Emerging Trends | SMEs/Entrepreneurship
December 21, 2018

8 recommendations to spur innovations, ICT-centric economic growth and job creation

By Emanuele Giovannetti, Professor of Economics at Anglia Ruskin University, an ITU Academic Member

Innovations are the engine of competition and lie at the heart of industry growth and transformation.

However, modeling and understanding how technical innovations emerge and succeed has been challenging, given the many actors, phases and activities that underlie successful innovations.

To support innovations, governments and businesses looking to bolster sustainable and diffused economic growth and productivity need to focus on the whole ecosystem and the specific features of these ecosystems.

This should be done, first, by identifying the many different actors, including: entrepreneurs, public sector, private sector, local communities, financial backers, platform operators and academia. Then, by focusing on these players’ interrelated activities, actions and policies can be identified that may best support the entire innovation ecosystem.

In the ITU publication, ICT-centric economic growth, innovation and job creation, I discuss some of the key elements that facilitate the creation of an environment in which innovations are more likely to succeed. I also highlight the policies that need to be set and implemented so that ICTs may become vital enablers in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The following eight key recommendations emerged, to support successful Innovation Ecosystems:

Recommendation 1: Facilitate cooperation in innovative activities among different stakeholders by providing face-to-face and virtual meetings, and trust-enforcing mechanisms to increase the chances of success.

Recommendation 2: Monitor cooperation between stakeholders that are also product competitors as this may reduce rivalry and reduce innovation.

Recommendation 3: As the innovation ecosystem benefits also from unintentional collaboration, arising from spillovers in intangible innovative activities, innovation policy should encourage the use and diffusion of all platforms that facilitate the process of knowledge absorption for the formation of human capital and ICT access infrastructure required by these platforms.

Recommendation 4: As an ICT-centric innovation ecosystem is formed by developing and utilizing multiple ICT-enabled platforms by different stakeholders, there is a need for holistic and gender-aware policies to ensure that such platforms are developed and used for attaining a vibrant and successful innovation ecosystem.

Recommendation 5: Governments should protect smaller firms by discouraging larger companies from hiring talents of smaller firms.

Recommendation 6: ICT-centric innovation ecosystems in the gig economy present unmatched job opportunities, but may disregard employees’ rights. Hence, while labour policies and laws should support innovations, they should also protect such rights.

Recommendation 7: ICT-centric innovation ecosystems thrive through reciprocity. Innovation policy should support the formation of social capital by facilitating meeting and interaction and enforcing rights and guarantees. These are key elements in the ecosystems’ finances comprising its crowd-funders and stakeholders.

Recommendation 8: The initial phase is very important in an innovative activity, and providing early financial support is critical to surviving the Valley of Death. Early access to finance can be achieved by disseminating information, creating accountability, and increasing trust in ICT- enabled crowdfunding platforms.

These eight recommendations jointly aim to contribute to the formulation of policies, norms and behaviours that form an enabling environment where ICT-centric platforms may form successful innovation ecosystems. Taken as a whole, they can act as digital multipliers, providing digital dividends for the billions of disconnected or poorly connected people in many regions of the world.

As the report shows, innovations are more likely to succeed when locally and culturally embedded ICT-centric innovation ecosystems are given the space to emerge and survive, in a competitive landscape where entry is difficult and network effects can easily lead to monopolization. By facilitating such localized ICT-centric innovations ecosystems, the digital revolution will have much better chances to play a key and positive role in reaching many of the SDGs.

Note from ITU: Anglia Ruskin University is an ITU Academic Member. For more information to join ITU visit the website:

Emanuele Giovannetti (PhD, MPhil Cantab, Trinity College) is Senior Fellow at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge and Professor of Economics at Anglia Ruskin University. Emanuele is currently Vice-Rapporteur for the Study Group 1 of the ITU Development Bureau.
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8 recommendations to spur innovations, ICT-centric economic growth and job creation

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