What role do universities have in generating innovation? To what extent does having well-funded, research-intensive universities shape the economic fortunes of countries?
These questions – and others like them – are being asked more often by government, business and academia.
The consultancy, McKinsey and Co. have conducted research in cooperation with the World Economic Forum. They identified three types of conditions that have historically led to innovation:
Heroic bets: large, government-led, targeted investment efforts that focus on a specific promising sector and provide substantial initial support in the form of subsidies, tax holidays, and direct investments, to name a few.
Irresistible deals: regions that are able to attract established companies (often foreign players) who want to capitalize on a significant local advantage, such as low cost of qualified labor or access to large local markets.
Knowledge oases: locations with a critical mass of highly specialized talent (for instance, a large research university or government R&D lab). These hubs capitalize on breakthrough technical advances for commercial success.
The results of the study have been plugged into a nifty graphic – an Innovation Heat Map.
“As part of this effort, we have examined the evolution of hundreds of such clusters around the world and analyzed over 700 variables, including those driving innovation (business environment, government and regulation, human capital, infrastructure, and local demand) along with proxies for innovation output (for example, economic value added, journal publications, patent applications) to identify trends among the success stories. In the process, we have found patterns that suggest the critical ingredients required to grow, nurture, and sustain innovation hubs. At the same time, we have compiled thousands of data points that may be used to identify bottlenecks and benchmark the performance of cities, regions, and countries by measuring how they are evolving.”