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Innovation’s much more than just R&D the OECD team that recently visited Wellington reckon.

“Firms collaborate with each other, as do scientists,” says Andrew Wyckoff, co-author of ‘Developing policies for 21st century innovation’ along with Gernot Huschenreiter.

They pointed out the greatly increasing quantity of international co-authorship among scientists, also noting, “have a look at You Tube too, a lot of that’s about sharing of information and knowledge.”

In a powerpoint presentation, the two showed how the global financial crisis has seen countries, almost without exception, throw more money at innovation (stimulus packages as they called them though). All countries, not just New Zealand, are searching for new sources of growth. (See powerpoint here at MSI site)

They also feel that ‘innovation’ is a slogan that’s in danger of becoming devoid of meaning.

But, moving on, they provided the following policy implications for a more collaborative mode of innovation.

• Erect bridges between the different parts, forming or joining a network – not necessarily more or new hard infrastructure
• Building networks through labour mobility
• Use of ICT to build networks, informatics as a multidisciplinary field and public depositories of information as a platform for innovation
• Developing knowledge networks and markets

The policy implications of global networks of innovation are:

• Build absorptive capacity: skills, institutions, access to networks
• Importance of services as a means of capturing value locally and gaining access to lead-users
• Universities are an essential node in innovation systems that can be the glue between actors, a local anchor into global networks and a magnet for global talent
• Building on existing strengths for dynamic comparative advantage through innovation

Policy implications for innovation as a key determinant of growth are:

• “Now, more than ever”: continue to support long-term investments in innovation (basic R&D):
o Not an “on/off”incremental investment, but accumulative
o Cutting spending could limit growth and the ability to address global challenges
• Not all policies require large public investment
o Reform and streamline existing policies; remove barriers
o Use demand-side measures (procurement, standards)
o Inject innovation into the public sector (e-Gov)
• Better understand the broader role of innovation and its impact on economic growth

Which brings us to the implications for New Zealand

  • Maintaining appropriate absorptive capacity
  • Fostering young, innovative firms
  • Using universities as a hub, magnet and anchor
  • Strengthening links across the system
  • Exploiting multi-disciplinarity: e.g. bioinformatics
  • Using ICT as a game changer
  • Seizing on domestic comparative advantage
  • Leveraging immigration/diaspora