The unsung heroes behind some of the world’s greatest tech

We’ve got Steve Jobs to thank for the iPhones in our pocket and Elon Musk for the battery technology that can power a new generation of vehicles, right? These and other pioneering entrepreneurs are the champions of innovation.

Not quite, argues Mariana Mazzucato.

The author and academic – currently director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL – is on a mission to point out that much of the technology underpinning revolutionary products is very often, at least in part, funded by governments.

Touch-screen technology and facial recognition, and indeed the internet itself, are examples she quickly cites. Government money – through expenditure on defence, space exploration, healthcare or energy initiatives – have resulted in many unacknowledged break-throughs. The problem is that governments (such as Obama’s regime in the case of Tesla) are poor at negotiating good deals on behalf of taxpayers.

In this video interview Prof Mazzucato argues how carefully structured government backing can support enterprise in a way that traditional private sector finance – from banks and private equity, for example – is failing to do. 

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