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Wed, 22 Jun




The 'IN CONVERSATION' series portray prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. The 6th episode features BENGT AKE LUNDVALL in a deep conversation with JAN FAGERBERG on 22 June 2022

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Time & Location

22 Jun 2022, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm UTC



About the Event

About the Event 

The IN CONVERSATION series portrays prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews with other senior scholars.

In the SIXTH event BENGT AKE LUNDVALL will be interviewed by JAN FAGERBERG (on 22 JUNE, 2022) at 1 pm GMT | 2 pm - London

9 am - New York | 10 am – Brazil | 2 pm - London | 3 pm - Denmark, France, South Africa | 4 pm - EAT | 6.30 pm - India | 9 pm China & Malaysia | 10 pm - Tokyo

The event will be anchored by LILIAN LIHASI

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

Brief intro to the program and introducing Jan Fagerberg (by the anchor) 5 minutes

i. Introductory remarks by Fagerberg and Bengt Ake 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 Bengt Ake, 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 Bengt Ake 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?


v. Discussion (1 hour): For the 1 hour discussion a panel of scholars [Rasmus Lema, Anna Bergek and Maryann Feldman] will ask questions or make comments on Bengt Ake's work. After Bengt Ake's response to them the forum will be open for questions from the general audience.

Brief Biodata of the speakers

Bengt Ake Lundvall - An autobiographical note

Born 1941. Grew up in Karlsborg – move to Karlskrona around 1950 – and on to Halmstad 1960 – Student exam 1961 there.

My performance and grades were weak. I started to study law in Gothenburg 1962 and moved to Lund 1963. The lack of success resulted in attempt to change career – nonetheless I restarted studies in 1964 now in political science and later on in economics. From that point of my study efforts and grade got better in spite of being engaged in student movement – chairperson of SDS in Gothenburg in turbulent period around 1970.

I was always sceptical to the economic man construction – I had read Simon and March already in political science. Some of my first seminar papers were on the capital controversy which further undermined my respect for standard economics. I had das Capital by Marx as pensum and I was working on the falling rate of profit in an Ph.D. thesis that was never finished. 1969 I published an introduction to Marxian economics together with two colleagues Dencik and Herlitz.

1973 I was invited to move to Aalborg, Denmark and teach business school students both mainstream and radical economics. I got heavily involved in building the new university and in establishing an economics program. Key concepts were growth and structural change and critical perspective on what constitutes international competitiveness.   Leontiev, Kutznets, Thirlwall, Salter were important inspirations. But also inspiration from French scholars such as Palloix.

In 1977 we organized the Danish annual economists meeting in Aalborg. Here we went against the mainstream by showing that high wages and strong competitiveness went hand in hand (later known as Kaldor-paradox. To follow up we organized research to explain which factors lie behind a strong international competitiveness.  This research also took as starting point some of my earlier work on wage, productivity and inflation dynamics indicating that productivity is an endogenous variable. Increasingly we focused on innovation and new technology as a key factor. In the beginning of the 1980s I led a technology assessment project on the impact of microelectronics on the Danish economy (the MIKE-project). This gave inspiration to my ideas of product innovation as outcome of interactive learning between users and producers.

Around 1981 our group (the IKE-group) got in contact with Chris Freeman who came regularly to Aalborg university as guest professor. Very important inspiration. At the same time, I became Danish representative in OECD ad hoc group on Science Technology and Competitiveness.  In the first half of the 1980’s the concept national innovation system began to take form in discussions with Freeman. One motivation for the project was that it could substitute for simplistic ideas of competitiveness as based on low wages.

1984-85 I went first to Spru and later to Stanford for 2x1/2 year where I presented a draft paper on user-producer interaction and product innovation. I met many of the leading scholars in innovation and I got positive feed-back on my own work. 

In the period 1988-1991 I organized another major project aiming at explaining an extreme version of the productivity paradox characterizing the Danish economy – massive investment in ICT and falling aggregate productivity in manufacturing (the PIKE-project).  In this period, I also presented my own ideas on long waves in the economy – as reflecting the opening and closing of intra-industrial productivity differences. It was also in this period that I edited the book on national systems of innovation that came 1992.

I also worked with Björn Johnson to develop the concept ‘the learning economy’. In the summer of 1992, I was asked to apply for a post as deputy director at Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry after having worked with the directorate as consultant for a period. I stayed on for 3 years but I decided that the freedom of university work was to prefer so 1995 I returned to Aalborg university, where I initiated the DISKO-project studying different dimensions of the Danish innovation system. In this project we combined the innovation system and the learning economy perspective. At my return I also became coordinator of the Danish network DRUID until 2000.

In the late 1990s and in the beginning of the new millennium I was involved in European innovation research and in policy related work – such as the formation of the Lisbon strategy. I began to work closely with Edward Lorenz who had more expertise on work organization and organizational learning. Together we edited a volume on How Europe’s economies learn.

New contacts in the South and a certain frustration with the EU led me to consider building a global network of innovation scholars with focus on developing countries. From 2001 and onwards I tried to find some financial support for such a network. 2002 we held a first meeting in Aalborg and 2003 the first Globelics conference took place in Rio. I stayed on as either ‘secretary general’ or ‘president’ of Globelics until 2016. 

Around 2003 I was asked to join Tsinghua University as ‘special invited professor’ to teach their elite students on innovation and innovation systems – I spent 4x1/2 a year teaching in doing research in relation to China’s innovation system.

2007 I was invited to give similar courses to MPA-Students at Science Po in Paris and I did so for another 4x1/2 years.

In the context of Globelics I have worked on Latin American, Asian and African innovation systems in close collaboration by domestic scholars.

In more recent years I have worked with Jan Fagerberg how economic development is related to participation in global value chains. I have also worked with Cristina Chaminade, Shagufta Hanef on a book-let ‘Advanced introduction to national innovation systems’. Shagufta also helped med to bring together some of my articles (with me adding some new ones) in ‘The learning economy and the economics of hope’.

The last couple of years I have tried to understand the ongoing digital revolution and how it impacts on the world order in collaboration with Cecilia Ripak who originates from Argentina. It has resulted in a small book titled ‘The digital innovation race and the emerging new world order’ which came out end of 2021. This project has a stronger connection with the Marxian economics approach that I worked on the basis of around 1970 than most of my other publications – at the same time it is obvious that artificial intelligence and digitalization has major implications for the concept ‘the learning economy’. But I will leave it to the next generations to work those out!

Jan Fagerberg

Professor Jan Fagerberg studied history, political science and economics before he graduated from the University of Bergen in 1980 with a degree in economics. He also holds a D. Phil. from the University of Sussex (1989), where he was at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU). Fagerberg is affiliated with the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture

(TIK) at the University of Oslo. Previous affiliations include the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, the Norwegian Institute for Foreign Affairs (NUPI), the University of Lund and Aalborg University.

In his research Fagerberg has among other things focused on the relationship between technology (innovation and diffusion) on the one hand and competitiveness, economic growth and development on the other. He has also worked on innovation theory, innovation systems and innovation policy. Fagerberg has published extensively on these and other

topics in books and journals. His research is widely cited and disseminated. During the period 1996-1999 Fagerberg was one of the co-ordinators of a large European project "Technology, Economic Integration and Social Cohesion (TEIS)" funded by European Commission (in which more than 50 European researchers and 15 different institutions took part). This work resulted in 1999 in the publication of the book “The Economic Challenge for Europe: Adapting to Innovation Based Growth” (Edward Elgar) edited by Fagerberg, Paolo Guerrieri and Bart Verspagen. Another initiative of his was the TEARI project (2002-2004), supported by the European Commission, which aimed at producing an authoritative survey

of the role of innovation in modern societies. This led in 2004 to the publication of “The Oxford Handbook of Innovation” at Oxford University Press, edited by Fagerberg, David Mowery and Richard Nelson, which since has been reprinted several times and is also published in Italian and Chinese editions.

Between 2003 and 2008 Fagerberg led a large scale research effort funded by the Norwegian Research Council on the working of the Norwegian innovation system, one of the outcomes of which was the book “Innovation, Path Dependency and Policy: The Norwegian case”, edited by Fagerberg, David Mowery and Bart Verspagen, published by Oxford University Press in 2009. In addition, during 2007-8, he headed a cross-disciplinary research group focusing on innovation at the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS), Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. He has also participated in a number of EU Framework Program projects/networks.

