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Wed, 21 Jun




The 'IN CONVERSATION' series portray prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. The 13th episode features FRANCISCO LOUÇÃ in a deep conversation with MARIA ENRICA VIRGILLITO on 21 JUNE 2023

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Time & Location

21 Jun, 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.



The event will be moderated by RAJESH. GK


On 21 JUNE, 2023 

At 1 PM GMT |2 PM UK | 1 PM UTC | 3 PM CET |4 PM EAT | 6.30 PM IST | 12 AM (22nd) AEDT

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

Brief intro to the program and introducing MARIA by RAJESH GK, Moderator 5 minutes

i. Introductory remarks by MARIA and FRANCISCO 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  FRANCISCO , 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  FRANCISCO  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 3 scholars (Valeria, Luigi and Mario) will ask questions and / or make comments on  FRANCISCO 's work. After  FRANCISCO 's response to them the forum will be open for questions from the audience.

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


Autobiographical note by FRANCISCO LOUÇÃ

Born 1956.

Grew up in Lisbon and, for a couple of years, in Mozambique (my father was an officer of the Navy, stationed there). I attended school in Lisbon and, as the opposition to the dictatorship and its colonial war (from 1961) expanded, I was part of a protest and jailed some weeks after completing 16. One of my fellow prisoners was the founder of modern economics in the country - he was then expelled from the university - and a future minister of the first democratic government, and a lifelong friend. Some months later, entering the faculty of economics in late 1973, no lectures were available since the university itself was closed by the government. And it remained closed until the April 1974 revolution, so I missed my first year. What happened next is well known history, as the popular movements and the creation of democracy rebuilt the country after the fall of the longest 20th century European dictatorship. I was busy in that for some years, and not at the faculty. Studying economics came after other priorities and I only completed my master's degree in 1992. It was my first contact with SPRU, as I visited Chris Freeman that winter in order to have his advice for the dissertation. It is not necessary to mention in detail how impressive it was: the warm welcome, the scientific environment, the lively discussions, the researchers and PhD candidates from all over the world, and Chris.

So, I asked him to be the adviser of my PhD thesis. By November 1993 I moved to Lewes, next to Falmer and SPRU, and by the way near to Chris's house, and lived there until the spring of 1995, completing my dissertation. It was published as “Turbulence in Economics”, 1997, by Edward Elgar. During that period, I travelled to Oslo and to Rotterdam, to study the archives of Ragnar Frisch and Jan Tinbergen (igniting an interest on the history of econometrics that would lead to “The Years of High Econometrics”, published 2007 by Routledge), as well as to Harvard, the Schumpeter Archive, and to the Santa Fe Institute. By that time, my evolutionary thought was, in the Freeman mould, concentrated on macroeconomic dynamics of change, adaptation and coordination. I was less interested on the firm and sectoral levels, although acknowledging that innovation studies feed and interconnect both families of topics – a strength of evolutionary economics as compared to other views or schools. In 1999, with Jan Reijnders (University of Amsterdam), we published a two volume selection of readings on long waves with Elgar.

By that year, I was already engaged with Chris, and for some time also with Carlota, in the preparation of what would become “As Time Goes By”, published in 2001 by Oxford. That book is a recollection of deeply rewritten pieces of research by Chris on the successive industrial revolutions, a first part on the evolution of evolutionary thought that I prepared, and a lot of effort to change and complete each other's contributions, certainly to my benefit. It was the last of Chris's books, and I believe he enjoyed the final product, which was soon translated into Portuguese, Chinese, Turkish and Ukranian. I pursued this research in several recent contributions, such as a long SPRU Working Paper and a paper for the Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

By the way, this book provoked an incident: as Chris was retired and not willing to do long travel, I was invited by the World Bank in 2005, together with Paul David, Manuel Castells and the Nobel Prize Michael Spence to be one of the keynote speakers at a “Conference on Informatization Strategy and Economic Transformation: Trends, Experiences and Outlooks”, to be held May 18-19 at Su-zhou, China, co-organized by the State Council Informatization Office and the Advisory Committee for State Informatization of China. The then Chinese Minister of Industry and Information, Wang Zudong, and two vice-ministers would be present. Nevertheless, the Chinese authorities, after a careful reconsideration, decided to ask the World Bank to restrict the list of speakers and to drop my invitation. It complied, with a letter of excuse. Yet, the book had been published by Peking University Press, with great success; its ideas could be read but not heard.

At that time, I was a member of the Portuguese parliament (elected in 1999 and successively reelected until I decided to end that responsibility in 2012). Still, I was later appointed by the parliament to the State Council (2015-2021) and, for a shorter period, also to the Consultative Board of the Bank of Portugal (2017-2020). Although that consumed some time, my main concern has been economic teaching and research (published a handbook on macro in 2011 and a transformed version in 2021), and as time went by, also other related topics of social sciences: with some colleagues, we produced a book on the history of the national capital formation and power in 2010, a trilogy on social classes, popular (2014), bourgeoisie (2017) and “medium” classes (2019), a book on the history of the country in the 20th century and other essays on different topics. Another recent contribution on finance was “Shadow Networks”, in 2018, written with Michael Ash (Amherst University) and again published by OUP, also translated into several languages.

