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

  14 June 2017, Paris, OECD Headquarters 



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.

Speaker's biographies                         Workshop's blogs                          Presentations


Summary of the discussions


© Digital_Art –; – 

Objectives of the workshop


The workshop addressed the following two overarching questions:

  • What are the important dimensions of change to innovation across different industries in the context of the digital transformation?
  • What are the implications for innovation policy

The workshop provided inputs to the 2017-18 projects of the TIP on Digital and Open Innovation and on Assessing the Impacts of the Policy Mix for Knowledge Transfer between Industry and Science.  


9h00 – 9h30: Welcome coffee

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

  • Jerry Sheehan, Assistant Director for Policy Development, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA, and Chair of the OECD TIP Working Party.

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

Questions 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. Dr. L.J.M. Nieuwenhuis, Lector, Fontys, the Netherlands
  • Paola Bonomo, Digital Business Advisor and Early-Stage Investor in Technology Companies, Italy
  • Dr. Byeongwon Park, Center for Strategic Foresight, Science and Technology Policy Institute, Korea 
  • Frédéric Oru, Co-Founder and International Director, NUMA, France
  • Jun Nakaya, Manager, Public Policy and Business Development Office at Fujitsu Ltd and Vice Chair of Trade Policy Committee, Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Egon Müller, Head of the SME 4.0 Competence Center, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany
  • Harald Edquist, Master Researcher at Ericsson Research and Associate Professor at Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

Coffee break

11h45 – 13h00: Changing markets for innovation and new avenues for industry-research collaborations

Questions addressed by the panel: 

a. How are markets for innovation changing? What have been their impacts on new forms of collaboration in innovation?

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

c. How does the digital transformation affect the importance of geography in industry-research collaborations? What is the role of regional institutions? 

d. 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? 



  • Dr. Tiago Santos Pereira, Head, Studies and Strategy Office, Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal


  • Harri Kulmala, Managing Director of DIMECC, Finland 
  • Ania Thiemann, Global Relations Manager, Competition Division, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, OECD [by video]
  • Lars Frølund, Lab for Innovation Science and Policy, MIT Innovation Initiative, USA
  • Brian MacAulay, Lead Economist, Digital Catapult, UK
  • Tom van der Horst, Business Director Strategies for Industry and Innovation, TNO, the Netherlands
  • Julien Chiaroni, CEA - LIST, Saclay, France
  • Dr. Mu Rongping, Director-General and Professor, Center for Innovation and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Group photo

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), USA [by video]

Introduction to the Breakout Group Discussions:

  • Caroline Paunov, Senior Economist, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, OECD

15h30 – 17h00: Breakout sessions on innovation policies for the digital transition

Discussion items addressed by the groups: 

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

b. 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? 

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

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

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


Breakout group chairs

  • Wolfgang Polt, Director Policies, Joanneum Research, Austria
  • Göran Marklund, Deputy Director General for External Matters, VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems), Sweden
  • Dr. Kazuyuki Motohashi, Professor, University of Tokyo and Visiting Fellow to the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Japan
  • Prof. Margherita Russo, Professor of Economic Policy, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy

Coffee break

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

  • Sander Kes, Senior Policy Advisor, Directorate for Innovation and Knowledge, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Netherlands
  • Dr. Ana Nieto, DG RTD-OECD Co-ordinator, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Fernando Mérida-Martín, International Relations Deputy Direction, Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Spain
  • Kirsti Vilen, Ministerial Adviser, Enterprise and Innovation Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland

15 June 2017 (TIP meeting)

10h-11h: Workshop debriefing policy discussion: Policy roundtable on implications of the digital economy for innovation policy

Questions 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? 



  • Göran Marklund, Deputy Director General for External Matters, VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems), Sweden
  • Dr. Kazuyuki Motohashi, Professor, University of Tokyo and Visiting Fellow to the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Japan
  • Dr. Tiago Santos Pereira, Head, Studies and Strategy Office, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal
  • Prof. Margherita Russo, Professor of Economic Policy, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy