IPL Speaker Series

The Material Basis of Modern Technologies

February 2, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Innovation Policy Lab

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This event will take place in seminar room 208N, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON.
Critical raw materials are providing a crucial material infrastructure for current technological shifts. This presentation relies on some recent and ongoing research aimed at exploring the link between critical raw materials (particularly selected Rare Metals, RMs) and frontier technological innovation. By text mining USPTO patents during the period 1976-2017, our previous research confirmed that critical materials and RMs play an increasing role as the material basis for technological progress (e.g. Diemer et al., 2022), highlighting that the dependence varies significantly across RM types and technological areas (i.e. particularly high in fields such as semiconductors, nanotechnology, green energy, etc.) (Li, Ascani & Iammarino, 2022).
The presentation especially focuses on the relationship between three core sectors of renewable energy (RE) – Wind energy, Solar energy and Batteries – and the supply dynamics of RMs on which they depend, exploring the RE value chain and the spatial patterns of global RM supply. We further examine how exogenous shocks to RM availability, in terms of international price dynamics, affect RE industry development and technological innovation. The results indicate that controlling for other influencing factors (economic structure, policy, and resource endowment), product export and patent output of RE respond negatively to the RM price increase. Therefore, a stable RM supply plays a crucial role in achieving energy transition.
About our Speaker
Simona Iammarino is Professor of Applied Economics at the Department of Economics and Business of the University of Cagliari, Italy, and Visiting Professor at the Department of Geography & Environment of the LSE. She was Professor of Economic Geography at the LSE (2009-2022), where she acted as Head of Department (2014-2017) and academic member of the LSE Council (2016-2020). Simona has also been an affiliate faculty member at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) L’Aquila, Italy, since 2016, and member of the Board of the LSE-Cañada Blanch Centre since 2021.
Simona’s main research interests lie in the following areas: Multinational corporations, globalisation and local economic development; Geography of innovation and technological change; Regional systems of innovation; Regional and local economic development and policy. She has published more than 70 articles in major peer-reviewed journals, two co-authored books, around 30 book chapters, and numerous working papers, policy reports and other publications.
She was co-editor of Regional Studies (2008-2013), is currently co-editor of the Journal of Economic Geography, and a member of the RSA Board and Chair of the RSA Journal Committee. Simona has a long-term experience in externally funded international research projects, and in consultancy projects for various international organisations (e.g. EU Commission, OECD, United Nations) and numerous government agencies.
This event is sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School.
Innovation Policy Lab


headshot of Simona Iammarino
Simona Iammarino

Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics