As the global financial turmoil continues to cast its shadow, government leaders are gathering in Brussels to discuss collaboration.
A call for global innovation
In 1944, the world's leading economic and finance officials gathered at an obscure resort in rural New Hampshire called Bretton Woods. There, they sketched out a new world economic order that led to the founding of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Now, a growing number of policy analysts believe, it's time for another such meeting – updated for today's international knowledge economy.
A call for global collaboration in innovation is at the heart of an unusual international gathering of policy leaders on 2 June in Brussels. The conference is convened with the Science|Business Innovation Board, a blue-ribbon panel of leaders in European academia, industry and policy, in an effort to propel international action. Participants in the meeting include top officials from the European Union, India, Australia, South Africa and Finland – as well as senior officials of Microsoft, BP, the University of Vienna, ESADE Business School and other organisations.
A new world order – that's what a growing number of economists and policy makers are calling for as we go through the greatest economic crisis since the war. So far, the focus has been on conventional economic policy: monetary supply, banking regulation, markets supervision, industrial policy, and job preservation. But in some countries, support for innovation is also starting to be incorporated into the emergency policy agenda.
Money is only part of the solution. Innovation is a complex process affected by a welter of regulations, markets, and institutions – and so far, each major country has followed its own policy inclinations, with little effort at collaboration. That approach may have worked 20 years ago, but no longer. Today, innovation is a global issue, not just national or regional. A company like Microsoft, the world's largest private R&D funder, operates a global network of labs and research partners. In many scientific disciplines, crossborder collaboration among scientists is now the norm. And the researchers themselves are mobile, hopping from country to country. In such an environment, narrow national views are no longer adequate.
The Royal Academy of Science, Humanities and Fine Arts, Brussels, the venue for the Innovation Economy conference.
Photo Paul O’Driscoll
The Brussels conference, called ‘The Innovation Economy', features workshops on global entrepreneurship policy, climate research, intellectual property reform and other areas of international coordination.