Workshop: "Innovation disparities"

19 June 2019

Paris, OECD Headquarters 

 

Innovation activities are unevenly distributed across space. While this is not a new phenomenon, with the digital economy innovation hot spots – generally dynamics urban areas as exemplified by Boston, London and Tel Aviv – have gained in importance as they bring together top talent, attract important financial resources for innovation and function as living laboratories for many digital service innovations. Such trends seem to be reinforcing over time, despite the fact that digital technologies allow for wider opportunities for accessing knowledge at a distance and engaging in collaborative research and innovation activities across geographical boundaries – which should in principle allow for wider dispersion of innovation activities.

Evidence shows that dynamics of concentration are also in place at the industry and university level. Superstar researchers and inventors may have gained in importance in the digital age, as knowledge diffusion at large scale. Disparities at the industry level may also lead to ‘dual economy’ situations, where a smaller share of highly innovative and competitive firms coexist with a long tail of non-innovative ones. Such concentration of performance affects the extent to which different individuals, firms, sectors and regions can successfully engage in innovation ecosystems.

The purpose of the workshop is to bring together academics, experts and policy makers to discuss what we know about the impacts of unequal distribution of innovation activities across firms, research institutions and regions on innovation outcomes and wellbeing, and reflect about the implications for innovation policy.

Key questions to address are: To what extent are innovation activities concentrated or dispersed across regions, research organisations and firms? How are current innovation dynamics, in particular the digital transformation, changing the level of concentration or dispersion? What are the implications of different levels of dispersion for innovation outcomes and for welfare? Is there a rational for innovation policies to address such disparities? If so, what are novel approaches to address them?

The outcomes of the workshop will directly contribute to the OECD projects on R&D intensity and effective co-creation for inclusive and sustainable growth, conducted by the OECD Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy.

This workshop is organised by the OECD Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy (TIP). 

AGENDA 

9h30-9h45: Opening

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9h45-10h15: Introduction to the workshop

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10h15 - 10h45: Keynote address

Dominique Foray, Chair in Economics and Management of Innovation, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

10h45 - 11h15: Coffee break

11h15 - 12h30: Panel 1. Regional disparities in R&D in the digital age: top regions and the rest?

Questions: 

  • How dispersed is R&D within countries? What are the implications of different levels of dispersion for innovation and for welfare?

  • How are current innovation dynamics changing the level of concentration/dispersion, in particular the digital transformation?

  • Is it desirable/possible/important for more regions to participate in innovation? What are good ways for making this happen?

  •  What are the implications of regional disparities for setting R&D intensity as major policy target?

12h30 - 14h00: Lunch break

14h00 - 15h00: Panel 2. Firm, university and sector disparities in R&D

Questions: 

  • How dispersed is R&D across firms and universities? What are the implications for innovation and welfare of this dispersion?

  • How are current innovation dynamics changing the level of concentration/dispersion of innovation, in particular in view of digital technologies?

  •  Is it desirable/possible/important for more firms/universities to participate in R&D? What are good ways for making this happen?

  •  What are the implications of firm and university disparities for setting R&D intensity as major policy target?

15h00 - 16h30: Breakout session: Policy options to exploit the advantage of concentration while dealing with inequalities

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16h30 - 17h00: Coffee break 

17h00 - 18h00: Panel 3. How should sustainability and inclusiveness be integrated in STI strategies?

Disparities in the geographic distribution of economic activities can raise economic challenges (lack of diversity, lack of competition, etc.) but, most importantly, they affect welfare and consequently are important topics on the policy agenda. What is more, the outcomes of R&D are not just economic but also have diverse impacts on inclusiveness and sustainability. The final panel will reflect on how STI strategies should include those priorities and to what extent this is happening in the current context.

18h00 - 18h10: Concluding remarks

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