Creating knowledge to drive development and growth has remained the core that separates wealth and poverty. That knowledge can be indigenous or externally acquired but it must be structured upon pillars. An innovation system built through knowledge typically goes beyond attracting multinational companies, establishing silos of high-technology companies or entrepreneurial systems, to one that is relevant, by understanding and providing for the needs of the local market.
The Makers Movement with their innovators and artisans are going to be as important as the multinational companies provided enabling path exists for the makers to advance. This means that the source of new ideas cannot be from abroad alone. Rather, the continent must look inwards, while looking externally, and discover the acres of talents that just need help to blossom. We need an innovation economy, unbounded by geography.
An innovation economy is one that positions knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation process as integrated pillars, affected by policy, to enhance growth and development. It encapsulates an economic regime in which growth is dependent on the quantity, quality, and accessibility of the information available, rather than just on the means of production. It spurs higher productivity through higher value creation and not just through market price signals in using scarce resources.
It is an economy that relies more on knowledge and technology, over mere production factor accumulation in capital and labor. It is more collaborative and entwined efficiently, connecting firms, governments and societies. It produces economic growth and development – end-products from knowledge, policies supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, technological advancements between collaborative firms, and systems of innovation that create production-growth environments.
At the end, we will move from an inventive society to an innovative one.