Agents of Change: Making innovation agencies as innovative as those they support

Nesta UK | Alex Glennie | Aug 23, 2019

NESTA agencies of change - Agents of Change: Making innovation agencies as innovative as those they supportMaking innovation agencies as innovative as those they support

This paper considers how government innovation agencies can become more inclusive, collaborative and future-facing in the way they support innovation.

National innovation agencies – defined broadly as government-funded or managed bodies that work to stimulate innovation-based entrepreneurship and growth – are often described as catalysts. It is a useful metaphor, but fails to acknowledge the profound changes that these agencies go through themselves in response to political, societal and economic shifts, as well as the changing needs of those they support.

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The paper concludes by suggesting some key principles to guide innovation agencies that aspire to be active ‘agents of change’. They should be:

Inclusive: representative of the populations they aim to serve, and actively engaged in understanding the needs of all kinds of innovators – not just those who are already best placed to succeed.

Collaborative: focused on learning from and sharing with others, and engaged in cross-national as well as international partnerships to design more joined-up policies and programmes

Future-facing: prepared for a range of possible futures, and equipped to proactively help innovators spot opportunities to solve the biggest problems we will face in the years ahead.

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