Mission-oriented innovation policy - RSA

Mission-oriented innovation policy


  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Economy

The RSA and the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) co-hosted an exclusive retreat session at European Forum Alpbach’s Political Symposium in August 2017.

The session enabled a group of city level policy makers and international stakeholders to engage with Professor Mariana Mazzucato’s world-renowned expertise in mission-driven policymaking to explore how it applies in practice using real world case studies.  The RSA and IIPP are now collaborating to develop a pilot project at city level to explore mission-oriented innovation policies in practice.

Challenges and opportunities - new report

Professor Mazzucato sets out the potential of this kind of policy-making in a new paper: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy: Challenges and Opportunities.

Governments across the world are facing a great challenge. On the one hand there is continued talk about austerity and the need to cut deficits. On the other the need for smart, inclusive, and sustainable growth.  But are these objectives – deficit reduction and challenge-driven investments – compatible?

Mazzucato sets out how mission-oriented innovation policies can help policymakers confront this question head on, starting with the insight that growth has not only a rate, but also a direction.

This means that while investments might impact on deficits and be costly in the short term, the long term pay off – in terms of economic growth and reduced debt/GDP rations for decades to come – is well worth the investment, and the patience involved.

Changing the discourse around wealth creation is key to this process.

Public and private sector organisations can form visions of what is to be created together, and how to divide both the risks and the rewards of the value that results. But the process requires public agencies to embrace risk and uncertainty, build explorative capacity and foster institutional learning. It is not mistakes that are to be feared but that lack of learning from them.

To fulfil a mission, a country requires an entrepreneurial state.

This concept encapsulates the risk-taking role adopted by the state in the few places that have managed to achieve innovation-led growth.

It is not the size of the budget but how it is invested. It is not government vs market, but the organisational capacity inside both the public and private sectors. We must abandon ideology and embrace opportunities that are calling to drive investment led growth and the challenges facing the 21st century. 


pdf 982.2 KB


Picture of Mariana Mazzucato
Director, UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose