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IN CONVERSATION -18 | BEN Martin with Sandro Mendonca

The 'IN CONVERSATION' series portray prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. The 18th episode features BEN MARTIN in a deep conversation with Sandro Mendonca on 23rd-April-2024. Co-organised with the IS-DISCUSSION-GROUP, CSIRO, Australia

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IN CONVERSATION -18 | BEN Martin with Sandro Mendonca
IN CONVERSATION -18 | BEN Martin with Sandro Mendonca

Time & Location

23 Apr 2024, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm UTC

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About the Event

About the Event

The IN CONVERSATION series portrays prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. In the 18th event BEN MARTIN  will be interviewed by SANDRO MENDONCA. Panel of discussants: DIANA HICKS, PAUL NIGHTINGALE and JEREMY HALL. The event will be moderated by ABIODUN EGBETOKUN.

This panel is co-organised with the IS-Discussion group, CSIRO, Australia

READ MORE....................Click the link below

On 23 APRIL, 2024 (TUESDAY)

At 1 PM GMT | 1 PM UK 

9 am-Atlanta | 1 pm-London | 2 pm-Denmark | 3 pm-South Africa | 4 pm-EAT | 6.30 pm-India | 12.00 am (24th) Canberra

Structure of the program (2 hours split up as follows)

Brief intro to the program and introducing SANDRO by ABIODUN, Moderator (5 minutes)

i. Introductory remarks by SANDRO and BEN is introduced (10 minutes) followed by a conversation between them as follows

ii. Formative years and major influences - (10 minutes)

iii. Contributions, Critique and weakness, Current work & future course - (35 minutes): starting from the important contributions of  BEN , evolving towards a critical evaluation of his work. Then moving on to discussions on what next given the changing circumstances, how the theoretical contributions are relevant in current circumstances etc. It is a platform to convey what they want future generations to take from  BEN  and how they can further develop standing on the strong base that was created.

iv. Comment on Status of Innovation Economics and what next? - (10 minutes)

Some of the possible questions could be the following. However the speakers can shape it the way they want it to be!· How did you end up doing research on innovation?· What were your most important contributions to the field?· To what degree have you engaged in teamwork and collective research?· How do you see the relationship between economics and innovation studies?· How do you see the role of innovation policy and innovation politics in development strategies?· How do you see the future for innovation studies?· At what level should we study innovation – micro, meso and macro?· What kind of methods should we use to study innovation and economic development?· What kind of advice would you like to give to young innovation scholars?· What role can innovation play in meeting global challenges?

B  R E A K - 5 MINUTES

v. Discussion (1 hour): For the 1 hour discussion a panel of 3 scholars (DIANA HICKS, PAUL NIGHTINGALE and JEREMY HALL ) will ask questions and / or make comments on  BEN 's work. After  BEN 's response to them the forum will be open for questions from the audience.

Finally SANDRO winds up the session with a vote of thanks.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

BEN MARTIN (Auto biographical note exclusively prepared for this event)

My life in Science Policy and in SPRU

I was born and brought up in Devon, one of five children in a family that placed great emphasis on education, working hard and ‘doing your best’. At the various schools I attended in Devon, I was a rather studious pupil, not least because I was not very good at sports!

In secondary school, I ended up specialising in sciences, inspired by a truly formidable (even rather frightening) physics teacher and by a chemistry teacher who identified the life of a university ‘don’ as something to aspire to. As I entered the Science 6th Form, a boy one year ahead of me won an unconditional offer (ie. acceptance regardless of what A level results he went on to achieve) at Churchill College, Cambridge, which inspired me to do the same. I later sat the Cambridge Entrance and Scholarship exam with nothing to lose and won a scholarship.

Between school and university in 1970, I worked as a Student Scientific Assistant at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, my aim being to find out what life in a scientific laboratory was like. In the Theoretical Physics Division, I learned how to program the IBM 360 mainframe computer using Fortran, my big achievement being to find and correct a mistake in a commonly used program that caused it occasionally to malfunction.

