UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


UCL IIPP Book Launch: Power and Progress

01 June 2023, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Power and Progress

Thank you for joining us on Thursday, 1st June, at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose for the book launch of 'Power and Progress Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity' by Simon Johnson in conversation with Julius Mugwagwa, Cecilia Rikap and Rainer Kattel.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







IIPP Communications

Watch the video here

A thousand years of history and contemporary evidence make one thing clear. Progress is not automatic but depends on the choices we make about technology. New ways of organizing production and communication can either serve the narrow interests of an elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity.

Much of the wealth generated by agricultural advances during the European Middle Ages was captured by the Church and used to build grand cathedrals while the peasants starved. The first hundred years of industrialisation in England delivered stagnant incomes for workers, while making a few people very rich. And throughout the world today, digital technologies and artificial intelligence increase inequality and undermine democracy through excessive automation, massive data collection and intrusive surveillance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Power and Progress demonstrates that the path of technology was once – and can again be – brought under control. The tremendous computing advances of the last half century can become empowering and democratizing tools, but not if all major decisions remain in the hands of a few hubristic tech leaders striving to build a society that elevates their own power and prestige.

With their breakthrough economic theory and manifesto for a better society, Acemoglu and Johnson provide the understanding and the vision to reshape how we innovate and who really gains from technological advances so we can create real prosperity for all.


  • Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Julius Mugwagwa, Associate Professor in Innovation & Development, UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP)
  • Cecilia Rikap, Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE), City University of London
  • Rainer Kattel, Deputy Director and Professor of Innovation and Public Governance, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Where: University College London (UCL), Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), 11 Montague St London, WC1B 5BP
When: Thursday 1 June @ 17:30-19:00 (BST) UK Time

Watch the recording of Power and Progress book launch now

Purchase a copy of Power and Progress

About the Speakers

Simon Johnson

Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at Institute Professor of Economics

Simon Johnson is the Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT and a former chief economist to the IMF. His much-viewed opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Atlantic, and elsewhere. With law professor James Kwak, Simon is the co-author of the bestsellers 13 Bankers and White House Burning and a founder of the widely-cited economics blog The Baseline Scenario. More about Simon Johnson

Julius Mugwagwa

Associate Professor in Innovation & Development at UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP)

Dr Julius Mugwagwa is an interdisciplinary academic whose passion is research and teaching on the governance and development implications of technologies and innovations. His most recent research endeavours - which included developing and deploying concepts such as 'policy kinetics', 'policy gridlocks' and 'innovative spending' - have focused particularly on technologies and innovations in health care and agricultural systems in low and middle income countries. 

He holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Biological Sciences, Biotechnology and Business Administration from the University of Zimbabwe, and a PhD in Technology (Biotechnology) Innovation and Regulation from The Open University, United Kingdom. Before joining STEaPP, Dr Mugwagwa researched 'cross-national technology governance' in Africa with a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship, 'innovative spending in health' with an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship, and served as a Lecturer in Development Policy and Governance at The Open University. An avid and creative innovation systems scholar, Dr Mugwagwa teaches on STEaPP's MPA in Development, Technology and Innovation Policy. More about Julius Mugwagwa

Dr Cecilia Rikap

Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE) at City University of London

Dr Cecilia Rikap joined City, University of London in September 2021. She is a permanent Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE) at City and programme director of the BSc in IPE. She is also a tenure researcher of the CONICET, Argentina’s national research council, and associate researcher at COSTECH lab, Université de Technologie de Compiègne. She is an advisor for Argentina's Ministries of Health and Productive Development.

Cecilia’s research focuses on the political economy of science and technology. She studies the rising concentration of intangible assets leading to the emergence of intellectual monopolies, among others from tech and pharma industries, the distribution of intellectual (including data) rents, resulting geopolitical tensions and the effects of knowledge assetization on the knowledge commons and development. Her recent work includes corporate planning of global production and innovation systems driven by intellectual monopolization and how these leading corporations, in particular tech giants, are developing state-like features, thus reshaping core and peripheral states. More about Dr Cecilia Rikap

Rainer Kattel

Deputy Director and 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 Rainer Kattel