The Bartlett


Mazzucato cited in parliamentary committee report on industrial strategy

Mariana Mazzucato

20 March 2017

Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, who joined UCL this month, has been cited in a new report on Industrial Strategy from the UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, published on 3 March 2017. 

One of the Committee’s key recommendations - that industrial policy should be mission-based to address societal problems - is influenced by Professor Mazzucato’s research on mission-oriented innovation policy. In its Summary, the Committee says:

“We recommend that the Government reconsider giving sectoral strategies priority and instead focus on horizontal policies and specific ‘missions’ to meet UK-wide and local public policy challenges. This will make clear that the function of the Government’s industrial strategy – and of industry itself – is to solve societal problems and it will provide a clear focus for activity across Government and industry.” (p. 3)

Mazzucato submitted joint evidence to the committee with Professor Jim Watson in her previous role as RM Phillips Professor at SPRU, University of Sussex.  Mazzucato was also invited to give oral evidence. Their joint evidence, submitted by SPRU and quoted in the BEIS report, argues:

“Past UK industrial strategies have tended to default towards a sectoral approach. There are good reasons for this, as sectors offer a good organizing basis for solving coordination problems related to, for example, skills. But there are also risks to a sectoral approach, such as capture to private lobbying interests [ … ] This is where instead of driving to the frontier of new ideas, firms influence governmental programmes and policy making. Starting with problems, not sectors, helps to minimise this problem.” (SPRU written evidence, quoted on p.24 of the Report)

The BEIS committee report recommends that “a mission-based approach provides a means of articulating a positive economic vision and picking public policy challenges and allowing all sectors to put forward contributions to solving these” (p. 58).

Mazzucato joined UCL on 1 March 2017 to establish a new Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose to be formally launched in autumn 2017.  The Institute, housed within the Bartlett, will focus on how public policy can be used to give direction to economic growth and innovation in order to tackle societal and technological challenges.  It will build on her previous work on the Entrepreneurial State and Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy, which is having impact on policymakers around the world.

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