'We are competing with the world': — Minister Kahlon explains why Mariana Mazzucato was hired to advise on BC's economic plan

"My time in sport has taught me that when you're competing against the world, you want to learn from other people's experiences," said innovation and economic recovery minister Ravi Kahlon

The BC government has secured the services of Professor Mariana Mazzucato, an international expert on innovation and economics, to help shape the province’s economic growth plan.

Mazzucato and her team at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) will advise the BC government as it develops its economic plan, which will be released in the fall, according to jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister Ravi Kahlon.

As part of the plan’s development, the government says it will seek input from BC business groups, labour, Indigenous Nations, post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, local governments and the public. Minister Kahlon is leading the public and stakeholder engagement on the plan.

The province said Mazzucato will help align public-sector capabilities, financing mechanisms and citizen engagement with a “mission-oriented innovation strategy for building an inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Her background appears to mesh well with the “triple-bottom-line” mandate of InBC, the province’s recently announced $500 million Strategic Investment Fund.

“Governments have a critical role to play in shaping markets, not just fixing market failures,” Mazzucato said in a statement. “Responding after a failure has occurred is, by definition, too late—and often carries a high financial and human cost, as we have seen with COVID-19 and the 2008 financial crisis.”

As to why the government hired an expert from across the pond to contribute to what is supposed to be a plan built on local citizen feedback and engagement, Minister Kahlon said, “The recovery plan for BC will be built by BC for BC. But it's important to note that we are competing with the world. My time in sport has taught me that when you're competing against the world, you want to learn from other people's experiences, other jurisdictions' experiences.

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“That's what we're doing… Professor Mazzucato comes with a wealth of experience working with other jurisdictions all over the world, but what I like a lot about her is that she’s also always trying to learn.

“And so my hope is along the way, that our thought leaders here in BC can also share some learnings with Professor Mazzucato and her team. We’re really wanting to position our economic recovery plan with insights from British Columbians, but also knowing that we are preparing to compete with other jurisdictions. And this is the way I think that British Columbians would want us to move forward as well.”