The IPL newsletter: Volume 14, Issue 282

News from the IPL


This newsletter is published by The Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and sponsored by the Ministry of Research and Innovation. The views and ideas expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Ontario Government.


SSHRC to Launch the Imagining Canada’s Future Six Future Challenge Areas

Thursday, September 26, 2013, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. in the Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, 1 Devonshire Place, South House, at the Munk School of Global Affairs 

For Canada to be a successful 21st-century society we need to anticipate the challenges ahead and keep our minds open to the potential futures facing us all. This is the inspiration behind SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative.
Over the past two years, SSHRC conducted a cross-Canada and international consultation process, during which the Council reached out to more than 13,000 subject matter experts, members of the academic research community, and public and private sector leaders, to seek their insight. The goal was to identify future challenge areas for Canada in an evolving global context that are likely to emerge in five, 10 and 20 years and to which the social sciences and humanities research community could contribute its knowledge, talent and expertise.
The result was the selection of SSHRC’s six future challenge areas. They represent lenses through which SSHRC—in collaboration with the Canadian social sciences and humanities research   community—feels it can and should make a difference in the coming years. For more information, please see the video and web page.

These six future challenge areas will be presented at a panel discussion at the Munk School, hosted by Dr. David Wolfe, Director, Innovation Policy Lab, and will feature presentations by:

  • Dr. Gisèle Yasmeen, SSHRC Vice-President Research/Senior Advisor to the President
  • Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer, Associate Vice-President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies at OCAD University
  • Dr. Pekka Sinervo, Senior Vice-President of Research at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
  • Dr. Brent Herbert-Copley, SSHRC Vice-President of Research Capacity
  • Jennifer Corriero, Co-founder and Executive Director, Taking ITGlobal

To register for this event, please click here.
For further information, please contact:
Thérèse de Groote
Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Vice-President, Research

NEF Cyberlearning National Grant Initiative Sets Up 14 New STEM+ Academies in 11 States

The National Education Foundation (NEF), the national non-profit leader in STEM+ education, announced today that it is partnering with the State University of New York, TEKSystems, Pearson Education and Skillsoft to advance STEM+ education in 14 school districts during the 2013-14 school year. The goal of this initiative is to close the STEM+ (science, technology, engineering, math, English, social studies, SAT/ACT, IT and business) skills gap in the United States. By creating an effective school-nonprofit-university-business partnership, NEF can more effectively provide 21st century STEM+ education to disadvantaged K-12 students. The initiative also focuses on supporting the larger American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) to keep the United States competitive in critical STEM-related fields.

36 Companies to be Recognized as World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers

The World Economic Forum recently announced its latest selection of Technology Pioneers, consisting of 36 of the world’s most innovative technology start-ups. These companies are being recognized for their potential to transform the future of business and society. Their achievements will be honoured at the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2013 in Dalian, People’s Republic of China in September. Some of this year’s Technology Pioneers are being acknowledged for their efforts to cure genetic diseases, provide affordable drinking water and enable access to higher education, as well as to create innovative approaches to distributing natural light in buildings and offering wireless charging for electronic devices. Technology Pioneers are a part of the World Economic Forum’s community of pioneers, disruptors and innovators. These New Champions help other Forum members to better understand the future context of how business and society is being transformed.

Editor's Pick

EU Regional Competitiveness Index 2013

DG Regio, Brussels
The Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI) was first published in 2010 as the result of a coordinated action between the Joint Research Centre and the Directorate-General for Regional Policy. The index development started in 2008 and builds on the methodology developed by the World Economic Forum for the Global Competitiveness Index. It covers a wide range of issues related to territorial competitiveness including innovation, quality of institutions, infrastructure (including digital networks) and measures of health and human capital. RCI 2013 is the second edition of the index and includes updated and improved data together with method refinements.

Innovation Policy

Technology Parks vs. Science Parks: Does the University Make a Difference?

