Chapter 1: Perspectives and themes
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Innovation is a central pillar in government policy agendas that aim to produce a ‘resilient economy’ through competition and productivity. Through the centuries ‘innovation’ has been understood to encompass the creation and implementation of new knowledge and invention but the predominant criteria that governments use in the 21st century for its measurement link these requirements directly with entrepreneurial activity that delivers economic benefits to society. Governments have relied upon evidence that ‘innovation pre-eminently determines our prosperity’ to design policies that aim to foster innovative activities. These policies include support for investment in research and development as well as a range of other programmes, infrastructure and tax incentives. Innovation encompasses a spectrum of activity that extends from development of ideas, frequently within public research institutions, through to their commercial implementation. Hence, a succinct summary of the present concept of ‘innovation’ may be ‘the process by which new ideas are successfully exploited to create economic, social and environmental value’. A more detailed definition becomes necessary for the purpose of measuring the comparative success of government innovation programmes and policies. This appears in the current (3rd) edition of the OECD Oslo Manual: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data, a manual that OECD members use to inform their independent evaluations of domestic innovation performance: ‘Innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.’

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