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How to measure innovation in the 21st century?

Over at the USACM Technology Policy Weblog, there’s a comprehensive summary of the first-ever public meeting of the Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy advisory committee. This committee, which includes a mix of CEOs and academics, was formed in December by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez as a way of understanding better the impact of innovation on the U.S. economy. Anyway, the advisory committee has put together a public website called Innovation Metrics, enabling a fascinating peek into the workings of the group. (There’s even a downloadable PDF of the seating chart of the meeting – for those of you keeping track, the CEO of IBM sat next to the vice-chairman of Wal-Mart.)

After discussion about the different kinds of innovation, as

well as the different ways companies measure that innovation, the group

came to a few preliminary points of consensus:

  • Since only simple tasks can be effectively captured with a single metric, the committee will develop a group of metrics;
  • A
  • core part of these metrics will be productivity. This would not be the

    output per hour measurement more commonly publicized, but total factor

    productivity measurement – total output per unit of total input;

  • The
  • best measures will do more than simply observe economic activity, they

    will be able to spot emerging trends, firms and industries;

  • To
  • avoid creating a whole system from scratch, the committee will examine

    changes to the system of national accounts – the series of economic

    statistics gathered by several different agencies;

  • Measures will cover the different kinds of innovation: user centered, firm focused, incremental, radical, process, product, etc.
  • [image: Carlos Gutierrez in action]


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