UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


About us

Rethinking the state: dynamic capabilities for dynamic collaborations.

Societies are faced with significant grand challenges—inequality, ageing societies, populism, climate change—that are complex and interconnected. To successfully tackle them requires a new form of collaborations and investments across governments, businesses and civil society. 

The Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) provides radical thinking about public policy driven by public purpose, offering a new lens through which to approach these grand challenges.

Key to the institute's approach is the idea that in order to achieve public value through public purpose we must rethink how policies are justified. The state can act as a crucial partner for innovation and structural change; more about co-creating and co-shaping markets rather than just fixing them. This also requires thinking about the dynamic capabilities needed to welcome experimentation, and how to evaluate activities in a dynamic way outside of the narrow focus of cost-benefit analysis.

Launched in 2017, IIPP is having a profound and global impact. It is an academic department within UCL that provides teaching programmes, research and public events, as well as actively working with policy makers to put its ideas into action. IIPP’s ambition is to combine all of its activities into a movement for change.

The institute is founded and directed by Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at UCL. She is the author of the highly acclaimed book The Entrepreneurial State, which calls for rethinking the state as a dynamic actor in 21st-century capitalism. IIPP is creating a system and curriculum for such a transformation.

A home for new economic thinking

IIPP is the home for new economic thinking and some of the brightest minds. The institute’s deputy director, Rainer Kattel is the winner of Estonia’s 2013 National Science Award for his work on innovation policy. Josh Ryan-Collins, IIPP’s head of research, is co-author of Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing—selected by Financial Times’ economics editor Martin Wolf as one of his top summer reads of 2017.

Its visiting professors include Carlota Perez, a world-leading scholar on the socio-economic impact of technical change and the historical context of growth and development, and Mike Bracken, the co-founder of the UK’s Government Digital Service that revolutionised the way governments view digital transformations as a citizen-centred process.

Its Advisory Board includes international thought leaders with practical experience in different types of organisations (public, private, third sector) to direct innovation—technological, organisational, social and institutional—in ways that produce public value.  

Research Fellows will be leading our key research streams in areas that include: rethinking health innovation, green economies for sustainable development, space economy partnerships, mission-oriented innovation policy, public sector innovation governance, and patient finance.  

The key pillars that support IIPP’s mission

Redefining the public sector
The institute is driven by the belief that when marshalled with skill and an appetite for risk, the state can act as a crucial partner for innovation and structural change. A co-creator of value. A co-shaper of markets. 

Creating public value and public purpose
The institute is dedicated to rethinking concepts of public value and public purpose—two terms that do not exist in standard economic theory—can be applied in the real economy and create a new framework for innovation-led public policy.

Delivering mission-oriented policies
IIPP’s work will focus on directing economic activity towards solving problems; developing missions to tackle the toughest issues of our time, from climate change to rising underemployment. Our research and teaching looks at how missions are set, enable bottom-up experimentation and how market-making policies can be assess.

New economic thinking
The institute will lead the debate about challenging existing theories concerning what constitutes ‘value’, and look deeply at how collectively created value requires particular forms of governance and collaborations that can nurture growth that is smart, inclusive and sustained.

Developing a new vocabulary
A new language is needed around the public sector if it will take on a new role and transform. IIPP will support a new narrative for public purpose focused on the value creation, building capacity, strategic thinking and embracing experimentation.

For more information, please download our leaflet.

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UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
55-56 Russell Square

General enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6173

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