Mission-Oriented Finance for Innovation: top-down missions or bottom-up causes?

Andy Stirling, co-director of STEPS, will be a speaker at the conference Mission-Oriented Finance for Innovation on 22-24 July in London, which examines the important role of public sector agencies in tackling societal challenges through innovation. The conference is organised by Prof Mariana Mazzucato of SPRU with Prof L. Randall Wray (UMKC & Levy Institute, USA).

Prof Stirling is part of a panel on ‘Mission-oriented finance for smart and inclusive growth’ on the third day of the conference, with a contribution entitled ‘From top-down missions to bottom-up causes’.

A limited number of tickets are available to the general public free of charge through the conference registration page.


From the website:

“The role of the state in modern capitalism has gone beyond fixing ‘market failures’. Those regions and countries that have succeeded in achieving ‘smart’ innovation-led growth have benefited from long-term visionary ‘mission-oriented’ policies — from putting a man on the moon to tackling societal challenges such as climate change and the well-being of an ageing population. In addressing these missions, public sector agencies have led the way, investing along the entire innovation chain and courageously  defining new high-risk directions. Traditional cost-benefit analysis and market failure justifications would have halted these investments from the start. No internet, no biotech, no nanotech. And today no clean-tech.

To fulfill this mission-oriented function, state agencies — from DARPA in the US to the China Development Bank — have been willing to welcome failure and tackle extreme uncertainty. How do they do it? What are the challenges ahead? Should government step back, or step up? And how can we socialize both risks and rewards so that economic growth is not only ‘smart’ but also ‘inclusive’?

Such investments would not lead to commercialization without a private sector able and willing to engage along the innovation chain. Is financialization putting such engagement under threat? If so, how can innovation policy also promote de-financialization?”


Keynote speakers at the conference include Vince Cable (UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills), Luciano Coutinho (BNDES), Giovanni Dosi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna), Andy Haldane (Chief Economist at the Bank of England), Mariana Mazzucato, Kit Malthouse (Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise), Paul Mason (Channel 4 News), Carlota Perez (LSE), Johan Schot (SPRU director), Adair Turner (INET) and L. Randall Wray.