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In this focus

What's both radical and incremental? Aimless and goal-oriented? Process and product? Innovation — now the subject of a monthly series of Nature Commentaries. Expert authors from business, economics, law, policy and research look to define innovation and explore how it arises and how it can be managed, encouraged and facilitated. The commentaries reveal that the idea of a single innovator or inventor is fading, and probe how innovation is increasingly the product of an entire ecology which includes both basic and applied research but also the venture capital system and external motivating forces coming together in the right mix.

Discuss these Commentaries at Nature Network




A case for nurture

Innovation is a complex ecosystem that requires careful cultivation.

Nature 454, 918 (21 August 2008) doi:10.1038/454918a


Three rules for technological fixes

Not all problems will yield to technology. Deciding which will and which won't should be central to setting innovation policy, say Daniel Sarewitz and Richard Nelson.

Nature 456, 871-872 (18/25 December 2008) doi:10.1038/456871a


The innovative brain

'Hot' decision-making, involving the evaluation of reward and punishment, is essential to the entrepreneurial process and may be possible to teach, argue Barbara Sahakian and her coauthors.

Nature 456, 168 (13 November 2008) doi:10.1038/456168a


The charge of technology

Science policies based on techno-nationalist thinking and fantasies about the past technological revolutions will get us nowhere fast, says David Edgerton.

Nature 455, 1030 (23 October 2008) doi:10.1038/4551030a


A cat's cradle for policy

The OECD is developing a strategy for nations to measure and ultimately promote innovation. It requires knowledge of a complex system, say Fred Gault and Susanne Huttner.

Nature 455, 462 (25 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455462a


Innovation policy: not just a jumbo shrimp

Policies that predict and direct innovative research might seem to be a practical impossibility, says David H. Guston, but social sciences point to a solution.

David H. Guston

Nature 454, 940 (21 August 2008) doi:10.1038/454940a


China: The prizes and pitfalls of progress

Pushes to globalize science must not threaten local innovations in developing countries, argues Lan Xue.

Lan Xue

Nature 454, 398–401 (24 July 2008) doi:10.1038/454398a


A new relationship

Fuelling innovation requires a different kind of collaboration between industrial and academic researchers, argues Bill Destler.

Bill Destler

Nature 453, 853–854 (12 June 2008) doi:10.1038/453853a




Innovation policy for the next administration

David Goldston talks with experts about policies to implement innovation in this run up to the U.S. presidential election.