The Societal Challenges in the Innovation Process

The importance of innovation to securing sustainable and viable economic growth is widely accepted. With the Lisbon Strategy of March 2000, the European Council set as a strategic goal for the next decade to make the European Union “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” through innovation and knowledge. The acknowledgement by EU authorities that the Lisbon Strategy’s goals had not been met and their reformulation and greater specification in the Europe 2020 strategy as “smart, sustainable, inclusive growth” demonstrates that the introduction of innovation into the economy and its translation into greater development do not depend so much on decisions taken at the top but instead presuppose the existence of a series of societal factors. It is precisely these factors that are difficult to conceptualize using the quantitative indicators with which, as a rule, the performance in innovation of an economy and its society are measured.

In Greece, too, the difficult times, through which the local economy has gone in the past few years, have often brought to the forefront of discussions proposals for technological research and innovation. Even so, although offhand “historical” and “sociological” interpretations are often given of the insufficient research funding or the supposed failure of research to contribute to economic growth and proposals are made that range from increasing funding to abandoning scientific research, a proper consideration of the deeper causes of the state of research and innovation in Greece today is missing, as though they did not have a history. This circumstance affects adversely the effectiveness of the policies implemented in the field of innovation, by both European and national authorities.

The Institutes of FORTH have already devoted an important part of research activities to fill this lacuna by studying crucial aspects of the history of innovation in Greece and in the Mediterranean ambit (ELISTOKAINO project). During the implementation of this project, special attention has been paid to bottom up initiatives in the various sectors of the economy. In the workpackage on the societal challenges in the innovation process, specialists in the technology history and in industrial relations will be partially supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation on:

  • Policies for the protection of intellectual property
  • R&D record of selected Greek industries
  • Innovation in the agricultural sector
  • The effects of technological change and globalization on the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry
  • Industrial relations in a changing institutional and technological environment