The popularity of the term “innovation policy” is as the Figure shows of relatively recent origin. Nevertheless , by now we have several decades of experience with dedicated innovation policies, and it may be time to take stock of what has been learnt and consider what the challenges for the theory and practice may be. This is what the paper “Rationales, Lessons and Challenges, published in Journal of Economic Surveys in 2016” attempts to do. The paper outlines the development of theoretical frameworks of innovation policies and considers the relationship between the assumptions underlying these frameworks and empirical evidence on innovation. Based on recent advances in innovation-systems theory, a synthetic framework for analyzing innovation policy (and its effects) is presented followed by a discussion of so- called “mission-oriented” innovation policies, i.e., policies aimed at solving particular social challenges. Finally, the lessons and challenges for future work in this area are considered. Download the paper or the Power Point presentation. 

Graph innovation policy
The popularity of the term “innovation policy” (according to google).

The fact that the innovation policy term itself is quite recent does not imply that policies affecting innovation did not exist before. For example, as the paper “Innovation Systems and Policy: A Tale of Three Countries, published in Stato e mercato in 2016” shows, a lot of what was attempted in Sweden, Norway and Finland during the post-war period under labels such as “science policy”, “technology policy” and “industrial policy” might just as well have been labeled “innovation policy” (and probably would have got that label today).It may be a lot to gain from applying a broader and more historically oriented perspective, which is what the paper attempts to do. Download the published paper or a working-paper edition.