Alberto Albahari, et al. 
Although the notion of Science and Technology Parks (STPs) has become fairly widespread, however, the level of university involvement in these parks differs hugely. At the extremes, there are parks that are owned and managed by universities, and parks with no formal links of any kind with a university. The authors use data from the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) for Spain and a survey of STP park managers to analyse how the level of involvement of a university in the STP affects the innovation outputs of its tenants and their links with universities. They find that higher involvement of a university in the STP negatively affects tenant’s innovation sales and positively affects the number of patent applications. They find no robust evidence of the involvement of a university in the propensity for park firms to cooperate with a university or to purchase external R&D services from the university.

On the Threshold: Refocusing U.S. Export Assistance Strategy for Manufacturers

Stone & Associates
The recession forced a number of U.S. manufacturers and service providers to look outside national borders to not only succeed, but to survive in the face of a weak domestic market. This report argues that the U.S. must focus on bolstering manufacturing exports as a way to lessen U.S. reliance on its domestic market, reduce the trade deficit, and foster job creation. Rather than focus on macro-level strategy, the report centers on firm-level measures that export assistance organizations can take to aid small- and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs) in increasing their exports. Manufacturing represented 65 percent of U.S. goods exports and 46 percent of total exports (including service exports) in 2010. Although large manufacturers dominate the export market, SMMs still hold a significant share. They directly account for 19 percent of manufacturing sector export value and indirectly contribute to value produced by larger companies in the supply chain. The authors point to an opportunity for growth in foreign markets, as 80 percent of global purchasing power is outside the U.S. and this figure continues to rise. Unfortunately, three-quarters of SMMs exporters only sell to four or fewer markets, often unable to identify and capture other prospects in the international market.

Interconnected Economies: Benefiting from Global Value Chains

Global Value Chains (GVCs) have exploded in the past decade and refer to the international dispersion of design, production, assembly, marketing and distribution of services, activities, and products. Different stages in the production process are increasingly located across different economies, and intermediate inputs like parts and components are produced in one country and then exported to other countries for further production and/or assembly into final products. The functional and spatial fragmentation that has occurred within GVCs has significantly reshaped the global economic landscape, thereby raising some new major policy challenges for OECD countries and emerging countries alike: trade policy, competitiveness, upgrading and innovation and the management of global systemic risk.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

How to Make Cities Great

McKinsey & Company
Great cities are great for the people who live and work there, great for business, and great for the environment. Unsuccessful ones breed economic, environmental, and social decay. How can cities get urbanization right? In a report and accompanying video, McKinsey experts investigate the lessons that business and government leaders can learn from successful cities around the world. A related slideshow offers examples from six of them.

Statistics & Indicators

State Investment in Research and Development

This survey monitors public funding and performance of Research & Development (R&D) in Ireland and aims to capture key performance metrics within the State sector. 35 government departments and agencies who are engaged in some form of R&D activity in 2009-2010 were surveyed. This report presents findings for R&D funding for the final outturn data for 2009 together with estimates for 2010.

Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2013: An OECD Scorecard

Access to finance represents one of the most significant challenges for entrepreneurs and for the creation, survival and growth of small businesses. As governments address this challenge, they are running up against a major and longstanding obstacle to policy making: insufficient evidence and data. Better data is needed to understand the financing needs of SMEs and entrepreneurs and to provide the basis for informed institutional and public policy decisions. The OECD Scoreboard on financing SMEs and entrepreneurs represents a major step in addressing this obstacle by establishing a comprehensive international framework for monitoring SMEs’ and entrepreneurs’ access to finance over time. The Scoreboard presents data for a number of debt, equity and financing framework condition indicators. Taken together, they provide governments and other stakeholders with a tool to understand SMEs’ financing needs, to support the design and evaluation of policy measures and to monitor the implications of financial reforms on SMEs’ access to finance. This second edition comprises 25 countries, including Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. It includes an overview of SME financing trends and conditions across participating countries, focusing in particular on the changes which occurred between 2010 and 2011, and of government policy responses intended to improve SMEs’ access to finance.

Policy Digest

Policy Brief: Mind the Technology and Skills Gap

European Commission
This policy brief shows new evidence on the causes of the S&T skills gap in European regions. It highlights that the S&T skills gap is mainly due to shortages of capabilities that are crucial to support the innovation and growth of firms and the other actors of the regional system, including university and government. From these findings, ad hoc policy implications upon the development of innovation capabilities and skills for the European Research Strategy and Innovation agenda are proposed and future research issues identified.

