What is the smart economy?

Having looked at Mary Cloake’s presentation, I didn’t report it correctly. The three points are in fact
*Jobs Jobs Jobs
*National Pride/ International Reputation
*Smart Economy

There is a problem in that nobody really knows what the smart economy is. Come on, admit it. Rather than ditching that point maybe now is the time to do a bit of research to find the substance behind the buzz words. I think that the European study linked to on this page has some interesting material in it. Feel free to post any other sources in the comments below.


3 responses to “What is the smart economy?

  1. Support all of the above – define ‘smart economy’ what exactly does that mean, to whom and why?
    On a practical note, here’s a possible idea from US artists seeking support for the arts, given the time frame and the urgency – something along the lines of the Arts Action Center – email your political representative on-line part could be very effective and save time. The wordpress blog could support a template like this:

  2. Duncan Keegan

    Actually, ‘Building Ireland’s Smart Economy: 2009-2014’, (available to download here: http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/Publications_2008/Building_Ireland%E2%80%99s_Smart_Economy.html) pretty clearly enunciates the state’s vision of what it believes constitutes a ‘smart economy’.

    A definition can be found on p.31: ‘A Smart Economy combines the successful elements of the enterprise economy and the innovation or ‘ideas’ economy while promoting a high-quality environment, improving energy security and promoting social cohesion. The most successful economies of the future will be those that can achieve this combination of attributes.’

    ‘Smart economic growth’ recognises ‘four forms of capital accumulation that drive the economic and social progress of the nation’ – human or knowledge capital; physical capital; natural or environmental capital; social capital.

    A little further on, it’s stated that ‘it has the objective of harnessing the ingenuity and creativity of people to drive research, innovation and commercialisation. It has, at its core, the creation of an exemplary research, innovation and commercialisation ecosystem so as to create ‘The Innovation Island’. The Smart Economy plan also endeavours to make Ireland a global hub for knowledge, innovation and know-how….’

    This document got me thinking of an article I read in the Atlantic a few months ago (you can read it in full here: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200903/meltdown-geography)

    Two key quotes that relate to the state’s vision of a smart economy:

    (1) ‘The University of Chicago economist and Nobel laureate Robert Lucas declared that the spillovers in knowledge that result from talent-clustering are the main cause of economic growth. Well-educated professionals and creative workers who live together in dense ecosystems, interacting directly, generate ideas and turn them into products and services faster than talented people in other places can. There is no evidence that globalization or the Internet has changed that. Indeed, as globalization has increased the financial return on innovation by widening the consumer market, the pull of innovative places, already dense with highly talented workers, has only grown stronger, creating a snowball effect.’

    (2) ‘But that was then; the economy is different now. It no longer revolves around simply making and moving things. Instead, it depends on generating and transporting ideas. The places that thrive today are those with the highest velocity of ideas, the highest density of talented and creative people, the highest rate of metabolism. Velocity and density are not words that many people use when describing the suburbs. The economy is driven by key urban areas; a different geography is required.’

    You can argue over whether any of this is valid or true. But given that the Irish government seems to have accepted the concept of a smart economy, the question for the arts sector now is how we use that to persuade the political class that we are indispensable to realising the smart economy vision?

    The idea of contacting public representatives on an individual basis has some merit, but I don’t believe it’s enough. We need a serious arts lobby, one capable of forcing politicians in power to deliver additional funding to the arts.

    How do we do that? No idea…but maybe this’ll help get us started (if a little shambolically…) http://www.mulley.net/2007/06/19/secrets-of-running-a-lobby-group-in-ireland/

    P.S. sorry about the length of the post…

  3. dublincentralarts

    Thanks Duncan, no problem with a long post if it’s good stuff. This group hopes to be an arts lobby of the kind you talk about. There were excellent presentations at the Theatre Forum Conference on how to lobby but I’m sure Damien will have something valuable on the subject too.

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