Government Attempts To Foster Innovation Are Wasted, According To Study

from the details-please dept

It’s tough to comment in detail about a recent study from Forrester that suggests that government attempts to foster innovation are wasted, because the details of the report are not clear. However, the snippets from the TechWeb article about the report certainly sound intriguing — and it would be great if someone who has seen the actual report could chime in with some more details. What the summary suggests is that government spending on innovation tends to be wasted due to a few different factors — many of which we discuss here. First, the studies that the government uses to support its innovation spending decisions are almost all flawed (surprise, surprise). Those in favor of the funding (i.e., those with the most to gain from it) present clearly biased and problematic studies supporting the funding, and the government still hasn’t learned to be skeptical of such reports. However, the second part is more interesting, because it’s a point that we’ve discussed at length over the years, but which isn’t often discussed in many other places. It’s that the government consistently confuses innovation with invention, rather than recognizing that invention is just a small sub-segment of innovation. Forrester actually suggests breaking down innovation into four separate roles: Inventor, Transformer, Financier, and Broker. Without more details from the actual report, it’s tough to say whether those are a good representation — but it is very good to see others trying to get across the important point that invention is only one part of innovation, and that our innovation policy needs to not simply focus on the inventor, but the entire spectrum of players in the process of innovation.

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Comments on “Government Attempts To Foster Innovation Are Wasted, According To Study”

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Chris Westland (user link) says:

Rings True

At least superficially, these conclusions ring true. The problem I see with funding for science parks (of which we have many in Asia) or direct funding for projects such as by NSF in the US is that they completely ignore administrative costs that are required to bring innovation into the market through products, consulting, education, legal work etc. I am not planning on paying $399 for Forrester’s report, so I can only speculate on what the roles of Financier and Broker are, but they imply venture investment, administration and channel management-development, all of which are seen as being too commercial for ‘pure science.’

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