By setting missions that require different sectors to work together — it is possible to create instruments that reward those businesses willing and able to co-invest alongside investments by the European Commission and member states.
It is not about subsidies, but about co-investments along the entire innovation chain.
They also require more civic engagement, as it has become increasingly clear that European tax must be used to work on problems that matter to European society.
This is not about a box ticking exercise to solve one problem after another.
This is at the heart of what Dick Nelson meant in his excellent work on ‘The Moon and the Ghetto’, where he asked how it could be that we got a man to the moon and back, and have not been able to solve key issues around inequality, such as the emergence of ghettos.
Wicked problems require more attention to ways in which social issues interact with political and technological issues, the need for smart regulation, and the critical feedback processes across the entire innovation chain.
They can create more ‘additionality’ — making investments happen that would not have otherwise.
It can also become an opportunity to better link industrial strategy to innovation policy.
Similarly, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was not discovered so that we can use Google maps on our i Phones, but rather for military and intelligence uses to solve specific problems when the US was at the height of the Cold War competing with the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik in 1957.
In other words, both the internet and GPS were spillovers from missions.