At Cambridge University in October 1970 I embarked on a degree in Natural Sciences, taking four subjects in the first year before eventually specialising in physics. Benefiting from some great supervisors, I graduated in 1973 with a ‘First’. However, I also took full advantage of the opportunities at Cambridge to explore other interests including films, student journalism, music (heavy rock!) and parties. I also finally found a sport where I was quite good, namely rowing, winning an oar in the Lent and May ‘Bumps’ in the Churchill College First VIII.

As an undergraduate at the start of the 1970s, I was part of the idealistic generation of students intent on changing the world. At Cambridge, besides taking part in various protests, I became particularly interested in the issue of ‘Science and Society’ – i.e. was science being used for the full benefit of humankind? In pursuit of an answer, I would duck out of physics to attend lectures and seminars by economists, sociologists and others, as well as joining the British Society for Social Responsibility on Science. I was much influenced by the books and lectures of JK Galbraith (on sabbatical in Cambridge that year and who I had the privilege of sitting next to at one college dinner) and by John Rawls’ classic, A Theory of Justice.

In my final year, I was undecided whether to pursue a PhD in physics (and specifically radio astronomy – my main physics supervisor as an undergraduate had been Antony Hewish, who shortly after won a Nobel Prize for his work with radio telescopes) or whether to move towards the area I then knew under the rubric of ‘Science and Society’. I therefore lined up provisional places in both but deferred these for two years.

In the meantime, my wife and I (I’d met Valerie early on at Cambridge and we married immediately after graduating) went to serve with Voluntary Service Overseas as secondary school teachers in Nigeria from 1973 to 1975. We were located in a remote part of the country in a school that lacked both teachers and basic resources. During term time, we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into making the best possible job of teaching, including holding catch-up classes and organising extracurricular activities, while in the school holidays we travelled extensively on small motorbikes through Nigeria, Togo, Dahomey and Ghana, learning about the history and culture of West Africa.

A few years earlier Nigeria had gone through an extremely bitter civil war (the Biafran war) and faced immense problems. Val and I had to learn how best to operate in these difficult circumstances. We came to see how the world looks very different when viewed from a poor part of a developing country. We also came to appreciate what are the truly essential things in life – in particular, water – we were fortunate to have fairly (!) reliable water supply while we had virtually no electricity, but that mattered far less. During this time, I decided to make the break with physics and instead begin my journey towards ‘Science and Society’.

In 1975, I took up a place on the MSc course at Manchester University entitled ‘Liberal Studies in Science’. Amongst other things, it exposed science students like myself to a wide range of subjects including philosophy, history, economics, politics and sociology of science. We were fortunate to have some inspiring teachers including Mike Gibbons, Phil Gummett, Ron Johnston, Harry Rothman, Roger Williams and Richard Whitley. The latter supervised my MSc dissertation on ‘The Origins, Development and Capitulation of Steady-State Cosmology: A Sociological Study of Authority and Conflict in Science’. I managed to convert this into two papers, one of which was accepted by Sociological Review, my first academic publication. However, this brought me into conflict with David Edge and Mike Mulkay, although I subsequently became great friends with David. At this stage, I was very much part of the STS community and I continued to attend their large international conferences in the United States (the 4S conferences) and in Europe (EASST) for many years.

In 1976 I began work on a PhD on ‘British Astronomy 1945-75: A Study of the Role of Elites in Science Policy Making’ under the supervision of Whitley and Johnston. During this period, I also devoted considerable (perhaps too much!) time to rowing, stroking the Manchester University First VIII with some success in various competitions.

After 18 months of work on my PhD (and somewhat unexpectedly), I was offered a place as a Research Fellow at SPRU, the Science Policy Research Unit, which had been set up at Sussex University by Chris Freeman in 1966. I left Manchester in early 1978 intending to complete the PhD in evenings and weekends but instead these were quickly filled with SPRU work (and the continuous battle to bring in new projects in order to survive as a Fellow) so the thesis unfortunately never got completed. (Half a dozen draft chapters remain in a drawer.)

