PRIME Series on Research and Innovation Policy in Europe
Edited by Massimo G. Colombo, Luca Grilli, Lucia Piscitello and Cristina Rossi-Lamastra
Massimo G. Colombo, Luca Grilli, Lucia Piscitello and Cristina Rossi-Lamastra Scientific achievements that make technological progress and the spread of innovations into economies possible are considered key factors in achieving sustainable economic growth and increasing overall welfare. The significance of science, technology and innovation (STI) as key elements of economic growth is well established in the economics literature. Although the micro-level transmission mechanisms that translate scientific knowledge into economic growth are far from being fully investigated and understood, the idea that the growth of an economic system ultimately depends on its capacity to produce new knowledge in a broad sense is a fil rouge that characterizes all the recent history of economic thought. To list just a few milestones along this path, one may start with Schumpeter and his celebrated Theory of Economic Development of 1934, and arrive at the endogenous growth theory of the 1990s (see Aghion and Howitt 1997). Along the way, it is worth mentioning Solow’s studies (1956, 1957) on technological changes and innovation as key components driving total factor productivity; Schmookler’s work (1966) on the importance of demand-pull factors for determining innovation – emblematically titled Invention and Economic Growth – and Freeman et al.’s (1982) famous study on the interdependencies between unemployment and technological changes in shaping long economic waves and economic development. Science and innovation have undoubtedly played a key role in the past. However, their role has become more and more crucial in the present and will continue to be so in the future (OECD 2010)...