Remarks by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD
10 April 2014, Washington, D.C.
(As prepared for delivery)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here today to launch this joint OECD-World Bank report on “Making Innovation Policy Work: Learning from Experimentation” together with President Kim. This report is yet another example of the excellent cooperation between the OECD and the World Bank, as we seek to promote better policies for better lives.
As President Kim just layed out, policymakers around the world feel a common sense of urgency to deliver strong growth, create jobs, reduce inequality and address the needs of the most vulnerable in society. And innovation policy can make an important contribution to address all these challenges.
Allow me focus on a few key messages from the report that we are launching today.
An experimental approach to innovation policy
The report highlights the importance of taking a more experimental approach to innovation policy, one that is based on systematic evaluation and improvement, learning from both successes and failures. More importantly, it provides examples of how to put this experimental approach into practice.
This approach rests on two main pillars. First, it puts a much stronger focus on monitoring and evaluation, which need to be embodied in programmes and policies from the outset. As important as building the technical capacities for undertaking such evaluations is fostering a culture of probing, experimenting and learning.
Only if policymakers are willing to also learn from failures – not just successes – can the full potential of the experimental approach be realized. This message is all the more powerful in the aftermath of the greatest economic crisis of our generation, when it is crucial that we draw lessons from our experience and improve our approaches to policy making.
Second, the new approach builds on close co-operation with private and non-governmental actors, who are often well placed to identify barriers to innovation and areas for policy action. Government agencies, such as Finland’s SITRA or Fundación Chile, are important in this process and can help develop more creative and co-operative policy solutions.
Some concrete examples
I would like to turn to the three new policy domains that President Kim just mentioned and that are examined in detail in the report: policies to promote inclusive innovation, policies to promote green innovation, and policies to make innovative firms grow. Experimentation in these areas is under way in many countries and there is great scope for learning and identifying good practices.
Making innovation more inclusive is a particularly important theme in the report. Following the economic crisis, the OECD's launched the Inclusive Growth Initiative and innovation is an important part of this initiative. Innovation needs to become inclusive by involving more people in the innovation process, by focusing innovation more on the needs of the poor, and by diffusing the benefits of innovation more widely across society. The report provides a framework for doing exactly that: learning from experience and scaling up successful initiatives.
On green innovation, the report urges policymakers to improve the effectiveness of their policies through more systematic evaluation, but also by drawing more on experiences in other fields. Policies to meet the health needs of poorer individuals provide important lessons for green innovation, for example.
The final theme of the report concerns high-growth firms, which are crucial to develop and scale up new innovations. A key question for policymakers is how they can increase the rate at which new technology-based businesses are created, improve their rate of survival, and assist them to grow quickly. Fundación Chile’s support for the development of a venture capital industry is one example of a successful search for an effective approach that is highlighted in the report!!
The topics covered in the report are central to the broader work of the OECD on innovation. Since the launch of our Innovation Strategy in 2010, we have developed our analysis and policy advice in several directions, building on our indicators of innovation activities, our Country Reviews of Innovation Policy, and our work on new emerging topics such as knowledge-based capital or big data. And we are looking at the distributional consequences of innovation policies and how innovation can meet the needs and demands of social groups. Just last month we hosted a Symposium on Innovation and Inclusive Growth!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I look forward to our continued collaboration with the World Bank. The OECD and the World Bank have taken steps to identify and diffuse good policy practices with the recently launched web-based Innovation Policy Platform. Together, we can scale up innovative policies and make sure that they best serve our policy objectives of inclusive and sustainable growth.