The Rate and Direction of Innovation-Led Growth: a Mission-Oriented Approach

Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, University College London

April 18 | 1:10-2:30 pm
Harvard Kennedy School | Rubenstein Building | Room 414 AB (Democracy Lab)

Many countries across the globe are pursuing policies that seek economic growth which is ‘smarter’, more inclusive and more sustainable. Professor Mazzucato's talk will argue that the types of long-run strategic investments which such growth requires means public policy must be justified, nurtured and evaluated in a different way. Instead of policies being motivated purely in terms of ‘fixing’ market failures and/or ‘system failures', policies can be justified and measured in terms of their ability to create and shape markets—with markets as outcomes of the interaction between public, private and third sector actors. A market shaping process can benefit from understanding the lessons from ‘mission oriented’ investments of the past aimed at technological and societal challenges—from putting a man on the moon—to those that are today seeking to tackle climate change. The talk will reflect on key questions which arise from mission oriented innovation and a recent report that I have written for the European Commission (1) how to envision the direction of change, tilting rather than levelling the playing field, while enabling bottom up solutions; (2) how to create public organizations that can welcome the underlying uncertainty and discovery processes; (3) how to evaluate dynamic mission-oriented and market creation policies; and (4) concrete ways in which public and private can share in both the risks and rewards underlying the innovation process—so that ‘smart’ innovation-led growth can also produce ‘inclusive’ growth.

Related readings

Mazzucato, M. (2018), “Mission Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union”, ISBN 978-92-79-79832-0 doi:10.2777/360325 KI-02-18-079-EN-N,

Mazzucato, M. (2017) “Mission-oriented Innovation Policy: Challenges and Opportunities”, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose Working Paper Series, (IIPP 2017-01),

Mazzucato, M. (2018) The Value of Everything, Penguin, Allen Lane-Penguin, London, forthcoming April 2018

Mazzucato, M. (2013), The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, Anthem Press: London, UK, ISBN 9780857282521, US edition (Public Affairs).