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Renewal was the main theme of our 25th anniversary conference. Renewing old friendships, tracking new trends, making way for new generations – especially from the developing world.
Under the banner ‘Future Perspectives on Innovation and Governance in Development’, the conference tackled not only our technological roots but also, thanks to the recent integration of the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, public policy analysis.
The meeting also paid tribute to our founding fathers and mothers: from Chris Freeman to Luc Soete, Richard Nelson to Lynn Mytelka. But it was clear from the start that our younger fellows and recent alumni should take centre stage with the old guard. Director Bart Verspagen said:
It’s very much a MERIT tradition… I started as a PhD student in the institute, and when I was just finishing there was the first big conference that MERIT had organised. It was explicitly the aim to give young scholars in MERIT the opportunity to interact with the big stars in the field. I think that has been the spirit for all the years to come and definitely now that we’re celebrating the 25th birthday it’s something that we need to keep.
This was appreciated by award-winning PhD fellow Alejandro Lavopa, who called the conference a “remarkable experience”.
This morning I was giving a presentation and among the audience was Richard Nelson… You can imagine that sharing this whole conference with such big names is, for a PhD student, quite an amazing experience. I’m really glad to have this opportunity.
Looking to the future, Verspagen is working step-by-step to further build up the institute. He wants ultimately to make a greater impact not just within the Netherlands, but also in the international community:
We want to have an influence in what the UN does, what other international organisations do, and what European level policymakers do. So hopefully within 25 years we can look back and say: ‘This is what we have achieved, this is what we now are – an influential think tank in this international setting.’
Global focus, global reach
For the 200 participants, the programme showed the depth and breadth of our global research (net)work. Speakers came from all over the world – from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America – to debate a range of social and economic issues. From ‘Innovation for the Global Economy’ to ‘Education and Global Governance’; from ‘China’s Economic Embrace of Africa’ to ‘Social Innovation in India’.
Many papers and presentations are already online via the session links. A number of brief video interviews from the conference are also available. Finally, for a thematic and geographic visualisation of all our sessions, please see the word clouds below.