At SPRU, I had been hired to work on ‘the Big Science project’, where I was joined shortly after by John Irvine (a sociologist by training, from whom I was to learn a tremendous amount). Our task was to assess the performance of five ‘Big Science’ labs in the UK: what benefits – scientific, educational and technological – had the UK derived from its very sizeable investment in these labs? To assess the scientific achievements, we combined extensive peer review (interviewing several hundred scientists) with bibliometric indicators. These indicators had been originally developed by Eugene Garfield for library purposes, but had then been taken up by historians of science (most prominently Derek de Solla Price) and later by certain sociologists of science (some of the ‘Mertonians’ who had trained under Robert Merton). However, SPRU, along with Fran Narin at CHI Research in the US, were among the first to apply such indicators for explicit science policy purposes. The first major paper by John Irvine and myself was eventually published in Research Policy in 1983, having been delayed a year by the threat of libel action from the head of one of the British Big Science labs who was upset by our results. This article entitled ‘Assessing basic research: some partial indicators of scientific progress in radio astronomy’ set out the methodological framework of ‘converging partial indicators’. However, many leading scientists saw this as a threat to the way they ran science (through peer review and decisions made behind closed doors), and John and I were labelled as ‘the bad boys of British science’.

Our next project was for a Norwegian Royal Commission (the Thulin Commission) and involved an assessment of the mechanisms employed by NTNF (Norway’s applied research council) to support industrial research. This required extensive interviewing in four major laboratories and in over 80 firms in the mechanical engineering and electrical/electronic sectors. Inevitably, we ran out of time, writing the 25,000 word report in three days (and nights) before driving it to Heathrow one evening to fly out to Oslo next day. Fortunately, the Royal Commission were very happy with it, incorporating many of our conclusions and recommendations in their own report. This was then taken up in a Government White Paper, which in turn brought about several of the changes we had recommended.

This was followed by a major project to assess CERN and other leading high-energy physics laboratories. It differed from the first Big Science project in that it not only assessed past performance but also developed an approach for assessing the future prospects for CERN and its counterparts as they undertook the construction of major new facilities. Again, the results (published in a series of three RP articles) proved controversial among scientists, although it would seem that CERN got the message because they became far less conservative and risk-averse in their later strategy.

Subsequent work on research assessment included evaluations in ‘small science’ (e.g. ocean science, human genome research) and applied research (e.g. EU steel research, energy research, biomass), the potential use of academic research performance indicators (to supplement the peer review used in Research Assessment Exercises), and exploring the interface between corporate R&D and academic research, with my former PhD students and now colleagues, Diana Hicks and Sylvan Katz, featuring prominently in several studies.

From 1984 onwards, John Irvine, other SPRU colleagues and I also began to apply bibliometric approaches to compare the scientific performance of nations. In a series of articles in Nature and elsewhere, we produced evidence that Britain had been slipping in relative terms, something for which previously there had only been anecdotal evidence. This was about the time that leading British scientists began to drop their opposition to bibliometric approaches, realising these could help make the case for increased government funding.

This led John and me to undertake two large studies on international comparisons of government funding of academic and academically related research. The aim was to improve on the existing data on HERD (higher education R&D) compiled by OECD, which were beset with definitional and methodological problems. The outcome was the production of perhaps first truly comparable international statistics on government funding of such research. Besides two major reports, these were also published in a book. Again, the results were welcomed by British scientists, not least because (according to a Government Minister of the time) the SPRU study led to a significant increase in UK science funding. (Several years later, I served on the Royal Society Advisory Group on ‘The Fruits of Curiosity’, whose 2010 report, The Scientific Century: Securing Our Future Prosperity, is also credited with bringing about a substantial increase in UK government funding of science; this formed an ‘Impact Story’ in a subsequent REF (Research Excellence Framework) assessment of SPRU and Sussex University.) 

