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Winners of the Babbage Industrial Innovation Policy Awards 2022 announced

Published on January 12th 2023

The Babbage Forum, University of Cambridge, are delighted to announce the winners of the Babbage Industrial Innovation Policy Awards 2022. The judges were very impressed with the quality of the entries they received and faced a tough choice to choose our winners. We awarded one paper for top prize and gave two papers joint second.

Winners: Nikhil Kalathil, Afonso Amaral
Joint Second: Guendalina Anzolin, Lim Ser Yong

We would like to congratulate the winners and thank everyone who took the time to submit an entry. For further details about the papers and their authors please see below:

Winners: Nikhil Kalathil, Afonso Amaral (pictured above)
National and Sub-National Policy for Domestic Manufacturing Flexibility: A Policy Framework to Incentivize Flexibility Based on Lessons from the COVID-19 Medical Supply Response  

In this paper, we propose a policy framework to support economic dynamism and manufacturing flexibility that makes use of the full suite of local and regional as well as national policy mechanisms. The goal of this framework is to appropriately incentivize both pre-crisis and during-crises investments in flexibility among firms of all sizes, taking advantage of the specific strengths and weaknesses of firms of different sizes. We perform a five country case study to unpack the different policies implemented by Germany, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States of America to help domestic firms increase or pivot their production of medical supplies and equipment during COVID-19.

We argue that national/federal support for firms should be focused on acting as central repositories of  information, and on working with large multi-businesses firms that are particularly capable of redeploying resources across locations & products. Conversely, local, regional, and state governments should seek to provide targeted aid (in the form of upgrading existing capabilities and filling missing ones by brokering partnerships with public and private entities) to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they enter into product spaces experiencing shortages. The proposed framework is intended to provide countries with a new perspective on how to leverage the whole range of domestic firms in response to a crisis, instead of solely relying on large manufacturers. Understanding that regional and local institutional actors have a role to play in facilitating SMEs to enter new markets might allow countries to utilize their internal industry while supplying underserved markets.

Nikhil Kalathil
Kalathil is an economist and civil and environmental engineer who has been focusing on science, technology, and manufacturing policy and strategy for the past eight years, with an emphasis on regional economic development and manufacturing flexibility. He is currently a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. His work has focused on mapping and measuring global value chains, and the rapid identification of firms as they enter into product spaces experiencing extreme shortages. Prior to starting his PhD, he worked at SRI International, developing a Global Common Operating picture of semiconductor manufacturing for the Department of Defense, and building a logic model to measure the impact of economic development grants. Over the past two years, Kalathil has conducted extensive data monitoring of, and  interviews, with firms as well as regional and federal actors about their efforts to ramp up domestic PPE manufacturing in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and has also contributed to efforts about addressing the semiconductor shortages in the automotive and defense industries through more flexible, and common designs.

Afonso Amaral
Amaral is a mechanical engineer who has been focusing on Industrial policy over the past 5 years. He has specialized in maturity models and implementation of critical technologies in Small and Medium Enterprises, their integration in Industry 4.0, and how these companies can shape themselves to reap the full benefits of their inherent digital transformation. He is currently a candidate for both the PhD Programs in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and at Instituto Superior Técnico of the Universidade de Lisboa (IST-UL), as well as an affiliated researcher and board member at IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research. Over the past two years, Amaral has explored different economic mechanisms to monitor Supply Chain disruptions. In his most recent work with the Chief Economist team at the European Commission, Amaral published a Supply Chain Alert Notificationmonitoring system.

Joint second place to Guendalina Anzolin and Lim Ser Yong
Guendalina Anzolin – Emerging technologies and their diffusion mechanisms: public support between the shopfloor and the ecosystem

This paper focuses on technological diffusion, giving a prominent role to firms, which are understood as parts of innovation ecosystems, where institutions, universities, and system integrator actors can leverage their complementarities and provide solutions to production and social problems (Pitelis, 2012). This approach allows a more granular understanding of the relations and the complementarities that characterize firms and institutions operating across different value chains (Ponte and Gereffi, 2019) and within the ‘multi-layered knowledge ecosystem’ (Xu, 2019). We argue that such a view is essential to inform more coordinated, effective and resilient policies that foster the adoption and diffusion of new technologies. Reference to a case study on the adoption of industrial robots in the automotive sector in South Africa provides a practical example.

Guendalina Anzolin
Guendalina is a Research Associate at the Center for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge. Guendalina’s research focus lies in technology adoption and diffusion mechanisms, studying them through the lenses of global value chains and national and regional ecosystems.  She has a MSc in Global Economic Governance and Policy from SOAS University of London and a PhD in Industrial Economics from the University of Urbino (Italy).

Lim Ser Yong -Technology Extension Partnership – Re-thinking Technology Innovation for Enterprise Development

The term “Extension Service” or “University Extension” refers to an informal educational opportunity provided by colleges and universities to people who are not enrolled as regular students. The process emphasizes taking knowledge gained through research and education and offers advice and information directly to people to solve their problems and to increase the efficiency and productivity of agricultural producers, small businesses, consumers, families, and young people.
There are four possible extension paradigms, namely,
– Technology transfer: involves a top-down approach that delivers specific recommendations to farmers about the practices they should adopt.
– Advisory work: this paradigm can be seen today where government organizations or private consulting companies respond to farmers’ inquiries with technical prescriptions and to promote predetermined packages of technology.
– Human resource development: This paradigm dominated the earliest days of extension when universities gave training to rural people who were unable to attend full-time courses. Top-down teaching methods are employed, but students are expected to make their own decisions about how to use the knowledge they acquire.
– Facilitation for empowerment: This paradigm involves methods such as experiential learning and knowledge is gained through interactive processes and the participants are encouraged to make their own decisions.

Dr Lim Ser Yong
Dr Lim is currently A*STAR Senior Fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore. He is the advisor to the USS I&E Programme Office of the Enterprise Division of A*STAR to engage the industry in the Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS) domain. Dr Lim was seconded to the R&D Division of the Ministry of National Development as R&D Director to assist in formulating and translating national-level R&D and Science & Technology (S&T) strategies, policies, and initiatives in support of MND’s strategic priorities. Dr Lim joined the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore, in 1994 after obtaining his PhD. From 2005 to 2019, Dr Lim was appointed the Executive Director of SIMTech.

Dr Lim led the institute in the research and development of technologies in manufacturing processes, manufacturing automation, and manufacturing systems to support the manufacturing industry in Singapore. Under his leadership, SIMTech has established collaborations with many research organisations and universities around the world and forged strong tie with the manufacturing industry. SIMTech works with manufacturing companies in Aerospace, Automotive, MedTech, Precision Engineering, Electronics, Marine, Oil and Gas, and Logistics industry. SIMTech also embarks on skill-based diploma courses aiming at transferring advanced technology & knowledge to the industry.

Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy (CIIP) brings together the Centre for Science, Technology & Innovation Policy at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), the Policy Links Unit from IfM Engage, and the Babbage Policy Forum.

More information about the Babbage Forum can be found here.

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