Workshop: “Innovation and the digital economy: What role for innovation policies?”


 14 June 2017, Paris, OECD Headquarters 


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The transition of traditional sectors to the digital economy is taking place at rapid pace, modifying established business models and generating new demands on innovation. Transformations in terms of business models include the following developments: 

  • The intangible component of production is increasingly important. For instance, manufacturing innovation is increasingly becoming "servitised" as businesses attempt to increase the value added in their product offering 
    (e.g. from "a car" to "a transportation service"); 
  • Networks and platforms are becoming ever more important and many manufacturing companies are trying to establish their own platforms; 
  • Innovation in a number of sectors increasingly requires combining different competencies as digital elements are added to traditional products as exemplified well by car manufacturing. 
  • Digital innovation has ambiguous impact on competition, as it tends to give rise both to active start-up creation connected to product innovation and low entry barriers, and to "winner-take-all" market structures due to economies of scale and network effects. 

The transition towards a digital economy may require a different approach altogether to take into account fundamental changes that may challenge countries’ competitiveness within a short period of time. Issues range from reviewing what types of policy support are needed to create vibrant innovation ecosystems; assessing whether procedures are sufficiently rapid and agile; and whether new instruments should be considered.

Objectives of the workshop


The workshop aims to address two overarching questions:

  • What are the important dimensions of change for traditional industries as they adopt the digital economy?
  • What are the implications for the design innovation policy

The workshop will provide inputs to the 2017-18 projects of the TIP on open and digital innovation and on the assessment of the policy mix for knowledge sharing. 


9h30 – 9h45: Introductions, Presentation of the Agenda

9h45 – 11h15: The digital transition of different industries: Changing innovation business models

Questions to be addressed by the panel: 

a. What are the new business model developments and trends brought by the digital economy? What are their implications for how innovation is conducted? 

b. What are the challenges that firms in different traditional sectors of the economy, including industry (such as car manufacturing, chemicals) and services (such as retail and business services) face in the digital economy? 

c. What are the opportunities and challenges that digitalisation brings for different actors in these sectors including small and medium-sized enterprises? 

d. What are views from industry on how innovation policy can best support a vibrant digitised innovation ecosystem? 



  • Prof. Egon Müller, Head of the SME 4.0 Competence Center, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany
  • Paola BonomoNon Executive Director, digital business advisor and early-stage investor in technology companies

Coffee break

11h45 – 13h00: New avenues for industry-research collaborations

Questions to be addressed by the panel: 

a.What role are universities and public research institutes playing in supporting business innovation in the digital economy? How is it different from the past?  

b.How do these new linkages affect the importance of geography in industry-research collaborations? What is the role of regional institutions? 

c.Are large emerging research consortia (involving both industry and research) the future of industry-research collaborations? Are these consortia conducive to innovation and job creation? What ownership model provides the best economic benefits to participants and the socio-economic context at large? 



  • Brian MacAulay, Lead Economist, Digital Catapult, UK
  • Julien Chiaroni, CEA, France


Lunch break

14h30 – 15h15: Keynote Speech: What challenges does the digital economy raise for innovation policy?

  • Robert Atkinson, Founder and President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) [by videoconference]

15h30 – 17h00: Breakout sessions

Discussion items to be addressed by the groups: 


a. What are open questions on how to design innovation policy in the context of digitalisation?    

b. What national policy approaches have been adopted to help support innovation ecosystems in the context of digitalisation? 

c. To what extent are the policy approaches adopted different from those of the past? Do they have to be different? What can optimise their adoption? 

d. Is there a need for more policy interventions or are markets operating efficiently in view of an innovation-stimulating economy? 

e. What are important issues for the TIP project on digital and open innovation to analyse? 


Coffee break

17h30 – 18h00: Reporting from the breakouts & wrap-up of the workshop

Workshop debriefing policy discussion as part of the TIP meeting, 15th June: Policy round-table on implications of the digital

Questions to be addressed by the policy panel and delegates: 

a.In which contexts could innovation policies intervene to support the innovation ecosystem? Is there a need for more or less policy?  

b.What are good examples of innovation policy instruments that support a competitive and inclusive digital economy?

c.How are innovation policies supporting the capacities and skills of business and workers to participate in the digital innovation ecosystem? 

d.What are the implications of workshop discussions for ongoing TIP activities? 



  • Wolfgang Crasemann, Head of Unit, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), Germany
  • Göran Marklund, Deputy Director General for External Matters, VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems), Sweden

Practical information

The OECD website provides practical information about how to get to the OECD Conference Centre where the event will be held.  

OECD Headquarters

2 Rue André Pascal, 75016 Paris

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