In 1983, SPRU was invited by the Advisory Council on Applied Research and Development to bid to carry out a study on how other countries set about the task of ‘how to identify exploitable areas of science’. Casting around for a suitable title for the proposal, John Irvine and I decided on ‘Project Foresight’. (This title was inspired by Project Hindsight, the US study in the 1960s which had the opposite task of identifying what scientific and technological advances had made possible certain innovations). After studying approaches adopted by governments and companies in France, Germany, the US and Japan, we submitted our report, recommending that the UK launch a small experimental Foresight project inspired in particular by Japan, then the world leaders in this area. However, our report and a subsequent book on Foresight in Science were completely ignored by the British Government. This was 1984 and the height of ‘Thatcherism’ with a Conservative Government striving to reduce the role of the state, so they were not inclined to take up this new proposed role for government. The task of identifying exploitable areas of science could, they claimed, be simply ‘left to the market’.

Between 1987 and 1989, John and I carried out a larger and much more ambitious project on Foresight for the Dutch Government. This produced in a second (and much more comprehensive) book on Foresight and resulted in not one but two Foresight programmes being set up in the Netherlands (by competing Ministries). In 1992, I was phoned by the UK Cabinet Office to ask if SPRU was willing to conduct a study on Foresight. My response was “Yes, but is the Government willing to listen to the answer this time?” I was reassured that, under a new Prime Minister (John Major), the Conservatives had a rather different ideology in which Government was seen as playing a more active role. Having learned from the previous failure, this time I prepared a report more attuned to the thinking of a right-of-centre government. I presented a two-page summary of this to the Minister (William Waldegrave), who immediately decided this was to be his ‘big new idea’ in the forthcoming White Paper. That White Paper (published in 1993) duly launched the UK Technology Foresight programme that was to continue in various guises for the next 20 years. I helped design and carry out the first UK Foresight programme, and spent much of the 1990s acting as an advocate for Foresight in numerous countries around the world.

Between 1990 and 1996, I spent significant time as part of an East-West collaboration on ‘The Restructuring of the Soviet (and later the Russian) Science, Technology and Innovation System’. (Keith Pavitt had volunteered my services on this, as he was his wont!) This was an exciting time as the Berlin Wall began to crumble and academics in the USSR emerged to voice some very forthright criticisms of the old Soviet system and began to look for a new model. During this time, besides working with eminent figures such as Dick Nelson and Rick Levin (who shortly after was appointed President of Yale), I became close friends with a number of Russians including Boris Saltykov, who went on to become a long-serving Minister for Science under Yeltsin in the new Russian Federation.

In 1992, my career took a different turn with a shift towards management as I became the SPRU Director of Graduate Studies. This was a time when SPRU had a cohort of some of its best PhD students. Prompted by them, one of my achievements was to set up the ‘SPRU DPhil Day’ (which quickly grew to become an international PhD conference) and another was to establish the annual Marie Jahoda Lecture series, the first being given by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Robert May.

Then in 1996, I was appointed Director of SPRU. I first spent a few months visiting equivalent organisations in Europe and North America to learn from them before taking up the post in January 1997. I served for nearly eight years until 2004. SPRU had a number of successes during this period (e.g. the second phase of the STEEP Centre and the new COPS centre) but also faced some difficulties (the near bankruptcy of the SPRU Energy Group, and the loss of David Gann’s group to Imperial College). 

However, the largest project involved obtaining funds for a new building, the Freeman Centre. This involved bringing together CENTRIM (from Brighton University) and SPRU to prepare a 250-page proposal (and finding £120,000 for detailed architectural plans). The bid was successful, winning £5 million from the Joint Infrastructure Fund, with Sussex University agreeing to provide the remaining £4.4 million. I was instructed by the Sussex Vice Chancellor to oversee the completion of the building for £9.4 million “and not a penny more”. During the two years of planning and construction, every time we met with the architects and builders, their proposed costs had increased and we had to sacrifice some aspect or other of the intended building. Eventually, however, we brought the project in about £20,000 under budget and more or less on time, quite an achievement for a major construction project.

