Science Breakfast

Paths to Innovation: Restoring Grassroots Dynamism to Address Global Challenges; Hosted by Mars, Incorporated - Upon invitation only


Abstract

While the idea of innovation is often associated with an invention or an inventor, this is actually only the beginning of the complex process that Edmund Phelps (Economics Nobel Laureate, 2006) describes as a “new method or a new product becoming a new practice”. At the Mars, Incorporated Science Breakfast, Romesh Vaitilingam (VoxEU.org) will moderate a panel discussion focusing on this process and what is needed to restore the grassroots dynamism that can drive transformational innovation for better lives – or what Professor Phelps calls ‘mass flourishing’.

The panel will feature contributions from Edmund Phelps and Ralph Jerome (Vice President of Corporate Innovation at Mars, Incorporated) as well as a selected young economist.

Edmund Phelps was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2006 for his analysis of inter-temporal tradeoffs in macroeconomics. He is McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University and Director of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society. In his latest book, ‘Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change’ (2013), Professor Phelps outlines what makes nations prosper and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. He argues that most innovation is not driven by a few isolated visionaries, but rather by “dynamism” on a mass scale: millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market new products and processes.

Ralph Jerome has been the Vice President of Corporate Innovation at Mars, Incorporated since establishing a dedicated transformational innovation function at the company in 2013. The Mars Corporate Innovation function was set up as a flexible and interconnected organization linked to a global network of top-class collaborators. In this context, Jerome has led the adoption of a “grand challenge” approach at Mars to target breakthroughs that address the critical food, agriculture, and health issues faced by industry and society as a whole.

The Mars, Incorporated Science Breakfast will bring together the views of Laureates, industry practitioners and young economists—both on the panel and in the audience—to trigger robust discussion on the role of innovation in addressing the great global challenges.


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