Launching The Innovation Renaissance: A New Path to Bring Smart Ideas to Market Fast by Alex Tabarrok
Problema: ora cha abbiamo colto tutti i “frutti bassi” del progresso, come tornare ad essere innovativi?
A cathedral rises
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore began to rise in 1296. From father to son, to son again, the architects, stonemasons and artists of Florence labored with love and devotion to produce the greatest cathedral the world had ever known.
Note:SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE
Unsure of how to proceed, the Arte della Lana, the guild of wool merchants who sponsored the cathedral, announced a prize: 200 florins and the commission would go to the best proposal to build the dome.1 Many entries were received, but the guild settled on the plan of Filippo Brunelleschi. The brilliant Brunelleschi had to invent new tools and techniques, but he proved up to the task and the dome was completed in 1436. For nearly 450 years it remained the largest in the world.
Note:PREMIO A BRUNELLESCHI DALLA GILDA DELLA LANA
in 1474 nearby Venice passed the world’s first general patent law.
Florence provided a free public education in reading, writing and arithmetic. Private schools and tutors, for both children and adults, were also unusually common.4 As a result, literacy rates were high as was commercial numeracy.
Note:LA SCUOLA DI FIRENZE
The Florentines were obsessed with innovation because they lived by their wits. Florence had few natural resources. The wool merchants, for example, imported wool from England and alum and dyes from Turkey, India and the Middle East. Combining this raw material with sophisticated technology, they produced rich textiles that they exported around the world.
Competition in world markets meant that the Florentines had to innovate to prosper, but world markets also gave them the means to prosper.
Note:COMPETIZIONE + GLOBALIZZAZIONE => INNOVAZIONE
Trade also benefited the Florentines by bringing them into contact with the world’s best ideas. Islamic artistry in silk, ceramics and metal inspired the Florentines, as did unmatched Chinese porcelain.
Note:COMMERCIO E APERTURA MENTALE
Thus, in Florence, the epicenter of the Renaissance, we see five factors propelling that city’s innovation: patents, prizes, education, global markets, and cosmopolitanism, an openness to ideas from around the world.
Note:I 5 PROPULSORI DELL’INNOVAZIONE
the early 21st century has not been kind to the United States… Most significantly, productivity growth, our best measure of innovation, fell dramatically in the United States in the post-1973 era and has not yet picked up again. The United States needs to innovate to thrive..
Note:XXI SEXOLO: ESORDIO PREOCCUPANTE
Innovation nation versus the warfare-welfare state
at the level of government, the innovation nation competes with the warfare and welfare state.
Note:CHI SPIAZZA L’INNOVAZIONE?
Together the warfare and welfare states, counting only the big four of defense, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, eat up $2.2 trillion, or nearly two-thirds of the U.S. federal budget. In contrast the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, spends $31 billion annually, and the National Science Foundation spends about $7 billion
The point is not simply that the U.S. should spend more money but that a state with these kinds of budget priorities does not have innovation at the center of its vision. If innovation is not central to the vision, then it is inevitably given short shrift.
Note:OGGI L’INNOVAZIONE NON È AL CENTRO
How would the innovative state approach the issue of health care? From an innovation perspective two facts about health care are of great importance. First, a huge amount of health care spending is wasted. A strong consensus exists on this point from health care researchers all along the political spectrum.86 More money will get you a much bigger house, but once you have basic health insurance more money won’t get you much better health care. Should Bill Gates get prostate cancer, his billions will get him a private room and a personal physician, but they won’t do much to extend his lifespan beyond that of a middle-class man with the same disease. But when you are dying, you don’t have much reason not to waste resources on health care, especially if they are someone else’s resources, so if not constrained you will willingly spend a lot to get little or nothing… The second fact is that although spending more on health care now doesn’t get you much, spending more on health care research gets you a lot.
Note:ESEMPIO DELLA SANITÀ: CURA O RICERCA?
Looking at the future, if medical research could reduce cancer mortality by just 10 percent, it would be worth $5 trillion to U.S. citizens (and even more taking into account the rest of the world). The net gain would be especially large if we could reduce cancer mortality with new drugs, which are typically cheap to make once discovered.
Note:QUANTO RENDE LA RICERCA?
Regulation is another area in which we have failed to put innovation at the center of our thinking. There are good regulations and bad regulations and lots of debate over which is which… even if each regulation is good, the net effect of all the regulations combined may be bad….
Note:REGOLE E INNOVAZIONE
Building in the United States today, for example, requires navigating a thicket of environmental, zoning and aesthetic regulations that vary not only state by state but also county by county. If building a house is difficult, try building an airport. Passenger travel has more than tripled since deregulation in 1978, but in that time only one major new airport has been built, namely, Denver’s. That airport is now the fourth busiest in the world. Indeed the top seven busiest airports are all in the United States, not so much because we are big but because without new construction we are forced to overcrowd our existing infrastructure.89 The result is delays and inefficiency. Meanwhile, China is building 50 to 100 new airports over the next 10 years.
Note:PROVA A COSTRUIRE UN AEROPORTO
The U.S. Department of Energy, for example, estimates that small and environmentally friendly hydro-electric projects could generate at least 30,000 MWs of power annually. That’s equivalent to the generating capacity of about 30 nuclear power plants. Moreover, since 97% of U.S. dams are generating zero power today, these projects would not require building any new dams. So what’s the problem? The problem is that building even a small hydro-electric project requires the approval of numerous agencies,
Note:PROVA A COSTRUIRE UNA DIGA
Our ancestors were bold and industrious—they built a significant portion of our energy and road infrastructure more than half a century ago. It would be almost impossible to build the system today. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the infrastructure of our past to travel to our future.
Note:IMPOSSIBILE IMITARE I NOSTRI PADRI
Moreover, few people lobby for innovation because almost by definition, innovation creates present losers and future winners and the present losers are by far the more politically powerful. Innovation has few champions.
NIENTE LOBBY PER IL “FUTURO”