IPL Speaker Series

Unveiling the Interplay Between Digital Technologies and Skills

October 12, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Innovation Policy Lab

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This event will take place in-person in Seminar Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON.
Advanced digital technologies (DTs), such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud Computing, 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotics, are changing the process to develop, produce and deliver products, processes and services. They are considered important drivers of higher demand for skilled labour and improved job quality and productivity increase (Lane and Saint-Martin, 2021). Classified under the “Industry 4.0” phenomenon driving the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (4IR), these six DTs are defined as the “next generation digital technologies” because of their capacity to be disruptive, pervasive, and transformational (Cho, et al., 2022; Martinelli et al., 2021; Schwab, 2016). Due to their unprecedented potential for technological change and important transformation of industries, labour markets and societies (OECD, 2016), it is expected that they will boost competitiveness and innovation across regions and business through the integration of new value-adding technologies into the existing ones (Bayley and De Propris, 2019; EC, 2017).
However, readiness for technological development and adoption of DTs remains a critical factor and, specifically, internal capabilities and changes in the skills knowledge base have been recently identified as key elements for firms to be better prepared to access and adopt new DTs (Coro et al., 2021). Based on this framework, this work has two objectives. First, we investigate the development of DTs and skills as a co-evolutionary phenomenon focusing on the spatial distribution of Industry 4.0 in the UK. It contributes to the current literature on evolutionary economic geography by shedding light on the evolution of technological trajectories in regions as local repositories of competences and knowledge. Second, we move into firm level analysis to analyse how pervasive is the adoption and use of advanced DTs and what are the dynamics of technology adoption and organizational skills required to adopt the most advanced technologies by firms. Using the distinctive case of Greater Manchester and a unique bespoke survey the study reveals patterns of firms’ adoption of DTs and skills; the underlying motivations and potential barriers towards digital transformation within individual firms; and it explores the influence of digitalisation on firms’ productivity.  
About the speaker
Mabel Sánchez Barrioluengo is Senior Lecturer in Science Policy and Innovation at the Alliance Manchester Business School and Deputy Director of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. Previously she worked as Research Fellow at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in the area of Human Capital and Employment. She has a degree in Statistics and holds a PhD from the Technical University of Valencia and INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) in Spain with a particular focus on the economics of higher education. Her main research interests are in the involvement of universities in economic development, university-society collaborations, and the relationship between digital technologies, skills, employment and human capital. Her research has been published in several international journals like Research Policy, Scientometrics, Science and Public Policy, Regional Studies, etc.
This event is sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.
Innovation Policy Lab


head shot of Mabel Sánchez Barrioluengo
Mabel Sánchez Barrioluengo

Senior Lecturer, Science Policy and Innovation, Alliance Manchester Business School; Deputy Director, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research