Endorsements from well-wishers
More than 20 years ago, I gave a small envelope to Christopher Freeman on his 80th anniversary in Lewes as a birthday gift. Inside, it said, ‘I'm working hard together with colleagues from all parts of the world to establish a global network, which will be called Globelics and we do that in your honour’. At that time, my hope was that this network would mobilize young people from all parts of the world, and, especially, in the developing world in doing research on Innovation, in the spirit of Freeman and with the ultimate aim to create a somewhat better world. That was what Chris was working for all his life. I see the current activities of Globelics and specifically the kind of activity that the Cris-network has organized over the last year as a materialisation of this hope.
The so-called CRIS-IS.ORG group is not a ‘Chris Freeman group’ but it got a double meaning as it initiated the series of Freeman anniversary related activities (I think originally it was an acronym for Centre for Research on Innovation System). This group includes about 30 young innovation scholars, most of them Globelics Academy alumni coming from the developing world with affiliations either in Latin America, Africa or Asia. What you are doing has been extremely important when Covid closed down a lot of activities with the shutdown of universities and great barriers for travel. This series of seminars, where you have mobilized more than one thousand innovation scholars around the world, especially young people, has helped to keep the Globelics network alive and to keep debates open for young and senior scholars. That is very important in itself but I would say it has a special significance in the current era of global challenges and global disorder.
The Covid crisis has demonstrated that it is necessary to move towards a different world order where we share knowledge, where individuals and organizations from all parts of the world innovate together and use knowledge to counter global challenges. At the same time, we have seen movements in the opposite direction - more nationalism and more intense international conflicts. In this situation, one of the great hopes that I have and I am sure Chris Freeman also had is that the younger generation from all parts of the world will join forces to work for a more sustainable world.
What you have been doing together in the Core Committee of CRIS-IS.ORG over the last year is an important contribution to what I regard as a necessary ‘globalization from below’ - not from above, by intellectual monopolies and big states - but by young people from different continents working together and learning from each other in spite of cultural barriers. Therefore, I would like to congratulate the whole Core Committee for the work you have done and I wish you all great success also for the future.
[Opening speech by Bengt Ake Lundvall on 07.01.2022 on the first anniversary of CRIS-IS.ORG]
Richard R. Nelson
I would like to thank the group of young scholars who have joined forces and organized and structured under CRIS-IS-ORG a terrific series of talks, seminars, and conversations oriented towards improving our understanding of innovation, and the economic progress that innovation drives. Their efforts have enabled a significant portion of the international and interdisciplinary community of scholars working on those topics to interact with each other during the years when Covid has made coming together very difficult. I encourage and expect this evolving group to continue play this constructive role, hopefully in a context where meeting in person again becomes a regular mode of interaction.
Virtually all of us in this community have been strongly influenced, directly or indirectly, by Christopher Freeman and the scholarship at SPRU during the many years when he was SPRU’s intellectual leader. There are several features of this orientation, all prominent in the gatherings we have had, that I would like to highlight.
First, research and analysis is strongly empirically oriented, with theorizing being concerned with understanding the empirical reality revealed by relatively open minded observation, rather than having theory coming first and empirical work oriented to calibrating or testing theory. Second, while often oriented by the kinds of questions Economics (as a field of study) is concerned with, research generally was not constrained by disciplinary boundaries, but rather aimed to explore and illuminate all aspects that empirical inquiry indicated were of importance. Third, the work was largely motivated by the objective of enhancing understanding that would enable better policies, at the same time research done under this orientation has enriched greatly our basic understanding of how technological advance occurs and its effects on the economic/social/political systems we have.
The group of young scholars working through CRIS-IS-ORG have played a major role in keeping this kind of scholarship alive. And I am sure they will continue to do so in the coming years.
I congratulate CRIS-IS.ORG for the launch and the organization of an impressive activity of seminars, lectures and conversations during the last year. The number of meetings has been striking, the range of topics and issues presented and discussed remarkable and the mobilization of researchers, scholars and policy makers extraordinary.
These topics indeed represent the core of the intellectual and research interests of the Globelics community. It is also very evident how much CRIS-IS.ORG has been inspired by the work of Christopher Freeman, which continue to represent a great stimulus and a deep motivation for the new generations of scholars interested in innovation, economic development, sustainable transformation and public policy.
What is impressive of the many young scholars that constitute CRIS-IS.ORG is their enthusiasm for what they do, their competence and skills with which they carry on their work and the openness that permeates all their activities. Their various initiatives have not been of a top-down nature. Rather they have been bottom-up, mobilizing a wide range of young and senior scholars disseminated around the world.
These initiatives have stimulated a vibrant participation from the broad Globelics community. But they have also extended their reach to other researchers in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Indeed the knowledge that has been generated, shared and diffused in these events has been impressive and the interaction has been remarkable, with open and broad discussions and with many ideas circulating among all the participants.
I look forward to the continuation of this splendid initiative.
We owe a great debt to the CRIS-IS.org programme, particularly from the perspectives of the developing world and the promotion of more inclusive trajectories of innovation. The development of Innovation Studies as a special area of research and policy interest owes a great deal to the pioneering roles played by Chris Freeman and colleagues at the Science Policy research Unit and the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, to Dick Nelson, and to Bengt-Ake Lundvall. At the time of their pioneering studies during the last quarter of the twentieth century, the developing world was a recipient of technologies originating in the capital-abundant, labour-scarce and infrastructure-rich high income countries. It was not surprising therefore that the trajectory of global innovation was inappropriate for the needs of low income countries and that the costs of technology transfer were extremely high.
However since the Sussex Manifesto was published in 1970, technological capabilities have grown significantly in low income countries and in many cases developing economies are pioneering the development and diffusion of efficient, appropriate and more inclusive technologies. Until recently, this historically-important transition has largely been neglected . However, the GLOBELICS programme and the invaluable CRIS-IS initiative have not only brought these developments into sharp focus but has also spurred a connected and globally participative set of discussions amongst researchers. They have also played a valuable role in the training of a new cadre of young researchers, particularly in the developing world.
I believe that the future direction of Innovation Studies lies in the sustained development of inter-disciplinary enquiry. It is vitally important that Innovation Studies is not confined to the economics of innovation and to micro-level studies. The CRIS-IS programme recognises and promotes this and will no doubt play a primary role in sustaining an holistic agenda in the promotion of more inclusive development. Sustainable Development must be the goal, and inclusive innovation has a major role to play in achieving this objective.
Given the average age of the presenters of the ‘In Conversation’ series as part of the cris-is.org's Freeman Innovation studies programme, it might seem something of an oxymoron to describe the episodes as “a breath of fresh air”. Nevertheless, these in-depth discussions explore fascinating journeys taken by leading lights in the field. The episodes show just how far the field has come over the last fifty years and how a lasting community of practice has developed and is now shared globally with wide wide ranging participation with committed scholars and partitioners. I am sure that Chris Freeman would have been proud to know how far we have all come.