Insights Review: Alternative Innovation Models


On September 22, ZIBS hosted an international symposium titled "Exploring Alternative Innovation Models from Emerging Economies: Policies and Perspectives." During the event, distinguished professors from around the globe engaged in discussions covering pivotal topics such as international knowledge sharing, respect for planetary boundaries, and emerging innovation paradigms. The insights review is as follows:



Breaking the "VUCA Era": Strengthening International Cooperation to Promote Science, Technology, Innovation and Inclusive Growth of the World Economy

Prof. BEN Shenglin (ZIBS, China)

We inhabit a world characterized by the so-called "VUCA" environment, marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This context brings with it ongoing unpredictability. More difficulties are on the horizon, including environmental crises, institutional breakdowns, middle-income traps, stagflation, and wealth inequality. There is no better time than now to address our concerns—but it will only be possible to do so by reimagining innovation policies, and capitalism at large, to explore sustainable alternatives, both through science, technology, and innovation and inclusive growth models. In pursuing a fair and just world, I believe science, technology, and innovation are paramount. International collaboration will help us capitalize on this potential. Disrupting global collaborations around science, technology, and innovation due to political motivations will have detrimental consequences for the world.


Beyond Profit: Embracing Equity, Justice and Sustainability in Innovation

Prof. TANG Mingfeng (School of Business Administration, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China)

For this topic, neither an individual, nor a single institution, nor even a nation can solve this problem alone. In China, the government cooperate with industry, university and research institutes and including individuals. We gather the forces together and help the poor areas and industries. We are not driven by profits. China really plays a responsible role to work with the other countries. I would say the new world depends on the cooperation among government, industry and science and citizens and you and me. We can do minor things but the minor things can make difference.

Prof. GUO Jingjing (Institutes of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)

We can see that currently, the open innovation of the manufacturing industry is confronted with both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, the intense international competition makes it urgent to strengthen the leading role of innovation and promote open innovation in the manufacturing industry to form new models and businesses. On the other hand, the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is reshaping the international industry. Digital technology has broken the boundaries of the manufacturing industry. This provides a rare opportunity for us to promote open innovation. Therefore, it is urgent to follow the open innovation trends of co-R&D, co-design, co-production, co-service and co-development in the manufacturing industry.

A.P. Saradindu Bhaduri (JNU, New Delhi, India)

The inequality that we talk about is not only about across countries but also within countries. There are instabilities that are becoming more of a recurrent feature, and our objective is to see whether a frugality informed innovation process can deal with these kinds of world order, which is having recurrent phases of instability. Scholars from history, sociology, sciences and engineering, and anthropology, are all coming together to discuss frugality or frugal innovation. We have also tried to break the disciplinary monopolies that have been built up around innovation discourses.

Prof. Carolina Bagattolli (Federal University of Paraná, Brazil)

Thinking about the potential of technological development to promote equity, sustainability and justice involves considering different dimensions of their relationship between science, technology and society. One of the challenges is how to coordinate efforts to act simultaneously on two fronts: on the one hand, the knowledge based on new international economic order, but at the same time caring for the local socioeconomic problems that are much more serious.


Finding Alternative Innovation Models in a VUCA World: What Incentives and Policies Are Required to Foster New Alternatives?

Prof. HUANG Can (School of Management, Zhejiang University, China) 

Electric vehicle industry in China has been developing very fast in recent years, so the Chinese model is that industrial policy plans combined with market competition. The Chinese planning system is divided by every five years with the thousands of experts involved in the planning. Mapping out a plan has been the most effective approach for technological development. I want to advocate for this alternative model, which essentially involves having two hands rather than one. This approach is superior to relying solely on market competition because, in that model, you lack alignment between government policy and capital investment in infrastructure. However, if you rely solely on planning, efficiency tends to be low, and there is no room for market competition. Therefore, combining the two, I believe, is a better model.

Dr. Joanne J. Zhang (Queen Mary University of London, England)

One of the indicators we know about strong innovation or entrepreneur ecosystem models is the number of unicorns. I think one of the policy implications is to think about how to encourage a variety of models to blossom. But the key question is, which model is more suitable for which area? So in local contests, local specificity is very important. I think one of the things that I like to highlight is the role of universities in the ecosystem. It's not just for teaching and research. There's a sub-mission that is becoming more and more important for universities: knowledge exchange. Now that we are seeing more and more innovation, it is probably because a bunch of digital technology is coming out of the social humanity and arts faculty.

Dr. Danilo Spinola (Birmingham City Business School and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy (FHEA), England)

I address this pressing concern that impacts the economy, especially developing economies worldwide, which is chronic macroeconomic instability. It manifests itself in the form of an oscillating inflation rate, capricious economics, growth patterns, and the recurrent occurrence of crises. I intend to explore how the resilience of a nation's structure in terms of its production capacity and the strength of its national system of innovation can then enhance the ability to withstand the absent flows of economic challenges and reduce this kind of volatility. We are trying to understand how the role of economic diversification and investment in R&D and the strengthening of this system of innovation actually reduce the fragility of those economies.


Exploring Circular Economy, Degrowth, and Innovations: Pathways to Sustainable Futures

Prof. Adrian Smith (SPRU, Sussex University, England)

We've redistributed science and technology, which happened in various ways in order to enable developments in health, in production, in housing, and so forth. What was really striking was that none of this would happen without social and political change. We needed some structural transformation in order to enable new kinds of innovation.

Dr. Tiago Brandao (Nova University, Portugal)

I would say that in our times, there is also a rhetoric of innovation full of promises that clouds very different political interests from culture wars and different world views on development models. There is an ideological struggle behind the narratives that use the appeal of innovation. The ongoing production of STI frameworks (Science, Technology, and Innovation) and models seems to be trapped in the never-ending cycle of a contrast between policy as a political business as always and the aspiration of transformative design. This is a huge challenge for our community of scholars because there is no lack of models and frameworks. We all have to think about innovation and other models for applying innovation to the common good.


Please stay tuned as we continue to share the review of the keynote speeches from the event.

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