I stepped down towards the end of 2004, feeling it was time for a new SPRU Director but also wanting to make a return to research. During 2005, I had a sabbatical, spending much time reading in the university library but also learning new digital approaches to research. During this time, I wrote on the history and evolution of universities, but also began to study the history and evolution of our own field, science policy and innovation studies. The latter work was further developed in 2007-08, during a stay in the Centre for Advanced Study on Innovation in Norway led by Jan Fagerberg, working with others such as David Mowery, Maryann Feldman and Bart Verspagen. The results were eventually published in 2012 in an RP article on ‘The evolution of science policy and innovation studies’.

After presenting a lecture on this around 2008, I was challenged by Frank Geels to speculate on the future of our field. Some first thoughts appeared in a 2009 RP article co-authored with Pierra Morlacchi on ‘Emerging challenges for science, technology and innovation policy research’. The retirement symposium for Bengt Åke Lundvall in 2012 provided a further opportunity to develop these ideas, which were eventually published in a 2016 article on ‘Twenty Challenges for Innovation Studies’. This, a shorter book chapter version and numerous lectures on the topic seem to have had some impact on researchers (particularly those at an early stage in their career) and their views on where new research is best focussed.

From 2002 to 2008, I played a role along with colleagues led by Philippe Laredo in the establishment and running of a major EU project known by the acronym PRIME – Policies for Research and Innovation in the Move towards the ERA. This involved a collaboration among more than 40 organisations and several hundred researchers – one of the first examples of ‘Big Social Science’. While this and other ‘Networks of Excellence’ were set up to minimise EU bureaucracy, it inevitably created its own mini-bureaucracy with numerous committees and meetings, and left me increasingly frustrated with EU funding. I was therefore honoured to serve as Deputy Chair of the European Commission High-Level Expert Group on the proposed European Research Council (ERC), which in its 2005 report, Frontier Research: The European Challenge, set out a framework for the ERC that would ensure it was free to pursue the very best ‘frontier research’ (a concept to which I contributed) unimpeded by political and bureaucratic restrictions. Indeed, I regard this as one of my more important international contributions.

Over the last 20 years, I have been involved in various collaborative projects, resulting in books with Sven Hemlin and colleagues on Creative Knowledge Environments and on Creativity and Leadership in Science, Technology and Innovation, and books with Jan Fagerberg and colleagues on Innovation Studies: Evolution and Future Challenges and on The Triple Challenge for Europe: Economic Development, Climate Change and Governance. There has also been an RP article with David Mowery and Dick Nelson on ‘Technology policy and global warming’, and two RP articles with Daniele Rotolo and colleagues on ‘What is an emerging technology?’ and ‘Why do firms publish?’ 

If I have a particular talent, I suspect it is for more conceptual pieces, setting out clear definitions and establishing a systematic conceptual framework for analysing important phenomena. The first half of 1983 paper on ‘Assessing basic research’ was conceptual – what do specific bibliometric indicators actually capture, and why are they only ‘partial’ indicators? The two books on Foresight and various journal articles set out how and why ‘foresight’ differs from conventional ‘forecasting’ (with the first book also helping to establish the concept of ‘strategic research’). The 1997 article with Sylvan Katz on ‘What is research collaboration’ offered a framework for defining, operationalising and understanding research collaboration that has since become widely accepted (and heavily cited). The 2001 article with Ammon Salter on ‘The economic benefits of publicly funded basic research’ built on an earlier influential SPRU report to the UK Treasury and developed a taxonomy of different types of benefits that has since been widely used and cited.

Other more whimsical or provocative publications include an article on ‘The Research Excellence Framework and the Impact Agenda: are we creating a Frankenstein monster?’, reflecting growing concerns about the increasingly pervasive (and sometimes pernicious) effects of successive UK Research Assessment Exercises. Another was on ‘What’s happening to our universities?’, which might have more accurately been entitled ‘What’s going wrong in our universities?’ This was borne out of frustration with a succession of bureaucratic idiocies besetting me and my colleagues.

