The Entrepreneurial State

I was half-listening to BBC News 24 a few minutes ago when I overheard a commentator say some interesting things about the role of government in the rise of Silicon Valley. She also mentioned that she had just written a book called The Entrepreneurial State, so I quickly googled it. It turns out the book is a Demos publication (with the PDF freely available) and the author is professor Mariana Mazzucato. It looks like a very interesting book indeed, making a case for an entrepreneurial state that is an active driver of the national system of innovation. This has moved to the top of my reading list…

The case that is made in these pages is that the role of the government, in the most successful economies, has gone way beyond creating the right infrastructure and setting the rules. It is a leading agent in achieving the type of innovative breakthroughs that allow companies, and economies, to grow, not just by creating the ‘conditions’ that enable innovation.

Rather the state can proactively create strategy around a new high growth area before the potential is understood by the business community (from the internet to nanotechnology), funding the most uncertain phase of the research that the private sector is too risk-averse to engage with, seeking and commissioning further developments, and often even overseeing the commercialisation process. In this sense it has played an important entrepreneurial role.