SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

New Book: Mission-oriented finance for innovation – new ideas on investment-led growth

Launched in UK Parliament on 9th March, a new book: Mission–Oriented Finance for Innovation: New ideas for investment-led growth, co-edited by Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Caetano Penna, offers a challenge to the prevailing narrative on fiscal policies.

As the global debate on deficits and debt levels continues, and with elections in the UK and US this year, the book expounds that thinking about governments and public investments as ‘mission-oriented’ can move the debate on fiscal policies forward to help promote long-term, smart (innovation-led), inclusive and sustainable growth.

Speakers at the launch event include Mariana Mazzucato (RM Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation, SPRU), Carlota Perez (Centennial Professor of International Development, LSE, and Honorary Professor, SPRU, University of Sussex), David Willetts (Former UK Science Minister) and Dan Hill (Executive Director of the UK Future Cities Catapult). It will be chaired by Stewart Wood, Labour peer, shadow minister without portfolio and adviser to the leader of the UK Labour party (chair) and hosted by Policy Network.

Download the book and Listen to the podcast of the launch event

Successful ‘mission-oriented’ investments have brought us the internet, biotech, nanotech and clean-tech. They have also helped such major technological changes to get fully deployed – impacting productivity across many sectors in the economy. 

Yet, typically in the current election campaign and within parliament, intense wrangling over the size of deficits has deterred focus from the composition of public spending and the type of institutions that guide it. Indeed, the term government ‘spending’ ignores government as an ‘investor’.

This new book brings together inspiring words from practitioners working in mission-oriented agencies, as well as leading economists, on what it means to set a direction for change, and to welcome the risk and uncertainty that the journey implies. Mariana describes the timeliness of this book in her blog.

The book, published in conjunction with Policy Network is an outcome of a conference on Mission-Oriented Finance for Innovation (MOFI): Rethinking Public and Private Risks and Rewards, held in London in July 2014, which was organised by Mariana Mazzucato and Caetano Penna. It is a collection of some of the key contributions, themes and discussions from the event, which includes leading policymakers, business executives and academics from ten countries, notably; Vince Cable (UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills), Andy Haldane (Chief Economist, Bank of England), and Adair Turner (Senior Fellow, INET).

The aim of the conference was to change the conversation – challenging conventional thinking about the role of the public sector in financing the innovation needed for smart, sustainable, inclusive growth. One of the key themes was the need to go beyond the ‘market failure’ framework in economic theory, and adopt a market creating/shaping framework, where the public and private sector are understood in terms of sharing both risk and rewards in the creation of new market and technological opportunities.