We need to think horizontally when designing innovation policy. This was my main takeaway from the recent “Regional Innovation Forum for Europe and Central Asia”. The conference was organized by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank in Bratislava (Slovakia) and attended by 150 policy-makers and analysts. It focused on the key issues for the innovation policies in the region: Boosting economic growth, creation of more and better jobs, and social development. But how can innovation policy serve those goals?
I presented the notion of holistic innovation policy in the plenary session “Innovation for Growth”, which is the topic of our forthcoming book at Oxford University Press (Borrás & Edquist, 2018). During the discussions we agreed that innovation policy should not only be about the “exponential thinking” of disruptive high-tech and about creating new “Silicon Valleys”; but rather about “horizontal thinking” focusing on real problems and challenges of each society and economy, and on bringing different dimensions of the innovation system together. We agreed that horizontal thinking is in fact the backbone of holistic innovation policy.