International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development
IKED - International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development


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..:: Communities are striving to build the knowledge infrastructure of tomorrow
Around the world, governments and various regional and local authorities are increasingly active in finding out how to design institutions that are capable of helping to foster more constructive processes of knowledge creation and knowledge use. Increasing attention is notably paid to finding out how to build institutions that are effective in bridging between universities, companies, industry clusters, and government agencies.

Tailor-made approaches are required to implement solutions that work in each national and local environment. At the same time, much can be learned from international experience and comparison. Hard evidence shows that leadership is needed "from the top" to pave the way for wide institutional support and appreciation for constructive change, but that such leadership must be based on constructive stakeholder engagement. Examples of countries that display positive experiences in this regard include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland.

For a number of years, initiatives have been attempted to build a conducive local environment. Science parks and incubators have been seen as platforms for working out constructive local relations. Many such institutions have, however, been stuck in struggles to manage real estate and traditional tangible assets. New initiatives and governance models are needed, and under way, to build the bodies that can be more effective in enabling knowledge transfers, spurring mobility, and building synergies in support of innovation, potential high-growth start-ups, economic diversification and new jobs.

IKED has been engaged for several years in advising governments and organisations around the world how to design policies that can help spur better framework conditions as well as help create dynamic specific institutions, innovation and enterprise development on the ground. In this task IKED benefits from first-hand knowledge of reform agendas and project developments in the Nordic countries, as well as from a number of countries in other parts of the world as well. The following exemplify the countries in which IKED contributed to devising new policy initiatives or programs in support of the knowledge economy: Australia, the Baltic States, China, Ethiopia, India, Ireland, Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, Ruanda, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates.

 In this piece, contributed to IKED, professor Piero Formica, founder of the International Entrepreneurship Academy (Intentac) and member of IKED's board of directors, examines and outlines the next step under way as the old industrial park concept is giving way to a new generation of institutional fabric better suited to address the needs and opportunities of tomorrow's knowledge-based society.

..:: Implementing Innovation - in search of "bottom-up" that works
With innovation we refer not merely to the development of new ideas, or "inventions", but the introduction of products or processes that "work" - which meet with a real demand. For innovation to succeed, it is necessary that some individuals and organisations have the courage to take risk and try to introduce what is new and was not tested before, at least in the particular society or market at hand. In addition, however, progress will depend on the readiness of others to accept and adopt new ways of doing things.

For decades now, advancing technical progress has been intertwined with policy reforms in many countries, aimed at paving the way for enhanced innovation, entrepreneurship and new enterprise development. The urgency of improvement in these respects has been underpinned by increasing evidence that large organisations have a tendency to look inward and be defensive rather than welcoming new initiatives. Also, established firms tend to shed labor in search of increased productivity in narrowing fields of core business, making small and young companies the main engine of new job creation.

In practice, however, much remains to be done to build stronger capacity and free up more space for economic renewal. The scope for policy reforms has further been seriously comprised by the crisis in governance we now increasingly associate with populism. Paradoxically, the rise of the information society has been accompanied by disinformation, manipulation and the creation of "information bubbles", engineered by social media and new tools to tailor message to what individuals are prone to be affected, or convinced by. Policymakers that have taken advantage of this landscape, and which are are riding high in today’s world, have other priorities than reforming conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship in search of solving the outstanding issues, social, economic and environmental, of the modern world.

At the same time, the "new" breed of populist leaders know how to gain support from parts of the traditional institutional landcape, where vertical "pipes" and "turf-battles", within different strands of government as well as between public authorities and the private sector and other societal spheres, never ceased to exert a powerful influence. A divide similarly prevails between the public sector, academia and private business. Teachers' education and the educational system largely fails to fulfill the potential of new technologies and to breed much needed "soft skills".

Civil society, meanwhile, has grown in importance and is now widely recognised as a major force in identifying outstanding issues and in building positive energy in support of much needed reforms, e.g., when it comes to education or concern for environmental or cultural assets, which are often weakly supported by traditional policy institutions. Still, many authorities keep sensing fear when met with the forces of bottom-up initiative and responds defensively rather than constructively.

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