The Swedish Ministry of Finance organized a seminar at Rosenbad on March 30, 2015. The OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria presented the 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Sweden. Discussants were Marie Gierz, Charles Edquist and Olof Åslund. Magdalena Andersson (Minister of Finance) introduced the seminar and conclusions were presented by Mikael Damberg (Minister of Industries and Innovation). Charles concentrated his comments on the fact that there is no growth in labour productivity in the Swedish economy since 2007, which is very problematic since productivity is so important for wages, profits as well as taxes in the long run. Since there is also a very close relation between productivity and innovation, he argued that efforts to pursue a holistic innovation policy should be intensified (and he also specified what can be meant by a holistic innovation policy). That expression has recently been used by the Swedish Prime Minister and it was also used in the concluding comments by Mr. Damberg. (This expression was in 2013 defined in Sweden is Neglecting its Innovation Policy! or Den svenska regeringen missar innovationspolitiken. See also: Striving Towards a Holistic Innovation Policy in European Countries – But Linearity Still Prevails!)
The OECD report included a discussion of innovation-related public procurement as a demand-side innovation policy instrument. Charles added to that discussion by stressing the very large role that “innovation-friendly” public procurement could play if the procurer describes functions instead of products – they should, for example, not order a sound wall along the freeway, but a decibel level in the apartments! See also: Sätt fart på innovationspolitiken nu – börja med upphandlingen; Offentlig upphandling och innovation; or Public Procurement and Innovation.
Finally Charles pointed out that important changes have recently been made in the governance of innovation policy in Sweden.
- The Prime Minister is Chairman of the National Innovation Council, established in February 2015.
- From September 2014, Sweden has an Industry and Innovation Minister.
- From September 2014, Sweden has a Minister responsible for public procurement. He will develop a national strategy for public procurement, which includes innovation-related procurement.
- There are also strategic policy discussions going on about separating the design of innovation policy from the design of research policy, which is necessary to abandon the linear model and create a holistic innovation policy.
Taken together, this indicates that innovation policy is under formation as a new and important policy area, and Sweden is relatively advanced in this respect.