SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Mission Oriented Finance for Innovation Conference highlights

London, 22 – 24 July, 2014

The Mission-Oriented Finance for Innovation Conference organized by Professor Mariana Mazzucato, R.M Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation, SPRU brought together policy-makers, academics & business and banking leaders. The event was sponsored by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

The conference was characterized by innovative discussion with a diverse range of speakers and attendees from across government, business, the finance industry, academia and the media. A new film encapsulating highlights of the discussion over the three days of the conference has been produced and can be viewed below.

Highlights from the Mission Oriented Finance for Innovation Conference


At the conference, the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills, praised Mariana’s work for highlighting ‘the threat to innovation posed by short-termism and ‘financialisation’”.

In his keynote speech, profiled in The Telegraph, Vince Cable used the conference to call for an ambitious doubling on Technology Strategy Board funding to £1bn, as well as unveiling three new government initiatives aimed at nurturing and sustaining the UK’s world class science capability including:

  • a significant new investment of £30m via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council;
  • a “virtual library” of stalled pharmaceutical compounds, developed in partnership with the Medical Research Council and seven global pharmaceutical companies,; and
  • a new £11.5m Centrum building at the heart of innovation and enterprise at the Norwich Research Park enabling businesses to interact with the best scientific and research minds in areas such as food, health and energy.

The conference was accompanied by a series of blogs in the Financial Times Alphaville, written by several keynote speakers at the conference. The series, listed below, looks at how policymakers can ‘think big’ about the kind of technologies and socio-economic policies that can fulfil visionary ambitions to make growth smarter, more inclusive and sustainable.

1. Mission Finance: starting to think big again - Mariana Mazzucato

2. Mission Finance: why money matters - Randall Wray

3. De-financialising the real economy - Mariana Mazzucato

4. Development banks good in crises, even better all other times - Luciano Coutinho,

5. Safeguarding the future with public endowments for research - Arun Majumdar

6. Patient capital is a virtue - William Lazonick,

7. When are monopolies a good thing? - Izabella Kaminska

8. The importance of patience and the danger of information overload - Izabella Kaminska

9. How to forward a new golden age - Carlota Perez

In addition, Mariana’s pre-conference article in the Observer on ‘Smart countries are the ones creating and shaping their own markets - We need a new financial world order’ was deemed ’essential reading’ by Chuka Umanna, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary.

Further media coverage of the conference included two articles in The Guardian by Paul Mason, economics editor of Channel 4 News, on the need for our politicians to ‘think big’ and a blog in The Guardian by economics editor, Larry Elliot. Both refer to Mariana Mazzucato and Carlota Perez’s conference policy briefing in which they draw attention to the danger of leaving technology to the private sector and call for a “policy direction that is smart, inclusive and takes advantage of 'green' as the next big technological and market opportunity".

The three policy briefings written by Mariana Mazzucato, Mariana Mazzucato and Carlota Perez, and Tera Allas were viewed by 700 visitors to the resource page of the conference website.

Furthermore, some 500 people watched the live streaming of day 2, and over 100 people engaged in an active Twitter conversation using the hashtag #MOFI2014, with @SPRU sending over 250 live tweets from the event.

The Mission Oriented Finance for Innovation conference builds on Mariana Mazzucato’s work encapsulated in her book, ‘The Entrepreneurial State’ that has already influenced the UK Parliament’s policies and discussions in the US senate, as well as had a positive impact strengthening innovation, industrial and financial policies globally. Mariana’s work in the area of financing innovation has been supported by a grant the Institute of New Economic Thinking.
For more information and to view the conference programme, policy briefs and other resources, visit the MOFI Conference webpage.