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Institute of Technology and ManagementNew Forms of Innovation - OECD

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New Forms of Innovation


New factors shaping the context. It is widely acknowledged that innovation takes place in an environment where a broad set of formal and informal linkages between different agents coexist (universities, research labs, firms, non-profit organizations, etc.). The literature on National Innovation Systems has recognized this trend and has inspired policy discussion since the beginning of the 1990s. However, the contemporary context of globalised knowledge economies is reshaping the scenario in which innovation takes place. The scope of innovation clearly transcends the purely technological domain for including new ways of doing business and new services. The boundaries between science and business are blurring and the process of carrying out research (basic, applied and experimental) is also changing.

Several factors concur to define the renewed scenario in which innovation takes place. Among the different factors, we can identify four major drivers of the changes in the innovation domain:

  • Globalisation. International scientific co-operation and international mobility of talent are on the rise. Firms also increasingly delocalize research activities and participate to international production chains. Those trends, together with the rise of new markets and economic powers, are changing the territorial boarders for innovation challenging current national-based policies.
  • The rising relevance of services. The transition towards the service economy reshapes the forms and the processes of innovation; it open spaces for new actors and it reconfigures the interrelation between scientific and technical knowledge.
  • The diffusion of the information and communication technologies (ICT) has induced changes in the organization of labor within firms and research institutions and has opened spaces for innovation which are increasingly “intangible”, like new business models.
  • The emergence of new technological platforms, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, is changing the room for innovation in science and in production sectors (manufacturing, services and agriculture). Innovation is increasingly cumulative in character and it might arise from new forms of combining existing knowledge rather than on radical inventions. The boundaries between scientific and technological knowledge areas are blurring making networks and cooperative efforts increasingly relevant

The analysis of new forms of innovation should identify eventual changes in the profile of innovators (which increasingly include additional agents beyond the firm unit, like consumers, universities themselves, or non market institutions), in the sources and the drivers of innovation (science, cooperative agreements and networks, etc.), in the new forms of appropriation of innovation rents (new uses of traditional mechanism such as patents and trademarks, and new forms such as open source, networks, etc).

The interest in new forms of innovation also represents a topic of great relevance for contributing to the dialogue with non member countries (especially emerging and developing economies). The increasing relevance of “intangibles” and the new forms of innovation might engender new forms of international co-operation for innovation with emerging and developing economies, which OECD member countries should take into account in their policies, considering the rising relevance of international co-operation for innovation in the contemporary global knowledge economy.

Date of expiration: End 2010


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