Author, Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, University College London and Founding Director, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), University College London
Mariana Mazzucato: Biography highlights
Mariana Mazzucato (PhD) is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). She received her BA from Tufts University and her MA and PhD from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research.
Her previous posts include the RM Phillips Professorial Chair at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. She is a selected fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and of the Italian National Science Academy (Lincei).
She is winner of international prizes including the 2020 John von Neumann Award, the 2019 All European Academies Madame de StaÃ«l Prize for Cultural Values, and the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She was named as one of the ’3 most important thinkers about innovation’ by The New Republic, one of the 50 most creative people in business in 2020 by Fast Company, and one of the 25 leaders shaping the future of capitalism by WIRED.
Her highly-acclaimed book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths (2013) investigates the critical role the state plays in driving growth—and her book The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy (2018) looks at how value creation needs to be rewarded over value extraction. Her latest book Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism will be released in 2021.
She advises policy makers around the world on innovation-led inclusive and sustainable growth. Her current roles include being Chair of the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All and a member of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors; the South African President’s Economic Advisory Council; the OECD Secretary General’s Advisory Group on a New Growth Narrative; the UN’s Committee for Development Policy (CDP), Vinnova’s Advisory Panel in Sweden, and Norway’s Research Council. She is a Special Economic Advisor for the Italian Prime Minister (2020), and through her role as Special Advisor for the EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (2017-2019), she authored the high impact report on Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union, turning “missions” into a crucial new instrument in the European Commission’s Horizon innovation program.
Watch Mariana in action
Mariana's bold work is a challenge to the state to go beyond a guarantor against market failures into an active 'market creator, investing in the most risky and uncertain areas. An articulate and intelligent speaker, Mariana's lays out practical policy moves to stimulate an economic of innovation and tech start-ups.'
Research, Science and Innovation, European Union
'Mariana Mazzucato provides the Commission with a valuable vision at a crucial point in the drafting of the next EU research and innovation programme. Her report provides clear insight in how research and innovation missions can create impact with societal relevance and how to design and implement such missions. I believe this will be another important step in the evolution of how we invest in research and innovation at the European level.'
'A stimulating analysis of the underlying causes of inequality and growth which forces us to confront long-held beliefs about how economies work and who benefits.'
'Mazzucato's trenchant analysis is a compelling call to reinvent value to achieve the world we all want.'
'An accessible academic treatise worth understanding.'
'Your intervention unquestioningly caught the attention of the assembly and helped to make this Journee de l'Economie a success. Your advice and testimonies will be long-lasting memories.'
'Mazzucato's mission is to overturn the now dominant neoclassical theory of value. Mazzucato is seeking to recreate the dynamic public-private interaction - and the spirit of adventure - that led to triumphs such as the moon landings.'
'Mazzucato is fast emerging as one of the world's leading public intellectuals... [she] has offered the left a positive vision of growth based on innovation and profit-sharing, rather than sterile and counter-productive analysis based on the politics of resentment and expropriation.'
'Mazzucato is right to argue that the state has played a central role in producing game-changing breakthroughs.'
'A timely book about crucial concepts that have slipped out of mainstream discourse. An expose of how value extractors and rent-seekers have been masquerading as value creators in the global economy.'
Mariana's speaking topics
The Value of Everything: Distinguishing Value Creation from Value Extraction
Many of the world’s leading companies – particularly in the tech, financial and pharmaceutical industries – are at their highest “valuations” in years. But the numbers regularly trumpeted by CEOs, pundits and politicians do not reflect the real value of companies and of our economy as a whole. Mariana Mazzucato’s extensive economic research shows that while many companies believe they “create” value through rent-seeking and price hikes, they also remain dependent on public money to innovate and grow. Companies are in fact extracting (and sometimes destroying) value, while the source of real value declines due to lower wages, lower tax revenues and hostility to state investment in industry.
In this presentation based on her new book, “The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy” (Public Affairs, 2018), renowned economist and public policy expert Mazzucato analyzes where true value comes from in our economy, and reveals to business leaders why the amount of money generated by companies is not an accurate measurement of their long-term ability to produce, innovate and thrive. The problem, she believes, is that by accepting the conventional wisdom that delivering value for shareholders is the same as delivering value for the whole economy, we have confused value creation with value extraction. Mazzucato argues it is not just the public sector and taxpayers, but the private sector as well, that stands to lose from an economy whose real foundations are being continually eroded.