Recently Fagerberg has been engaged in a number of activities intended to map our current knowledge about Innovation and stimulate discussions about the future research agenda in this area. One such initiative was the EXPLORE project, carried out between 2009 and 2011 with support from the DIME network of excellence (financed by the European Commission). Results from this project, which tried to map the knowledge base of not only innovationstudies but also entrepreneurship-studies and STS, appeared in a special issue of Research Policy in 2012. At Ålborg University he has, with the support of the Danish OBEL foundation, initiated a series of annual conferences about the future of innovation-studies, the first of which led to the publication of the book “Innovation Studies: Evolution and Future Challenges” edited by Fagerberg, Esben Sloth Andersen and Ben Martin (Oxford University Press 2013). His most recent book, entitled “The Triple Challenge for Europe: Economic Development, Climate Change and Governance”, edited by Fagerberg, Staffan Laestadius and Ben Martin, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2015.

Rasmus Lema

Rasmus Lema is Associate Professor at UNU-MERIT, United Nations University and Visiting Professor at the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg. He holds a DPhil from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, and conducts research in the intersection between innovation studies and development studies, with a particular emphasis on policies and practices for technological learning, innovation and competence building for sustainable industrialisation. He is co-editor in chief of Innovation and Development and vice-chairmen of the Globelics Scientific Board.

Anna Bergek 

Anna Bergek is Full Professor in Innovation Systems and Technology Policy since October 2016. She studies innovation in mature industries and innovation systems, with particular focus on the energy sector. The aim of the research is to understand under what conditions mature companies and industries can remain innovative, how new technology can enter and diffuse in sectors that are in need of a sustainability transition and how energy and technology policy instruments should be designed to facilitate innovation and transition. Since 1 March 2018, Anna is Deputy Head of Department and Vice Head of Department with focus on research. 

More about Anna Bergek

Maryann Feldman

Maryann P. Feldman is the Heninger Distinguished Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina, an Adjunct Professor of Finance at Kenan-Flagler Business School and a Research Director at UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.  Her research and teaching interests focus on the areas of innovation, the commercialization of academic research and the factors that promote technological change and economic growth. Dr. Feldman is an editor of the journal, Research Policy.

Dr. Feldman was the winner of the 2013 Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research for her contributions to the study of the geography of innovation and the role of entrepreneurial activity in the formation of regional industry clusters. Her dissertation, Geography of Innovation, examined the spatial distribution of industrial innovation and provided an empirical model of the factors and resources that affected the production of new product innovation. This publication is noted to be the first time that the term “geography” was used to describe spatial phenomenon and is now an accepted lexicon. Currently, the geography of innovation is a subject area under the strategy division of the Academy of Management.

From 2014-2017, Dr. Feldman held a joint appointment at the National Science Foundation as the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) Program Director and chaired an inter-agency working group on Science Policy.

Feldman’s early work revealed that universities were necessary, but not sufficient, for technology-based economic development. These findings launched a new area of investigation into university technology transfer.  She has written extensively on the process and mechanics of the commercialization of academic research. Feldman’s most recent work explores emerging industries, entrepreneurship and the process of regional transformation – topics covered in the edited book, Cluster Genesis: the origins of technology-based economic development.  She has written extensively on the early development and growth of biotechnology, as an example of a transformative technology.  In 2010, she completed a study of the industrial applications of optical science, which demonstrated typologies of places that were able to sustain industrial optics through a variety of economic development strategies.

Currently, Feldman is actively engaged in researching the industrial genesis of the Research Triangle region, in a joint project with Nichola Lowe.  The project follows the development of the regional economy over a 50 year time period using a unique database of 3200 entrepreneurial ventures and attempts to understand the institutional dynamics that created a vibrant regional economy. This research approach is being replicated in other entrepreneurially active regions including: Sophia Antipolis, France; Austin, TX; and Chatanooga, TN.

Feldman is a prolific writer whose work appears in numerous journals, including: Management Science, Organization Science, Research Policy, The Journal of Technology Transfer, American Economic Review, The Review of Economics and Statistics, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Economic Geography, and The Brookings Papers on Economic Policy.

More about Maryann Feldman

Lilian Lihasi (Anchor)

Lilian is an agribusiness and development practitioner, with a wide experience in capacity building and strengthening of partnerships to foster mutual learning and development of creative ideas. Lilian, a consultant at The Lead Consortium, has served for over 20 years. in various leadership capacities in research and regulatory institutions in Kenya. Driven by her passion to build change champions and transform livelihoods for sustainable food systems and organizational change; Lilian facilitates change processes while driving leaders to conceive and implement new experiences within their existing context. Lilian has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Agricultural and Rural Innovations and a Master of Science (MSc.) in Agricultural Extensionfrom Egerton University, Kenya. She is the Founder and Team Leader of the Vuyande International.

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