Mariana Mazzucato

Photo: Courtesy of the University of Sussex

Mariana Mazzucato, J90, has been named one of two recipients of the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought, awarded by the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts.

Named after the Nobel Prize–winning economist and GDAE advisory board member Wassily Leontief, the prize goes each year to economic theorists doing innovative work that, among other things, promotes a comprehensive understanding of social and environmental processes and supports just and sustainable societies. Also receiving the prize was Branko Milanovic, visiting Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center City University of New York and senior scholar at the Stone Center for Socioeconomic Inequality.

Mazzucato, who is a professor in the economics of innovation and public value at University College London, and director of the school’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, was chosen based on her groundbreaking research on the positive role of governments in fostering innovation. “What has been insufficiently recognized, before the work of Mariana Mazzucato, is the critical role of governments in innovation and hence the role of the public sector in the process of wealth creation,” said GDAE codirector Neva Goodwin. “As Mazzucato points out, taxpayers have been the real venture capitalists, funding not only upstream basic science, but also some of the riskiest investments downstream. Her work argues for concrete ways to make sure both the risks and the rewards are better shared so that smart growth is also more inclusive growth.” At an awards ceremony next April, Mazzucato will give a lecture on globalization, innovation, and inequality.

After majoring in history and international relations at Tufts, Mazzucato went on to earn her Ph.D. in economics at the New School for Social Research. Her book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths was on the Financial Times’ 2013 Books of the Year list, and in 2013 she was named one of the New Republic’s “3 most important thinkers about innovation.” In 2014 she won the New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy, and the following year was awarded the Hans-Matthöfer-Preis by the German think tank Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Today Mazzucato advises policymakers around the world on innovation-led growth and sits on the Scottish government’s Council of Economic Advisors, the leadership council of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the advisory council to Sitra, a public innovation fund and foundation in Finland.

Meanwhile, two of her research projects—“Innovation-Fueled, Sustainable, Inclusive Growth” and “Distributed Global Financial Systems for Society”—are being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Mazzucato is also the co-editor of the 2016 book Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, and is writing a new book, The Value of Everything, which will be published in 2018.