Looking backwards, all this was influenced by two stokes of luck. One of the study of the classicals and the contact with such masters as Chris Freeman and, not in any order, Ken Arrow, Alan Kirman, Luc Soete, Paul David, Stan Metcalfe, Nick von Tunzelman, Richard Nelson, Sid Winter, Carlota Perez. The second was to follow closely the work on evolutionary economists who kept reinventing their fields of expertise, among many others Bengt-Ake Lunvall, Giovanni Dosi, Mario Cimoli, Jan Fagerberg, Franco Malerba, Luigi Marengo, the late Luigi Orsenigo, Andrea Roventini, and younger students who pursue new lines of research. In all that I created, right or wrong, some strong beliefs on the future of evolutionary economics: 1. that it must intensely interconnect with other social sciences, geography, history, sociology, philosophy, you name it, paying the price of not being considered by our orthodox colleagues as a respectable wizardry, 2. that it needs to learn new methods and be attentive to their development, a ABM, topological approaches and other tools combine with standard formal and narrative analyses of nature, 3. that it must fight for teaching, namely that a priority task is to produce handbooks and to dispute the space of learning, 4. that a macro reconstruction of microeconomics is the only way forward for innovation studies, 5. that the analytical tools are answers and not constraints on the questions. It is not much, but perhaps it is sufficient to believe that our science is necessary.


Maria Enrica Virgillito is Associate Professor in Economics, Institute of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy. After obtaining a PhD in Economics at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in 2016 with a dissertation titled "Essays on economic coordination and changes: From industry and labour markets to macroeconomic regimes of growth", she obtained in 2017 a position as Assistant Professor in Economic Policy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Department of Economic Policy, where she is still research fellow. Since 2022 she is Associate Professor in Economics at the Institute of Economics, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies where she teaches advanced courses on Classical Development; Risks in Economics; Technical change, Income distribution and Macroeconomic Dynamics. Since 2022 she coordinates the Seasonal School on "Agent-based models in Economics: theory, toolkit and policy laboratories' '. She is Global Labour Organization Fellow, serves as Editor for the Macro and Development yearly issue of Industrial and Corporate Change, as Associate Editor for Structural Change and Economic Dynamics and for Review of Evolutionary Political Economy. She is also a member of the Editorial Board of SINAPPSI. She has been part of several H2020 projects and currently unit coordinator of a PRIN project. She has consultancy experience for major worldwide and European economic research centers such as the World Bank, JRC, EU-OSHA. Her publications have been hosted in a number of international scientific peer-reviewed journals in the realms of complexity economics, institutional labour economics, evolutionary economics. Actively engaged in media and social dissemination activities and action research.


Mario Cimoli is the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). He was appointed in that position on August 1st, 2018. He is also Chief of the Division of Production, Productivity and Management and Officer-in-Charge of the Division of International Trade and Integration.

He is the co-chair (along with Giovanni Dosi and Joseph Stiglitz) of two of the task forces (industrial policy and intellectual property right regimes for development) of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University (New York).

A PhD in economics from the University of Sussex, his research deals with development paths, economic growth and its relationship with the productive structure, and international trade. His work examines the interconnections between industrial policy, technological development and innovation.

His most important publications include Learning, Technological Capabilities and Structural Dynamics (2011); Innovation and Economic Development: the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Latin America (2010); Industrial Policy and Development, The Political Economy of Capabilities Accumulation (with Dosi, G. and J. E. Stiglitz, 2009); and Institutions and policies in developing economies (with Dosi, G., R. R. Nelson, and J. E. Stiglitz, 2009).


Luigi Marengo is professor of Economics in the Department of Business and Management of LUISS University in Rome. Before joining LUISS he was professor and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa. His main research interests are evolutionary economics, organization theory, complexity, and technological change.


Valeria Cirillo is Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Bari Aldo Moro (Department of Political Sciences), external affiliate of the Institute of Economics, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, and member of MinervaLab – Laboratory on Diversity and Gender Inequality – based at Sapienza University of Rome. She is also a member of the board of the PhD School in Economics at Sapienza University of Rome.

 She was previously a researcher in applied economics at the National Institute for the Analysis of Public Policies in Rome. Previously, she was Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and at the Department of Statistical Sciences of Sapienza University of Rome. She works on labour market dynamics, technologies, occupations, inequalities. She defended her PhD thesis in Economics at the Department of Social and Economic Analysis at Sapienza University of Rome and received her master’s degree in Development Economics from Sussex University (UK). In 2020 she led the research project “Case studies of Automation in services” for the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and she is currently leading the UNIBA team for the Horizon 2021 project BRIDGES5.0 - Bridging Risks to an Inclusive Digital and Green future by Enhancing workforce Skills for industry 5.0.

 She published more than 40 research outputs, of which several in top-ranked international peer-reviewed journals. Journals of publication include: Research Policy, Industrial and Corporate Change, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Papers in Regional Science, Studies in Higher Education, Industry and Innovation, Sustainability, Applied Economics, International Labour Review, Economia Politica, Intereconomics, Investigación Economica, Eurasian Business Review, Journal of Industrial and Business Economics. She has also contributed to books edited by Springer Nature (Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics) and Routledge advances in heterodox economics (Varieties of Income Inequalities).

In 2019, she was Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue "Digitalizing industry? Labor, Technology and Work organisation" for the Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, edited by Springer.

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