Monday, August 05, 2013

On state's role in innovation

Martin Wolf in the review A much-maligned engine of innovation :
"This book has a controversial thesis. But it is basically right. The failure to recognise the role of the government in driving innovation may well be the greatest threat to rising prosperity."
Vernon Ruttan in 'The Role of Public Sector in Technolgy Development: Generalizations from General Purpose Technologies' says "Government has played an important role in technology development and transfer in almost every U.S. industry that has become competitive on a global scale.", one of the exceptios to the thesis being the electricity industry. He also talks of the rise of The University-Industrial Complex since the late 1970s, particularly in biotechnology. We now have this revolving door between government and big business indicated by The Guardian article Government bee scientist behind controversial study joins pesticide firm. A recent article by Amy Harmon A race to save the orange by altering its DNA indicated the pressures on the industry to find quick solutions. Possibly long term basic university research on such problems could have avoided the need for quick fixes. But it is not clear to me whether it is possible with all the pressures on funding basic research or at what stage of development a country should shift focus from basic research in universities to university-industrial complexes. Hopefully never but change has already taken place at different levels in different countries.

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