relationship between financial markets, innovation and economic growth - at the company, industry and national level. She works within the Schumpeterian framework of evolutionary economics, studying the origin and evolution of persistent differences between firms and how these differences vary across sectors and over the industry life-cycle. Her empirical studies have focused on the automobile, PC, biotech and pharma industries. 

In 2013 Mazzucato published The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths (Anthem). The ideas in the book were first set out in a shorter pamphlet for the think tank Demos, called The Entrepreneurial State. The 2013 book argues that the idea of the State as a static bureaucratic organisation only needed to ‘fix’ market failures, leaving dynamic entrepreneurship and innovation to the private sector, is wrong. She outlines a number of case studies across different sectors, including biotech, pharmaceuticals and clean technology, to show that the high-risk investments are being made by the state before the private sector gets involved. In a chapter examining the iPhone, she outlines how the technologies that make it ‘smart’ – the internet, GPS, its touchscreen display and the voice-activated Siri – were all Government funded. Two chapters in the book are dedicated to the emerging ‘green technology’ revolution. She details the public funds that she argues are laying the groundwork for this revolution in a similar way that the state invested in the most high-risk areas of biotech and nanotech. The book concludes with the author's contention that in all these examples, the risks were socialized while the rewards were privatized, and considers different ways to change this dynamic to produce more ‘inclusive growth’. 


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Norway is a rich country when it comes to public wealth, but when it comes to other economic aspects like trade, the ambitions could still be arguably higher. Should Norway focus on a broader economic platform than what our society is based in today?


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This is what you will learn:

Data driven economy Investment Innovation
What you require to get really interesting innovation, is different types of public and private organizations who are willing to take risks, and who are willing to invest in their own capacity instead of just outsourcing the knowledge. In order to do that you need to pay attention to, not just money and finance, but to the organization.

- Mariana Mazzucato

This is UCL

Founded in 1826 in the heart of London, UCL is London's leading multidisciplinary university, with more than 13,000 staff and 42,000 students from 150 different countries. UCL was rated the top university in the UK for research strength in the most recent Research Excellence Framework, and UCL is ranked 10th in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. There have been 29 Nobel Prize laureates amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff to date.