UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


The evolving role of public innovation agencies in tackling grand challenges

06 June 2023, 2:30 pm–4:00 pm


Join this talk with global experts sharing how today's public innovation organisations are implementing ambitious policy agendas to shape markets.

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Watch the video here

Tuesday 6 June 2023 | 14:30-16:00 (BST) UK Time

What is the role of public innovation agencies when faced with humanity’s grand challenges, and how are they evolving to address them?

Our afternoon plenary session will focus on emerging practices and ways of working in public organisations to implement innovations and ambitious policy agendas to shape markets.

It will take stock of how the very idea of an innovation agency is expanding from innovation policy organisations to innovations labs and digital teams, focussing on their evolving institutional design, analytical frameworks, policy analytical methods, tools and scope of work and how that might evolve to take a more market shaping approach.

Meet the panel:

This talk is being moderated by Prof Rainer Kattel, Professor of Innovation and Public Governance, in conversation with:

  • Dr Susan Monarez, Deputy director, ARPA-H
  • Dr Christian Bason, CEO, Danish Design Center
  • Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor of the a2i Program of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the UNDP
  • Dr Alex Cooke, Director of Strategic Delivery and General Manager for the Missions Program within CSIRO

The event is part of the IIPP 2023 Festival: The Entrepreneurial State 2.0. - Rethinking the State in the 21st Century. 

Join the conversation on #IIPP_MOIN and #TheEntreprenurialState2.

About the Speakers

Prof Rainer Kattel

Professor of Innovation and Public Governance at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Rainer Kattel
Rainer Kattel is Deputy Director and Professor of Innovation and Public Governance at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). He has studied at the University of Tartu, Estonia, and the University of Marburg, Germany, in philosophy, political philosophy, classics and public administration.

He led Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance for 10 years, building it into one of the leading innovation and governance schools in the region. 

Professor Kattel has also served on various public policy commissions, including the Estonian Research Council and European Science Foundation. He has worked as an expert for the OECD, UNDP and the European Commission, and served as a member of E-Estonia Council advising the Prime Minister of Estonia. Currently, he leads the Estonian Government’s Gender Equality Council.

He has published extensively on innovation policy, its governance and specific management issues. In 2013, he received Estonia's National Science Award for his work on innovation policy. More about Prof Rainer Kattel

Dr Susan Monarez

Deputy director at ARPA-H

Dr. Susan Monarez
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) today announced that Susan Monarez, Ph.D., has been selected as the agency's deputy director. In this role, Dr. Monarez will assist ARPA-H director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D., in the agency's development of high-impact health and medical science and technology. Previously, Monarez led strategy, analysis, and risk management for ARPA-H and served as the agency’s acting deputy director during part of 2022.

“Susan is a globally recognized leader in health innovation with more than 20 years of experience working with high-level research organizations, including government, industry, and academia," said Dr. Wegrzyn. “Importantly, Susan exemplifies the culture that we want to create and amplify at ARPA-H, which will embrace scientific risk-taking to make leaps forward in accelerating better health outcomes for everyone.”

Prior to ARPA-H, Monarez was the founding director of the Center for Innovation at the Health Resources and Services Administration, the largest funder of safety-net health programs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Monarez also served at the White House as the assistant director for National Health Security and International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as the director of Medical Preparedness Policy on the National Security Council. In both White House roles, she led multiple efforts to enhance the nation's biomedical innovation capabilities. Monarez has also led the development of several Presidential-level national strategies, action plans, and policy directives related to domestic and global health.

Monarez served in leadership positions at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, as well as HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research Projects Authority. In addition to leadership roles within the federal government, Monarez has served on advisory panels at the National Academies of Science, National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, and Federal Experts Science Advisory Panel, among others. Monarez was also a U.S. representative on several international cooperative initiatives with the European Union, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in bilateral and multilateral engagements.