Since 2004, my main role has been as Coordinating Editor for Research Policy. In that year, Martin Bell, Nick von Tunzelmann and I took over from Chris Freeman and Keith Pavitt (who had died a couple of years earlier). We saw it as our task to build on their legacy, and to develop and strengthen the position of the journal. Since then, the number of papers received each year has multiplied over five-fold (from 400 in 2004 to 2,240 in 2023). I have handled several thousand papers, which in turn has meant persuading thousands of individuals to act as referees for those papers. Feedback from authors and others indicates that RP is regarded as the leading journal in the field of innovation studies, a community now comprising perhaps 5000 or so researchers around the world, with a presence in most business schools as well as a number of dedicated research centres such as SPRU and our colleagues at Manchester. Events such as ‘Meet the Editors’ sessions at conferences provide an opportunity to provide advice to younger researchers as well as perhaps to ‘nudge’ the field in new directions.

One unanticipated consequence of becoming a journal editor, however, has been a growing involvement in issues relating to research integrity. As academic life has become ever more competitive and pressurised, so the temptation among a few researchers to ‘cut corners’ has unfortunately grown. Journal editors have by default been forced to become academic ‘police’ in determining when research misconduct has taken place, whether an author is ‘guilty’ and, if so, what penalty should be imposed. In 2007, an observant reader pointed out that a 1993 RP paper had extensively plagiarised a 1980 article in a marketing journal. (This had escaped the attention of three very eminent referees along with the editor and indeed RP readers for the next 14 years.) At first, we assumed this must have been a one-off ‘moment of madness’ by the author (who was quite eminent). However subsequent investigations revealed that Hans Werner Gottinger was actually a serial plagiarist, who had been caught on several previous occasions but nothing much had then happened so he continued on his merry way. Together with the journal Nature, we produced a detailed exposé of his long history of misconduct in an attempt to bring this to a halt. (Unfortunately, in this we failed.)

Our journal having been duped once, RP editors have adopted the stance that we must do all we can to ensure that issues of research integrity do not surface in any future article. We consequently have a reputation for taking research misconduct seriously, including pointing out to errant authors where and how they have gone wrong. It was this reputation that led to RP being approached to investigate publications produced by a very prolific author. Detailed investigations revealed that not only had this individual been ‘salami-slicing’ his two main projects into dozens of papers but each of these articles had failed to disclose that its particular contribution overlapped significantly with other parallel papers. There were also methodological problems in the form of omitted-variable bias (in this case, the omission being deliberate and premeditated) and even indications that some data appeared to have been falsified. We ended up retracting two RP articles by Ulrich Lichtenthaler and other journals then followed, with a total of 18 of his articles eventually being retracted, and he lost his tenured chair. RP editors have also taken a tough line with unscrupulous editors of other journals who have abused their position in an effort to artificially inflate their ‘Journal Impact Factor’. More recently, Jeremy Hall and I have developed a detailed taxonomy of research misconduct illustrated by examples from business school research, a study that was published in a 2019 RP article.

In looking back, academics generally tend to think first of their research contributions and their impact. However, during my career (and following the examples of such mentors as Chris Freeman, Marie Jahoda and Keith Pavitt), I always have tried to give due priority to teaching and in particularly to supervising PhD students (36 at the last count). Many of these have gone on to illustrious academic careers, including Andrew Barry, Diana Hicks, Benöit Godin, Sylvan Katz, Scott Cunningham, Tiago Santos Pereira, Jane Calvert, Alex Caldas, Michael Hopkins, Sandro Mendonca, Sangook Park (who in 2024 was appointed Presidential Science Adviser in South Korea), and Sungjoo Lee.

With these and others with whom I have collaborated, I have impressed the importance of clear, precise writing as well not hedging one’s view with too many caveats (“on the one hand, …; on the other hand, …”). This is essential if one is to succeed in getting messages across to policy makers, who generally have little time to wrestle with difficult prose and ambiguous standpoints, not to mention a limited ‘absorptive capacity’. 

