Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fostering green innovation

Presently sitting in a very interesting session on the above topic at OECD Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy.  More on this later.


Steampunk describes a world of airships plying the aether and mechanical computing based on Babbage’s Difference Engine. Artists show great imagination in describing a world where coal is still king, streets are gas lit, and rock oil has not yet been rebranded as petroleum.

They play with the ideas of lock-in and path dependence, a situation where a technology that may be inferior to alternatives still dominates because switching would create too many problems, or be too expensive, or where an early decision limits the options available later, even if the original conditions are no longer relevant.

A new study from the OECD Fostering Innovation for Green Growth looks at these issues too, but with more of a policy focus than say Steamboy or FreakAngels. It may be hard to see what government bureaucracies with their rules and procedures could do to promote innovation other than shut up and leave the innovators to get on with it. In fact, they can do quite a lot. History has plenty of examples of inventions and other innovations that came about thanks to public money.   Rest