Her analysis is both empirical as well as theoretical—calling for theories of value to be debated again, as heatedly as they were in the times of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. In his excellent review of the book in the Financial Times, Martin Wolf writes that it, “forces us to ask ourselves what adds value to society and how to create an economic and social order that promotes that. The book itself adds value by forcing us to confront these points.”
Financing the Green Economy: Quantity vs. Quality
Bringing about the next generation of green technology is a perfect example of an undertaking that needs both public and private sector support. But simply pumping money into renewable energy and other environmentally friendly technologies can distort incentives, acting as a public subsidy for private industry. What was to be a public good can become yet another instance of rent-seeking at the taxpayers’ expense.
In this presentation, Mariana Mazzucato outlines how government can move from subsidization to a goal-oriented approach to investing in green technology, focusing on how particular countries specialize in certain niches of the green economy. By building legitimate public/private sector partnerships – and emphasizing the quality of investment over the quantity of funds – policymakers and entrepreneurs can ensure taxpayer money is invested wisely in a program of inclusive growth and innovation, all while helping stem the tide of environmental degradation.
The Entrepreneurial State: From Lender of Last Resort to Investor of First Resort
The role of the state in innovation should not be as corrector of market failures and “lender of last resort,” but as investor of first resort, able to identify key sectors and technologies for investment and drive the innovative process. In a political climate where the government is synonymous with lethargic bureaucracy and the private sector is the hotbed of innovation – as well as the unfortunate target of stifling regulation – this notion may seem counterintuitive and radical. But Mariana Mazzucato argues that nearly all great technological change has been the product of government initiatives, from space travel to the iPhone.
In this presentation, based on her best-selling book, “The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths,” Mazzucato illustrates how contrary to popular belief, the private sector has generally been timid in putting up the money for groundbreaking technology, only doing so after public funds paved the way forward, and provides evidence and a practical framework for rethinking public-private partnerships. If policymakers and entrepreneurs alike do not acknowledge and embrace such a role for the state, the innovative breakthroughs of the past are unlikely to be repeated.
The Rate and Direction of Growth: A Mission-oriented Approach to Innovation
It is taken for granted that governments should encourage economic growth and innovation, but pundits, politicians and academics sharply disagree over the proper course of action. Leading economist Mariana Mazzucato, who has researched and analyzed numerous instances of government-led innovation, says to truly invigorate a nation’s economy, a mission-oriented approach focused on solving major problems is required. Missions encourage, through public investment, collaboration across all sectors and industries toward a common goal.
Using the example of America’s efforts in the 1960s to land a man on the moon, Mazzucato says government initiatives should tackle modern day ‘wicked’ missions – from those tackling climate change to those around health challenges – shaping market forces rather than just regulating and correcting them – an approach that resulted in the development of Silicon Valley when the U.S. last had a truly entrepreneurial state.
In this presentation, which draws heavily on Mazzucato’s own report to the European Commission on mission-oriented innovation, the economist outlines how economy-wide goals, from removing all plastic from the ocean to cutting instances of dementia in half, can drive new forms of public/private cooperation, “crowd in” private investment and make the countries and continents which embrace them innovative powerhouses. She argues that while the U.S. is forgetting these lessons, China is rising on the world stage by embracing them.
Rethinking Capitalism: How to Engineer Inclusive Growth Through Innovation
The notion that innovation can help deliver economic growth for everyone without increasing inequality is a popular one with business theorists, economists and politicians. But in practice – where public funds are used by private companies to subsidize risk-taking – the rewards are generally reaped by companies, while the risks are borne by taxpayers. Mariana Mazzucato, who sees a vital role for government in risk-taking and innovation, says the key is not to withdraw the state as an actor in the economy, but to develop a new framework which socializes both risks and rewards.
In a modern, globalized economy where tax rates are far lower than they once were, devising a way to give government equity in innovative companies is essential to ensuring funds for the public welfare are not depleted. Based on her research and real-world involvement in such enterprises as the Scottish National Investment Bank, in this presentation, Mazzucato emphasizes the need to give the state, and by extension the taxpayers, a stake in the innovation they help fund, so the public at large (rather than just the private actors) can benefit from economic growth and dynamism.