Open innovation – the economy booster

Open innovation – the economy booster

Greater collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors, improved productivity through the deployment of ICT and the encouragement of innovation to help deliver economic growth...

These are some of the key objectives lying at the heart of the Scottish government’s soon-to-be published innovation strategy for Scotland.

It’s a transformational strategy that has been designed to pave the way for the country’s future and, critically, a senior BT technologist has played a major supporting role in devising the strategy.

Mark Dames, a senior information communication technology (ICT) strategist for BT Design, has worked as a key partner to some of Scotland’s most senior civil servants to produce a framework for innovation that could help boost Scotland’s economy.

Edinburgh-based Mark took up a two-year secondment to work on the strategic report. He said: “It was a proud moment for me when I was asked by the Scottish government to help with the development of the nation’s innovation strategy. I’ve been given the opportunity to help rebalance the government’s approach to innovation policy for the good of the economy, which has been a fantastic challenge. As an ICT strategist with BT I was keenly aware of the role that information and communications technology plays in driving economic growth, enabling innovation and improving productivity - indeed research indicates that ICT exploitation accounts for approximately half of recent productivity gains in Europe.”

Greater collaboration

Added Mark: “Based on my work with BT, which included route mapping BT Global Services’ international ICT strategy, the government in Scotland asked me to help them develop an innovation strategy that included a renewed focus on achieving policy outcomes in pursuit of economic growth. There was also a requirement to promote greater collaboration between the private sector, the public sector and academia.”

Although the details of the strategic report aren’t due for publication until January 2009, it is believed that they will outline some interesting approaches to the use of next-generation technology.

As Mark explained: “I’m working with the Scottish government and a number of academic partners to better understand how next-generation information and communications technology can act as an enabler of distributed cities –in other words, cities that exist beyond geographically defined boundaries and which exploit the concepts of knowledge communities, cultural connectivity and place-making.”

“This very much includes the role that next-generation web technology can play in bringing people together – both in terms of improving economic activity and enhancing social cohesion”, he says.

Open innovation exponents

In outlining why he believes the Scottish government readily perceives BT as an ‘innovation company’, Mark said:

“I think that BT’s relentless focus on innovation and the rapid development of new ideas to take to market has been recognised as a key factor underpinning the company’s own transformation. Within government there is an understanding that companies such as BT have been pioneers in operating within the new paradigm of open innovation.”

Continued Mark: “At the core of open innovation is the idea that companies which look outside their in-house resources for ideas and technologies have better access to ideas, expertise and technology than those which rely solely on in-house support. This requires a move from a command-and-control to a connect-and-collaborate way of doing business – something which BT’s innovation culture fully supports.”