15 February 2008

Why immigration is vital to innovation

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The Difference Dividend
Just like any other innovative company in Europe, Experientia is sometimes faced with very tough immigration laws. Hiring someone from outside the EU is quite a challenge and sometimes results in us loosing out on the opportunity to attract really good people.

So I am pleased to see some debate on the issue. NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, has just published a “provocation” written by Charles Leadbeater (author of We-Think) on why immigration is vital to innovation.

Entitled “The Difference Dividend“, the essay starts of with an outline of the three critical connections between immigration, innovation and creativity, argues (rightfully) that the debate about immigration is conducted in a thick fog of prejudice, anecdote and rumour, and describes in detail the critical contributions immigration makes to our capacity to innovate.

Leadbeater warns that diversity is not enough for innovation to take place (“The costs of diversity need to be well managed to make sure the benefits come through.”), highlights how people need to trust one another to share ideas and build upon one another’s contributions for innovation to emerge, and ends with four main implications for policymakers keen to maximise the impact of immigration on innovation.

Timely indeed, as multiculturalism came again under attack today in the UK (see The Guardian and The Times).

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