IGL2017: making innovation policy more innovative - three important ingredients

By Albert Bravo-Biosca on Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

Drawing of a lightbulb

Today we are opening the IGL2017 Global Conference. Around 250 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from over 30 countries are coming together in Barcelona to explore new innovation, entrepreneurship and growth policy ideas.

We believe that innovation and entrepreneurship policy should itself be more innovative and entrepreneurial, so a common theme in the next two days is how we can make this happen. We believe three ingredients are important, and we will explore all of them in the days ahead.

1. New ideas

First, organisations that are more open to trying out new ideas and programmes, regardless of where they come from. In the same way that we always seek to encourage businesses to ask themselves what they can do better, policymakers should continuously question what they are doing and whether there are better ways to achieve their goals.

At the conference, we will discuss some of the new policy ideas that countries around the world have recently developed 

For instance, new models of anticipatory regulation that support innovative business models while still protecting society and consumers, or new public programmes that aim to make it easier for SMEs with substantial intangible assets to get access to bank financing. We also aim to exploit the collective intelligence of the participants to jointly develop new ideas on what else could be done in this space.

2. Useful failures

Second, organisations that are more willing to accept failure, and be open about it. If we never fail, it probably means that we are not trying new ways of doing things, and if we are not trying new ways of doing things, we are deemed to fail.

Obviously, not all failures are the same. Some are unnecessary and preventable, others are useful and unavoidable if we want to learn how to improve the impact of our policies

So at the conference we will have a workshop specifically focused on failures. What have been some of the failures that participants have encountered in their organisations? What have they learnt from them? How do their organisations deal with failure? What can we do to make failures something that we can talk about more openly?

3. Better evidence

Third, organisations that take evidence seriously, thinking about it upfront rather than it being an after-thought.

We need more evidence, but crucially we also need to improve the quality of the evidence

Several sessions at the conference will showcase examples of how policy makers can use randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to find out the impact of a policy change, whether it is a small tweak to an existing programme or a large new initiative (such as Finland’s basic income trial). But we will also consider other approaches, for instance to learn from large scale ecosystem level policy experiments, or to exploit the opportunities that come with big data.

Policy experimentation

The combination of these three ingredients brings us to policy experimentation: Testing new programmes at a small scale, scaling them up if they are found to work, while continuously learning and iterating to make them even more impactful. This is easier said than done.

So, at the conference we will hear the experiences of some of the countries that are at the forefront of policy experimentation

 We will hear from countries such as Finland and Canada, and how they are seeding a culture change within their government departments.

Ultimately, we hope that participants at IGL2017 will leave the conference with new connections, new ideas, and a new appetite to trial those ideas in their own organisations.

We will be posting all the presentations online and producing a series of summaries of what was discussed, so if you haven’t been able to join us in person, watch this space to find out more.

IGL2017 took place in Barcelona, Spain, on June 13 -14 2017

This blog was originally published on the Nesta website on 13 June 2017. Read the original here