Innovation and Innovation Policy from a System Perspective GID4105


Period 4a
Start Date 3 Feb 2025
End Date 28 Feb 2025
ECTS credits 4
Instruction language English
Coordinator Fabiana Visentin
Teaching methods Lectures; Project Based Learning; Presentations; Skills
Assessment methods Written exam; Presentation and paper, participation
Keywords Innovation; Market failures; Indicators; Innovation Systems; Innovation policy 


Full course description

Innovation plays a crucial role in promoting economic growth and how we understand and address global challenges relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

This course offers an overview of what innovation is and why it is important in various contexts and seeks to address key questions:  who are the relevant actors involved in the innovation process? How can innovation contribute to socio-economic development? How can we guide policymakers globally to design, monitor and evaluate policy interventions aimed to enhance productivity, sustainable growth or social or environmental goals, depending on the specific objectives or given scope? 

In the first week, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of innovation. They will be exposed to the key concepts to identify and describe the innovation characteristics: types of innovation (product and process), the impact of innovation (radical and incremental), sources of innovation (technological and non-technological), as well as bottlenecks and hampering factors. Students will develop knowledge of the ‘innovation systems’ approach and gain insights into the many and varied interactions between, and the roles of, different actors, institutions and contexts.   The second week will be dedicated to analysing cases where the market has failed to match incentives to the value of the innovation activity. This includes the problem of appropriability and the degree to which the returns from investment accrue to the innovator or to other market participants.  Students will also learn about enhancing capability and catching up, innovation from a firm perspective, the role of the Intellectual Property Right (IPR), and open innovation. 

The third week will focus on innovation indicators and innovation scoreboards. You will explore the challenging question of how to observe and measure innovation at the firm, industry and country levels. The objective is to familiarise students with tools and approaches such as innovation surveys, and to measure and interpret the appropriate quantitative indicators measuring innovation inputs and outputs. 

The fourth week will consider global perspectives and students will reflect on the question: how does one country achieve rapid economic growth while others cannot? We will examine opportunities opened up by globalisation and the rise of emerging economies.

Throughout the course leading innovation and development experts will deliver guest lectures to establish credible connections between the material covered and their application including in the context of international organizations. 

Course objectives

  1. Understand the nature of innovation; types of innovation, impact and source of innovation.
  2. Analyse new and emerging issues and types of innovation, e.g. social innovation, innovation for inclusive development, and public sector innovation.
  3. Access the systemic nature of innovation systems, identifying actors of the system and their roles  
  4. Debate the incentives to innovate
  5. Analyse the rationale behind innovation policy
  6. Evaluate relevant policy instruments related to innovation. 

As additional skills, students will acquire hands-on knowledge on a broad range of quantitative indicators to measure innovation performance (firm, industry, country) and learn how to apply them critically. You will also learn how to effectively debate policy-relevant issues.



Recommended reading

Greenhalgh, C., & Rogers, M. (2010). Innovation, intellectual property, and economic growth. Princeton University Press.