Monarez holds a Bachelor of Science and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in, respectively, microbiology and microbiology and immunology. After completing her studies, she earned fellowships with the American Association for the Advancement of Science in addition to the Stanford University School of Medicine. More about Dr Susan Monarez

Dr Christian Bason

CEO at Danish Design Center

Christian Bason
CEO of the Danish Design Center (DDC), a government-backed non-profit foundation working to advance innovation and sustainable growth by design.

From 2007-2014, Christian headed MindLab, the Danish government’s innovation lab, and from 1998-2006 he ran the public organization & management practice of Ramboll, a consultancy.

Christian is also a university lecturer with amongst other Henley Business School, Copenhagen Business School and the European School of Administration, and acts as adviser to businesses and governments at home and globally. He is a regular columnist and the author of eight books on leadership, innovation and design, including "Expand: Stretching the Future by Design" and "Leading Public Sector Innovation".

Christian holds a Ph.D. in design leadership from Copenhagen Business School, an M.Sc. in political science from Aarhus University, and executive education from Wharton and from Harvard Business School.

He is a member of a range of Boards and institutions, including the Royal Danish Academy, the Centre for Leadership (CfL), the Rockwool Foundation Intervention Committee and chairman of Novo Nordisk Biomedical Design; previously he was member of the World Economic Forum's Global Futures Council on Agile Governance and in 2012-13 he was Chairman of the EU Commission’s expert group on public sector innovation.

Christian is a Good Design Ambassador. In 2018 he was awarded the Creative Bureaucrat Prize by German daily Tagesspiegel. More about Dr Christian Bason

Anir Chowdhury

Policy Advisor of the a2i Program of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the UNDP

Anir Chowdhury is the Policy Advisor of the a2i Programmme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the UNDP. In this capacity, he leads the formation of a whole-of-society innovation ecosystem in Bangladesh through massive technology deployment, extensive capacity development, integrated policy formulation, whole-of-government institutional reform, and an Innovation Fund. His work on innovation in public service has developed interesting and replicable models of service delivery decentralization, public-private partnerships, and transformation of a traditional bureaucracy into a forward-looking, citizen-centric service provider. He is a regular speaker in international conferences on public service innovation and reform, digital financial inclusion, civil registration and digital identity management, SDGs, youth and community empowerment, educational transformation, public-private partnerships, and South-South Cooperation.

He is a member of the Prime Minister’s National Digital Task Force, Education Minister’s National Blended Education Task Force, WWW Foundation Alliance for Affordable Internet’s Advisory Council, and WEF and UNICEF’s Knowledge and Information Network for Digital Learning and Education’s Steering Committee. He is the Co-Chair of WEF’s Regional Action Group for Digital Transformation and a Deputy Champion of WEF’s EDISON Alliance to improve education, healthcare and financial services for 1 billion people worldwide. He is the Co-Founder and Board Member of South-South Network for Public Service Innovation (SSN4PSI) and Co-Founder of the Future of Work Lab in Asia Pacific. He co-founded several software and service companies and non-profit organizations in the US and Bangladesh. Anir graduated magna cum laude in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from Brown University and did post-graduate work on management, marketing, educational transformation and public sector reform in Harvard, Columbia, Boston, Bradford and Oxford universities. He was a Chevening Fellow and currently a Visiting Fellow of Practice at Oxford.

Dr Alex Cooke

Director of Strategic Delivery and General Manager for the Missions Program within CSIRO

Director of Strategic Delivery and General Manager for the Missions Program within CSIRO
Dr Alex Cooke is the General Manager for the Missions Program within CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency. Prior to this role, Alex was based in Brussels as Australia's Industry, Innovation and Science Counsellor (Europe), supporting the Australian Government's engagement in Europe in areas including hydrogen, critical minerals, space, technology and the digital economy.

He was Australia's representative on the OECD's science, technology and innovation-related committees, represented Australia on technology and digital issues at the G7 and G20 and managed the bilateral science and innovation relationship with the EU. Before working in Brussels, Alex led a range of science policy functions in Australia’s Ministry for Industry, Innovation and Science. More about Dr Alex Cooke