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Innovation for Development

I am pleased to announce our upcoming teleconference series on Innovation for Development, which will be co-hosted by my colleague Dr. Nagy Hanna, C-PET Senior Fellow and former Head of Corporate Strategy with the World Bank.

Join us for the first in this series, in which we shall be joined by Dr. Shahid Yusuf. Details below, and you can register here.

Best regards,

Nigel Cameron
President and CEO, C-PET
Washington, DC 20002

Shahid Yusuf, Senior Economic Adviser, World Bank Group

Shahid Yusuf is currently Chief Economist of The Growth Dialogue at the George Washington University School of Business in Washington DC and Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University SAIS. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, and a BA in Economics from Cambridge University. Prior to joining the Growth Dialogue, Dr. Yusuf was on the staff of the World Bank. Dr. Yusuf has written extensively on development issues, with a special focus on East Asia and has also published widely in academic journals. He has authored or edited 27 books on industrial and urban development, innovation systems and tertiary education, which have been translated into a number of different languages.

Dr. Hanna introduces the series:

Innovation Policies for Development

Measures of productivity and innovation in advanced countries suggest a slowdown over the last decade. It also appears that innovation effort in the U.S (R&D spending by government and private sectors) is flagging, STEM skills are not improving, scientific literacy is on the decline, etc. Given these hard to reverse tendencies, many leading economists suggest that a resurgence in productivity growth back to the 1995-2004 level is unlikely. Recent EU's productivity measures are even worse.

Can the emerging new ICTs (the second wave like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things/industrial internet, big data/analytics, Robotics) revive productivity growth? The phasing in of such new ICTs may even initially reduce productivity growth. Some leading economists like Robert Gordon lean towards s somewhat pessimistic view of future innovation and its impact on productivity.

Yet, many futurists, technologists and business leaders believe the new wave of ICTs will be most relevant to transforming the physical industries, which still constitute the vast share of the GDP even in the most advanced countries.

Regardless of which scenario will materialize, the prospects for growing inequality are real. High productivity growth rates and thus the rewards, have been concentrated in cities and among the highly skilled. And the second wave is likely to accelerate the growing pressures on jobs and wages for the less educated and less advanced regions. Can new measures of innovation (and social) policies help ameliorate the ICT-driven inequality? Can such policies be devised to pursue inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth?

For developing countries, there may be more room for accelerating their productivity and transforming the whole economy. But the process of technology diffusion is slow to gain momentum and scale for both waves of ICTs.

Western policymakers are not pushing innovation policies as forcefully as they should perhaps because of scientific illiteracy, short sightedness, or simply because they are distracted by parochial concerns. Are the Chinese and Koreans any better? How about innovation and competition policies in developing countries and emerging markets?

A first teleconference in this series will focus scenarios concerning the future of innovation and productivity growth and their implications for advanced countries, and for developing and emerging markets.

A second teleconference will focus on the responses and practices of development finance institutions (DFIs, like the World Bank) in assisting developing countries to formulate their innovation policies, strategies, and programs at the national level? What are the typical problems with innovation policy making and governance in developing countries? What can DFIs do to promote and strengthen firm innovation? What practices can be adopted to promote collaboration between academic institutions and industry? Should governments prioritize innovation programs to promote inclusive growth and green technologies?

A third teleconference will focus on how to facilitate innovation and smart growth at the city level. Urban areas contribute as much as 70% of global GDP. But the economic benefits of urbanization do not happen automatically. There are many examples of cities with high unemployment and concentrated poverty. The new wave of ICTs promise clean services and industries, data-driven decision making, responsive online services, etc. What are some of the key approaches DFI institutions are adopting to promote innovative, competitive, inclusive and resilient cities? What strategies seem to be promising? How to induce necessary reforms in the innovation ecosystem of a city?

These are some of the questions to be explored in this series on innovation for development.