Event: NESTA – Making Innovation Flourish … Reflections

A very worthwhile event and a great use of my time. I spend too much time in the Dundee-Glasgow-Edinburgh triangle and this was a superb opportunity to take a look at strategic developments in the UK and beyond. We already know that we need to get better at fostering innovation and creativity in our schools and I took a lot away from my day in London.
Highlights
Tessa Jowell, DCMS

Education is fundamental to our future success. Creative industries are crucial. High margin, high value, high skill industries to be fostered; low margin, low value, low skill will be increasingly moved offshore.

Esko Aho, former PM and President of Finland (now in charge of Finnish equivalent of NESTA) – Inspirational presentation
Advantage to small countries (Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Finland) used to having to adapt rather than being in control. Innovation defined as the opposite of imitation. R&D as process of transferring money to knowledge; innovation process of transferring knowledge to money (and welfare, health etc). Strategy for the future to include : creating a market for innovative products (US & Japan lead in this), providing resources for innovation/innovators, structural mobility (shifting from old to new) and positive attitudes to entrepreneurial activity. We are still using new technology to do old things. Those countries making the most innovative use of ICT will win the global competition.

Roundtable discussion chaired by Johnathan Freedland of the Guardian
Great contributions and a good discussion. General view is that UK is doing well in terms of innovation – but could do much better. World becoming increasingly complex. Contrast between ‘over-regulated’ UK/Europe and the freedom to innovate in the US. Attitudes to risk/failure also significantly different. Role of education continues to provoke controversy. We need excellence in engineering, maths, science but also creativity. Need education to support market drivers, ie we need a well educated public to use innovative products and services. Role of government also controversial: get out of the way or create the conducive conditions?

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