July 25, 2018

Mariana Mazzucato - "Mission Oriented Research and Innovation in the EU"

The concept of "Mission Oriented Research and Innovation" (MORI) is being developed by Mariana Mazzucato as the core concept for her Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) at UCL is defining its goals.

In early 2018, Mazzucato has presented a report on MORI approach for the EU, upon request by Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

'Mission-oriented policies can be defined as systemic public policies that draw on frontier knowledge to attain specific goals or “big science deployed to meet big problems”.' - writes Mazzucato. The concept of missions will give, in her opinion, much needed direction for European innovation. Missions define challenges and opportunities in bold, ambitious ways.

What is interesting in the MORI model from our perspective?

  • Mazzucato works with a market-based perspective (seemingly not just because of EU's bias - the IIPP also works with a market-oriented framework), but sees markets as "outcomes of the interactions between different actors in the economy, operating in the public, private and voluntary sectors". Mazzucato argues that public interventions should not be developed from a perspective of fixing market failures, but rather one of "market co-creation". MORI is therefor a hybrid approach, which keeps the "market" rethoric but aims to significantly redefine it.
  • Mazzucato stresses the fact that missions, in order to succeed, need broad public engagement. On one hand, missions are meant to provide simple metaphors and means of understanding by the public of complex innovation strategies and goals. They are meant to inspire and engage - unlike the traditional EU innovation process. Mazzucato furthermore argues for public participation in the process of selecting missions: "some form of genuine participation of civil society organisations in concrete projects within a mission will be crucial to facilitate open dialogues on expected outcomes and practical applicability of solutions" - although there are no details given as to how such process should be conducted. Missions need to have a "social innovation" dimension and can even engage citizens in practical activities that complement high-level research and innovation.

In more practical terms:

  • Our "single digital commons" could be framed as a mission, as defined by Mazzucato - focused, for example on the core, bold concept of giving citizens control of their data, or of "cleaning up" the public digital space.
  • If we are able to build ties with Mazzucato and IIPP, we could benefit from a broad network of think tanks that she can tap into, as demonstrated by the extensive consultation process of the MORI report.