Innovation in Cities and Innovation by Cities

Robert D. Atkinson February 8, 2012
February 8, 2012
Innovation is becoming popular. Economists see it is not accumulation of more capital that is key to improving standards of living; rather it is innovation.

Innovation is in vogue. Companies want it. Places want it. Why? Because the success of companies and places depends more on innovation than ever before. Despite its luster, many public and private sector leaders cannot really define innovation and therefore, stumble when trying to encourage or harness it. This paper suggests four challenges sub-national places face when it comes to innovation:

  1. Understanding the integral link between private sector innovation and public innovation policy in economic development; 
  2. Understanding that innovation comes in many forms and phases of production and development; 
  3. Focusing on not just innovation in places, but innovation by places, i.e. states and localities must themselves try new policy approaches;
  4. And finally, creating partnerships between places, especially local places and the national government. 

But before discussing these challenges, the paper first discusses why places should care about innovation.