March 23rd, 2017

Feds’ innovation strategy inspired by economist who argues for bigger state role

By The Canadian Press on March 20, 2017.

OTTAWA – A U.K.-based economist known for advocating a prominent role for the state in fostering modern, high-tech growth is expected to leave her mark on Wednesday’s federal budget.

Mariana Mazzucato’s book, “The Entrepreneurial State,” is required reading in the office of Navdeep Bains, and offers a glimpse at some of the ideas behind Ottawa’s strategy to promote innovation.

Bains, who as economic development minister has been overseeing Canada’s innovation agenda, has had discussions with Mazzucato; sources say her concepts have influenced both him and his policy team.

Mazzucato, an economics professor at University College London, seeks to dispel the belief that innovation only happens in a free-market setting, with the public sector staying well out of the way.

She says risk-wary private-sector investors are often ill at ease with unfamiliar new technology, and points to success stories like Apple’s iPhone as evidence of governments making bold and lucrative early investments.

The Trudeau government will produce a budget Wednesday that’s expected to focus in part on its plan to foster an innovation economy across all industries.

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