The Swedish National Innovation Council (NIC) was created in February 2015 by the Prime Minister (Stefan Löfven) who is also personally charing the 4-7 hour meetings four times per year. Very little information about the operation of the Swedish NIC is publicly available – there are no official minutes or reports. Having been a member of NIC since its start, I felt that I could contribute to mitigating this shortage of information and analysis. Hence, this paper is based upon my experiences both as an innovation researcher and as a member of NIC. Having played a role on the council has, however, made writing this article a very delicate task.
The article can be downloaded at: http://wp.circle.lu.se/upload/CIRCLE/workingpapers/201624_edquist.pdf
The existence of NIC has given innovation policy issues a much higher status and degree of importance both within the government itself and within government agencies, i.e. in the entire state apparatus. NIC is focussed on innovation policy in a holistic way (and not on research policy – for which there is another council in Sweden). NIC has thereby become a major governance instrument to transform Swedish innovation policy from being linear towards becoming holistic. The continued separation between innovation policy and research policy is very important if the linear view shall lose its dominance in the field of innovation policy.
The Swedish NIC is described and analyzed in the paper and its operation is exemplified by four types of NIC activity. I show that two of these activities have already been directly successful in influencing innovation policy in practice (state risk capital provision and innovation-related public procurement) and that an interesting development has been taking place in the other two (holistic innovation policy and additionality). These examples are placed within a framework of the relevant innovation theory and of the development of innovation policy in a larger context.