UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


New working paper: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy

25 September 2017

IIPP Director, Mariana Mazzucato, has written a new working paper about the challenges and opportunities for policymakers of a mission-oriented approach to innovation policy.

People forming an upward arrow

Mazzucato's work on mission-oriented innovation is influencing current policy discussions about what a modern industrial strategy should look like.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee's first review of the UK Government's Industrial Strategy endorsed her recommendation that it should be mission-led to address societal problems. Her work is also cited extensively in the opposition Labour Party's Industrial Strategy and by EC Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas who has said:

"As Mariana Mazzucato said, innovation-led growth is not just about fixing a market failure but also about setting direction and shaping new markets."

Mazzucato is working on a new project with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) on how mission-oriented policies can help direct innovation towards solving key challenges being faced in Mexico, Colombia and Chile.

New working paper

"Mission-oriented innovation policy: challenges and opportunities" is the first of IIPP's new 'Rethinking the Public' working paper series. The paper is also published simultaneously as a joint report with the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) as part of their ongoing collaboration with IIPP.

In a blog for the RSA, Mazzucato highlights key points from the paper. She writes:

"Tackling the grand challenges of today – whether it’s climate change, improving public health or adjusting to demographic change – will not be achieved via the narrow, sector-based approaches of the past, but by the ambitious, cross-sectoral, goal-oriented approach that helped put a man on the moon, and enabled Germany to transition to renewable energy via the Energiewende programme."

The working paper outlines the challenges and opportunities of reviving industrial and innovation policies with a mission-oriented lens. It aims to spark new thinking around the following:

  • the possibilities of using mission-oriented strategies directed at solving concrete societal and/or technological challenges;
  • the importance of a systemic approach to industrial and innovation strategies, and the problems that can result when such an approach is lacking;
  • the need to see industrial strategy as an interaction between multiple actors in both public and private sectors;
  • the need for decentralised networked entrepreneurial public organisations to be positioned strategically along the entire innovation curve (e.g. not just upstream in science or downstream in procurement), including the ability to make bold demand-side policies that change consumption and investment behaviour;
  • ways in which industrial strategy can be used to direct a green growth agenda;
  • the role public investment banks can play in providing patient long-term strategic finance to high risk and capital intensive projects, crowding in future business investment.

IIPP is collaborating with the RSA to develop a city-level pilot project to explore mission-oriented innovation policy in practice.

Mission-oriented innovation network

For more information on the work that IIPP is doing with mission oriented policy and in particular through the Mission Oriented Innovation Network (MOIN), please email Professor Rainer Kattel or iipp-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk.

Further reading

"Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy: Challenges and Opportunities", UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose Working Paper, (2017-1).

Find out more about IIPP's work on mission-oriented innovation policy.

"A mission-oriented approach to building the entrepreneurial state", November 2014, Mazzucato's paper for Innovate UK.

"Industrial Strategy: First Review", UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee.

"Richer Britain, Richer Lives", Labour Party Industrial Strategy.