Q&A: Defining Inclusive Growth and Innovation

How can innovation make growth more inclusive? The New Urban Progress working group on Inclusive Growth and Innovation sketches out the challenges cities face – and the solutions that innovation can offer. In this Q&A, the Inclusive Growth and Innovation working group presents (and answers) key questions on the intersections between innovation, inclusion, and growth in urban spaces. 

Below you may find an excerpt of the questions and answers and a link to the entire Q&A. 

Defining Inclusive Growth and Innovation

By Victoria Boeck, Ian Lundy, and Maria Willett

How have the topics of inclusive growth and innovation resonated with us to date?

A political constant in our lives has been a focus on growth. The assumption that growth fosters prosperity transcends country, political system, and culture. However we’ve seen decades (centuries really) of growth, fueled by innovation in the industrialized West, and this growth has consistently delivered prosperity for only a select few. For most, unbridled growth has led to large increases in inequality, and the rising tide doesn’t seem to be ‘lifting all boats’. To take America, in recent decades there has been a decline in life expectancy for those in the lower socioeconomic rungs. If life expectancy isn’t increasing (or at least stable), for everyone, the formula doesn’t seem to be working.

So how do we solve this?

In reflecting on this dynamic, the members of the “Inclusive Growth and Innovation” working group want to focus on strategies for inclusion. Growth doesn’t naturally solve inclusion, so we think it (inclusion) needs to be built into the system intentionally (even if it is at the expense of some growth). We want to explore innovation not as just the fuel for growth but as the creative means to rethink systems, structures and approaches in ways that further inclusivity.

About the Working Group

The New Urban Progress Fellows are organized in three working groups, each looking at current challenges and opportunities for cities and urban spaces on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to Inclusive Growth and Innovation, the two other groups are Networked Governance and Democracy as well as Sustainability and Social Mobility. Each group is made up of young urban leaders living across Germany and the United States. They meet digitally on a regular basis to exchange ideas and discuss progressive policy for the cities of tomorrow. During the fellowship, the groups will produce analyses, op-eds, debate papers, travel blogs, and more – watch this space or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with all of the fellows’ latest posts.

The Inclusive Growth and Innovation working group debates the impact of economic, social and environmental transformations happening in cities – and how both economic and political innovation can make urban spaces more inclusive and fair for all residents. The group members include Andrea Jonas, Ian Lundy, Jamaal Glenn, Marc Lendermann, Maria Willett, Richard Lawrence Jr., and Victoria Boeck.

Members of the Working Group

  • Andrea Jonas is Project Manager for international urban development at the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Developement (BBSR).
  • Ian Lundy is Director of public-private partnerships at the New York City Housing Authority.
  • Jamaal Glenn is Director at Schmidt Futures and Adjunct Professor at New York University.
  • Marc Lendermann is Economic Counselor for the German Consulate General San Francisco.
  • Maria Willett is Chief of Staff at the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan.
  • Richard Lawrence Jr. is Principal Planner at the city of Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Victoria Boeck is Research Associate for open data at the Technologiestiftung Berlin.