December 3, 2020 0 Comments

I’ve read once this in a tweet from @Startup_Canada

“I failed 3 times in college. I applied 30 times to get a job but I have always been rejected. When KFC came to China for the first time, we were 24 to apply and I was the only one to be dismissed. I wanted to go into the police and 5 postulants, I was the only one not to be accepted. I applied 10 times to return to Harvard University in the USA and I was rejected.

Jack Ma, Alibaba Creator and 22nd largest World fortune according to Forbes Magazine in 2015 with $ 29.8 billion. Never give up because you failed once, know that failure is sometimes out of the way to reach your intended route !!!

And definitely remind me of Frank’s opinion on Venture Capital. That does come along with the ideas of an excellent recent book written by Matt Ridley, that I think everyone in the start-up environment, should read at least once.

Matt Ridley, How innovation works book ideas

When you think about it, what has happened to human society in the last 300 years is quite strange. After running along with horses and sailboats, slaves and swords, for millennia we suddenly have steam engines and search engines, planes and cars and electricity and computers and social media and DNA sequences. We gave ourselves a perpetual motion machine called innovation. The more we innovate, the more innovation became possible. It is by far the greatest story of the last three centuries – the main cause of the decline of extreme poverty to unprecedented levels, yet we know curiously little about why it happened, let alone when, where, and how it can be done to continue. It certainly did not start as a result of deliberate policies.

Even today, apart from throwing money at scientists in the hope that they can start businesses and subsidies at companies in the hope that they can deliver products, we have little idea how to encourage innovation at the political level. Moreover, economists have been in a special mess about innovation for a long time. The economist’s profession has spent a few centuries assuming that markets tend to balance themselves, through the invisible hand. Hence John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes and all the others rightly assumed that we would see diminishing returns dominating the human effort. But instead, we experienced increasing returns, accelerating invention. As author David Warsh put it in his book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (2006) a few years ago, economists obsessed with Adam Smith’s invisible hand but forgot his pin factory, where specialization led to innovation.

Now, thanks to people like Paul Romer, winner of the Nobel Prize, the penny has finally fallen: there is an effectively infinite number of ways to reorganize the world’s atoms and bits into useful combinations, and that return can increase forever. At the same time, people have discovered that the societies that innovate the most are those that have the most freedom for people to exchange ideas. It was freedom, not state direction, that made Victorian Britain and modern California the focus of innovation. It was state leadership that prevented Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Union from being a similar incubator.

Necessity is not the mother of invention. Ambition is. In the new book How Innovation Works, I argue that the state rarely deserves credit for stimulating innovation, in public health and elsewhere: “Much more often inventions and discoveries arise by chance and exchange ideas and are pushed, pulled, shaped, transformed and brought to life by people who act as individuals, companies, markets and, yes, sometimes public servants. Trying to pretend that the government is the main actor in this process, much less one with targeted intentionality, is an essentially creative approach to an essentially evolutionary phenomenon. ”

In a year marked by economic collapse and the worst pandemic in a century, it is more important than ever that we remember this lesson. From the top down, state organizations of the Chinese Communist Party to the World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration and Public Health in England have repeatedly misled the public and strangled the experimentation and technological innovation needed to react to the outbreak of VOCID-19 or address the economic consequences of the pandemic.

From testing, to curing, to developing a vaccine, to creative and practical methods of physical distancing, the solution to today’s crises is more innovation, not less. This means more freedom, not less.

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