March 8, 2012 - 12:00 am
Innovation in the global knowledge economy is an inherently uncertain enterprise. The pay-offs – economically and socially – are potentially huge. But with any high-risk, high-reward proposition, betting on cutting-edge innovation is also very, very costly: billions of public dollars for university research, much of which languishes in the lab or the pages of esoteric journals; hundreds of millions of dollars spent on breakthrough drugs that benefit a privileged few; institutional re-structuring as a matter of public policy for long-term innovation. How do societies rationalize such expensive bets? Are they worth it? Joseph Wong discusses these critical questions by examining the emergence of high-tech sectors in Asia. The story he tells, however, is one which resonates globally, especially here in Canada.