This brings me finally to the importance of values. Here, I have been strongly influenced by the culture and values of SPRU, values reflecting the ethos of its founding figures – Chris Freeman, Geoff Oldham, Marie Jahoda, Keith Pavitt, Julian Perry Robinson, Roy Rothwell, John Surrey and others. They shaped the philosophy of SPRU – that science, technology and innovation are – potentially at least – a source of tremendous good for the world, although that depends on having well informed policies to ensure the benefits are maximised and the risks or possible adverse consequences are minimised. The starting point for SPRU research is ‘Problems first’ – not disciplines, or theory, or other academic aspirations. Since real-world problems rarely if ever come neatly wrapped and pigeon-holed within a single academic discipline, that means an interdisciplinary approach is essential, combining the perspectives and tools of different disciplines needed to collectively address that particular problem. That approach should be empirically based where possible but also critical (‘speaking truth unto power’). For policy researchers, one of the most powerful tools in their ‘toolbox’ is international comparisons; whatever problem we might have in the UK, other countries may have experienced similar or related problems, from which we can undoubtedly learn. This, in turn, points to the need to bring in expertise from abroad (SPRU has always been very international in composition as well as outlook) as well as engaging in international collaboration.

At a personal level, Chris and colleagues were always open and friendly, willing to help others even at the cost of the time left for their own work. They placed a premium on helping the young, whether graduate students, young fellows or visiting researchers. Before offering any criticism (e.g. of a draft paper or a seminar presentation), this was invariably prefaced by pointing to the strong points. Particularly striking was the spirit of intellectual generosity – not to claim every new idea as your own but to share it with others, preferably the most junior person in the room (for whom that credit would make far more difference to their career advancement prospects).

My favourite example of this relates to the notion of the ‘national system of innovation’, one of the most important concepts to come out of innovation studies in the last 40 years. This is generally credited to Freeman’s 1987 book on Japan. When asked where he got the idea from Chris would say “Bengt Åke Lundvall”. But when Lundvall was asked the same question, he would reply “Chris Freeman”. In an increasingly competitive academic environment, such an argument is not the one would witness, say in a North American business school where disputing rivals would instead each seek to claim “No, it was my idea.” 

The field of innovation studies is truly fortunate that its founders (individuals such as Dick Nelson and Nathan Rosenberg) shared similar values to Chris and SPRU’s early pioneers. In the absence of that, the culture and values in our field would, I fear, be very different (as it is for some of our ‘neighbours’) – more individualistic, more competitive (even hyper competitive), more antagonistic, more beset by petty rivalries and jealousies.

The culture and values that we enjoy and from which we all benefit don’t just happen and they may wither away in the light of our changing environment and the ever increasing competitive pressures on individuals, departments and universities unless we constantly reinforce them. In supervising graduate students, then as Director of SPRU, and more recently as Coordinating Editor of Research Policy, I have often taken the opportunity to stress the values that bind us together, that make our efforts greater than the sum of the parts, that make our work fun! They need to be nourished as well as cherished if they are to survive and if our field is to continue to thrive.

Sandro Miguel Ferreira Mendonça

Sandro Mendonça is Professor at the Department of Economics, ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute. He is also Invited Professor at ISEG - University of Lisbon and Visiting Professor at the Dept. of Economics of the University of Insubria, Italy.

He is a German Marshall Fund Fellow since 2012. He was a visiting scholar of King’s College, London, in the Fall of 2012. In 2015 he was nominated “European Young Leader” by the Friends of Europe Foundation. He is faculty of SPRU, the University of Sussex, since 2016. Since 2012 he teaches and supervises at the doctoral programs of the Southern Medical University (Guanghzou) and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (Chengdu). He served as Director of the Economics undergraduate programme at ISCTE Business School (AACSB acredited) during two terms.

He was Scientific Manager of “Science and Society” at CYTED (the Ibero-American program for science and technology, www.cyted.org) from 2014 to 2018, and remained an advisor to the Secretary General. He cooperated with CEN (European Committee for Standardization) and EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Rights Office). He was deputy member of the Management Committee of OceanGov (European Network on “Ocean Governance for Sustainability”, sponsored by the European Science Foundation). 

