Država kot zaničevani spodbujevalec inovacij

Aleš Praprotnik

Kdo predstavlja glavni motor za inovacijami? Konvencionalna modrost meni, da je to nujno zasebni sektor, vendar Martin Wolf v (sicer starem) komentarju v Financial Timesu piše, da je to v resnici država. Pri tem povzema knjigo Mariane Mazzucato The interpreneurial state, v kateri avtorica dokumentira inovacije  in razvoj nekaterih tehnologij in ugotavlja, da jih je v večini primerov financirala in podpirala država in ne zasebni sektor:

Yes, innovation depends on bold entrepreneurship. But the entity that takes the boldest risks and achieves the biggest breakthroughs is not the private sector; it is the much-maligned state.

Mazzucato notes that “75 per cent of the new molecular entities [approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1993 and 2004] trace their research … to publicly funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) labs in the US”. The UK’s Medical Research Council discovered monoclonal antibodies, which are the foundation of biotechnology. Such discoveries are then handed cheaply to private companies that reap huge profits.

A perhaps even more potent example is the information and communications revolution. The US National Science Foundation funded the algorithm that drove Google’s search engine. Early funding for Apple came from the US government’s Small Business Investment Company. Moreover, “All the technologies which make the iPhone ‘smart’ are also state-funded … the internet, wireless networks, the global positioning system, microelectronics, touchscreen displays and the latest voice-activated SIRI personal assistant.” Apple put this together, brilliantly. But it was gathering the fruit of seven decades of state-supported innovation.

Why is the state’s role so important? The answer lies in the huge uncertainties, time spans and costs associated with fundamental, science-based innovation. Private companies cannot and will not bear these costs, partly because they cannot be sure to reap the fruits and partly because these fruits lie so far in the future.

To, da je v resnici država tista, ki povečini financira tehnološke preboje, v resnici niti ni presenečenje. Za zasebni sektor temeljne raziskave predstavljajo preveliko tveganje za vlaganje, saj lahko trajajo leta in leta in še vedno ne bodo rodile otipljivih rezultatov, od katerih bi lahko imel komercialno finančno korist. V tem pogledu je zanimiv komentar enega od bralcev:

As someone who works in R&D the conclusions of this book are so utterly obvious that one wonders how anyone argues against it. Private industry is great at combining fundamental technologies to make a product, but utterly lousy at doing the fundamental research. This is not their “fault”. Investors want fast, predictable and secure returns.

Nekateri svet vidijo črno-belo v smislu: ‘zasebni sektor dober, država slaba’ ali obratno. Tak pogled je po moje kratkoviden in omejen, pa tudi nepotrebno konflikten. Zame edini pravi in smiseln odgovor leži v sodelovanju med obema komplementarnima poloma družbene realnosti.

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