The future of Brain Capital

Brain Capital has taken another leap forward thanks to a global collective effort called the Brain Capital Alliance, which was recently launched via a series of events across Europe.  

The ‘Brain Capital’ framework emphasises the economic importance of our brains – incorporating brain health and brain skills in the knowledge economy. This framework assumes that our brains are our greatest asset and provides an approach to define brain issues, quantify them, and track them.  

And considering the many challenges facing society now – from rising rates of depression and anxiety to the effects of long COVID to concerns over fake news susceptibility and educational losses during COVID – researchers believe Brain Capital can be driven into policies and investments for great benefit. 

Dr Harris Eyre is an Adjunct Associate Professor at IMPACT, co-lead of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s Neuroscience Inspired Policy Initiative and the lead of the new Brain Capital Alliance. 

Dr Harris Eyre

‘We were delighted to complete our developmental phase with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) New Approaches to Economic Challenges group in collaboration with the PRODEO Institute,’ Dr Eyre says. 

‘This was the Neuroscience-inspired Policy Initiative (NIPI) and we examined the application of ideas originating in neuroscience and medicine to economic and social policy, including productivity, gender equality, mental health, education and others. 

‘The Brain Capital Alliance now enters a controlled launch phase and integrates additional public and private organisations to advance this movement.’ 

Dr Harris Eyre 

Three Brain Capital Alliance events were held in Europe – the first was the Annual Conference of JNPN – Journées Neurosciences Psychiatrie Neurologie on 30 June in Paris, where Clement Beaune, the French Minister for European Affairs was a keynote speaker.  

The second event was held at the Center for European Policy Studies on 4 July in Brussels with speakers from the World Health Organization, the European Commission, EBRAINS and the European Federation for Neurological Associations. 

And the third event was held at the Euro-Mediterranean Economist Association in collaboration with Colorado University at Denver on 6 July in Barcelona.  

The final event on focused on youth Brain Capital and was held at the Federation for European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum on 12 July 2022 in Paris. This event was held in collaboration with the European Brain Council.  

It is not just Europeans who are embracing the Alliance, with it also making waves in Australia. Professor Michael Berk, Director of IMPACT, has been intimately involved in this work since its inception having co-authored the seminal paper in Molecular Psychiatry, a prestigious neuroscience journal. 

‘Brain Capital is a powerful new economic and policy instrument. This work could help address major global issues such as unravelling the causes of bipolar disorder, early childhood brain development, and the negative effects of plastics on the brain. We were delighted recently to host Grand Rounds on this topic with Hon Jay Weatherill AO, CEO of Thrive by Five and Matt Wright, Partner of Deloitte Access Economics.,’ Prof. Berk says.  

I look forward to supporting this group to develop new economic arguments to scale up investment in mental health – we could unlock previously unforeseen funding sources.’ 

Professor Michael Berk  

‘The recent census found that mental health conditions were the most common chronic diseases in Australia. We now have a great opportunity in Australia to incorporate Brain Capital framework to improve the lives of many Australians.’  

There has been much praise for the Brain Capital Alliance, and it is showing promise that it could be the push needed to overhaul mental health care across the globe. 

‘Since I co-launched this work in 2021 with the OECD, I am pleased to see this group moving from theory to action,’ says Admiral Bill McRaven, retired four-star Admiral and former head of US Special Operations Command.  

‘There is a bright future for humanity as this group looks to meld public policy, leadership and investment innovations in the pursuit of better brain health.’ 

Explore our series on Brain Capital here. Find out more about The Brain Capital Alliance here