His research and consultancy work mostly focus on innovation and industrial policy. He is also active in the fields of strategic foresight and conflict research.

Diana Hicks

Diana Hicks is a Professor in the School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology specializing in metrics for science and technology policy. She was the first author on the Leiden Manifesto for research metrics published in Nature, which has been translated into 24 languages and won the 2016 Ziman award of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) for collaborative promotion of public interaction with science and technology. Her work has informed policymakers in the U.S., Europe and Japan. She has advised the OECD, Flanders, the Czech Republic, and Sweden on national research evaluation systems. She chaired the School of Public Policy for 10 years and currently co-chairs the international Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy and has been an editor of Research Evaluation. Prof. Hicks has also taught at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley; SPRU, University of Sussex, and worked at NISTEP in Tokyo. She earned her D.Phil and M.Sc. from SPRU, University of Sussex.  In 2018 she was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for “distinguished contributions to the evaluation of national and international research and development enterprises, and for outstanding leadership in science and technology policy education.”

Paul Nightingale

Paul Nightingale is Professor Of Strategy (SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit), Professor Of Strategy (Business and Management), Associate Dean of Research (University of Sussex Business School), Professor Of Strategy (University of Sussex Business School), University of Sussex Business School.

Paul was originally trained as a chemist and worked in industry as a chemist doing analytical environmental toxicology work, in the R&D labs of a major blue chip firm. His PhD was on the changing technology of technical change and looked at the use of computer simulations in the pharmaceutical, aerospace, chemical and chemical engineering industries. It also involved a pilot study of the LEP detector at CERN.

After PhD he worked for 10 years in the Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre, jointly run between SPRU and CENTRIM. While there he did a lot of work on bioinformatics systems and risk management technology in investment banks.  Paul has done a substantial amount of policy work on innovation policy in the UK and led NESTA's Innovation Gap research project, working closely with Virginia Acha, who was the brains behind the final report. The Innovation Gap report integrated a lot of the research findings from the CoPS innovation centre's work, as well as similar work that had been undertaken at partner innovation centre CRIC at the University of Manchester.  The main concern of the report was that many traditional indicators of innovation now fail to capture the complexity of technical change in the UK economy. As a result, public policy has become increasingly disconnected from practice. The report also highlighted the large amount of 'hidden innovation' ongoing in the economy, building on the original work on Hidden Innovation that had been undertaken by his PhD student at the time Michael Hopkins.

Jeremy Kent Hall

Jeremy Hall (D.Phil., University of Sussex, MBA and B.Sc., Dalhousie University) is the Director of SPRU and Professor of Innovation Studies.  He was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, a technology and innovation management journal from 2012-2022.  Prior to joining University of Sussex Business School, he was Chaired Professor of Social Innovation and Director of Centre for Social Innovation Management at Surrey Business School, and Director of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), University of Nottingham.  He also held a Professorship at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), an Associate Professorship at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary (Canada), and a Lectureship at SPRU, University of Sussex (UK).

Abiodun Egbetokun

Abiodun Egbetokun is a Senior Lecturer in Business Management at De Montfort University in Leicester, United Kingdom. He also maintains affiliation with Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa and the National Centre for Technology Management, Nigeria. Abiodun's rich multidisciplinary background includes degrees in Engineering, Technology Management, and Economics. He applies advanced microeconometric methods to data from developing countries, designing and implementing household and firm-level surveys, including Nigeria's official science, technology, and innovation (STI) surveys and the longest-standing data collection effort on undergraduate entrepreneurship in Nigeria. His expertise spans nearly two decades, during which he has advised governments and international development partners on issues related to innovation, entrepreneurship, employment, poverty reduction, private sector development, public policy, and sustainable development. His work has been sought after by several multilateral development organizations, including UNIDO, GIZ, and the African Union Commission. Notably, he served as President (2019-2021) of the Nigerian Young Academy and as a Science Advice Policy Fellow (2019) of the US National Science Foundation. As an AuthorAID and Development Studies Association (DSA) mentor, Abiodun actively supports early career researchers in developing countries.

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