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"Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn't lone geniuses but state investment. Now she's working with the UK etc."


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starspawn0

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https://www.wired.co...riana-mazzucato
 

Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn't lone geniuses but state investment. Now she's working with the UK government, EU and UN to apply her moonshot approach to the world's biggest challenges.

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to secure investment until it received a $465 million (£380 million) loan from the US Department of Energy. In fact, three companies founded by Elon Musk — Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX — had jointly benefited from nearly $4.9 billion (£3.9bn) in public support of various kinds. Many other well-known US startups had been funded by the Small Business Innovation Research programme, a public venture capital fund. “It wasn’t just early research, it was also applied research, early stage finance, strategic procurement,” she says. “The more I looked, the more I realised: state investment is everywhere.”

Mazzucato included her findings in a 150-page pamphlet she submitted to UK policy think tank Demos. It was distributed to thousands of policymakers, and received coverage in daily newspapers. “It was obvious that it had touched a nerve,” she says. “The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go straight to the core of the myths about innovation.” She decided to dissect the product that symbolised Silicon Valley’s engineering prowess: the iPhone.

Mazzucato traced the provenance of every technology that made the iPhone. The HTTP protocol, of course, had been developed by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and implemented on the computers at CERN, in Geneva. The internet began as a network of computers called Arpanet, funded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in the 60s to solve the problem of satellite communication. The DoD was also behind the development of GPS during the 70s, initially to determine the location of military equipment. The hard disk drive, microprocessors, memory chips and LCD display had also been funded by the DoD. Siri was the outcome of a Stanford Research Institute project to develop a virtual assistant for military staff, commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The touchscreen was the result of graduate research at the University of Delaware, funded by the National Science Foundation and the CIA.

“Steve Jobs has rightly been called a genius for the visionary products he conceived and marketed, [but] this story creates a myth about the origin of Apple’s success,” Mazzucato writes in her 2013 book The Entrepreneurial State. “Without the massive amount of public investment behind the computer and internet revolutions, such attributes might have led only to the invention of a new toy.”


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