The analysis of skills shortages and gaps at regional level can be very useful as very often it is at the level of the regional innovation system that interactions between industries and universities take place. One fundamental question to answer is: what are the STEM skills required by firms (not just now but also, and more importantly, in the foreseeable future)? In order to answer this question, it is key to take into account not only the specific needs and characteristics of the firm (analysing what strengths and opportunities they have) but also the regional context in which it is located (what strengths and opportunities the region offers).

Disentangling Capabilities and Competencies and their Supply and Demand

This report introduces a new way of thinking about skills gaps in the Capabilities and Competencies Framework (CCF). In this analytical framework, capabilities and competencies are disentangled.

At the most basic level, competencies mainly relate to enhancement of resources, while capabilities to enhancement of functions. In this sense, competencies could be seen as an output of formal education whilst capabilities would be shaped through wide and deep relationships nurtured mainly by the enhancement of services, learning by doing, specific non-transferable skills, knowledge development accumulated within the organization, realized activities, and a supply/demand-driven approach. At this point through the dialogue between university and firm, mutual needs are identified and satisfied only thanks to shared solutions. In this framework, formal and vocational education contributes to the competencies and capabilities building throughout training and the upgrading of company skills. For example, when hiring new staff an enhancement of resources is achieved, i.e. competencies; while investment in training produces an enhancement of services, i.e. capability-building, because of the knowledge accumulation developed within the firm’s environment.

Analyzing the STEM Skills Gap at the Regional Level

The investigation in this report shows that the STEM skills gap is not clearly a deficiency just in competencies, but more so in capabilities and in the links between the two. On one hand, firms do not always know what universities can offer in terms of supporting their innovativeness, so they look at technology transfer as the way to source competencies and capabilities from outside the firm. On the other hand, at times universities and firms may engage in collaborative projects as a way of accessing public funding, rather than as a way to facilitate innovation. The results show that STEM universities are trying to form better interactions with industry but that it is still left mostly to the personal relationships of professors.


In the context of national and regional innovation systems, policies can play an important role in supporting the required stable relationships between firms and universities, as well as with other relevant actors (such as governments, industrial and labour associations). Beyond a better design of programs to support University-Industry projects, exploiting the competencies and capabilities analytical framework would help policymakers to put in place adequate incentives for each group of actors to assign the necessary human and financial resources to play their roles in the supply of innovation skills. In performing such a role, industry and universities should be encouraged to establish regular interactions in a truly bidirectional supply chain of STEM skills.

When considering the design of support measures to the specific contribution of firms in addressing the innovation skills gap, policymakers still need more information and empirical evidence about the main drivers and barriers of firms’ training activities. First, a shared definition of skills and capabilities is needed in order to deal with data classification. Second, the measurement of human capital and skills is still very challenging since the level of education and/or qualification only seizes some features of human capital without identifying certain types of skills. In fact, this may be the cause of the mismatch between qualifications and jobs.

Finally, and in a broader policy context, establishing an open dialogue platform within the government, with the participation of industry and university representatives, may support the decision-making process. At national level, the ministers responsible for science policy may be encouraged to interact with the ministries of industry and employment to increase awareness of the profound changes occurring in organizations and firms in order to create synergies and avoid duplication. In the EU context, where education and employment policies remain largely the competence of Member States, additional measures to strengthen coordination and promote possible co-regulation on specific educational aspects (such as vocational and continuous company training for innovation) should be considered.


Regional Innovation Policy Dynamics: Actor, Agency and Learning

Manchester, UK, 23-24 September, 2013
The network seeks to advance the understanding of regional policy dynamics, the role of agency and leadership in policy change and institutionalisation, and associated challenges for policy evaluation. The workshop in Manchester builds on previous workshops in San Sebastian in 2012 and Tampere in 2013 and seeks to explore new methodologies, concepts and evidence that contribute to the understanding of public policy processes and regional dynamics.

Imagining Canada’s Future Six Future Challenge Areas

Toronto, 26 September, 2013
For Canada to be a successful 21st-century society it needs to anticipate the challenges ahead and keep minds open to the potential futures. This is the inspiration behind SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative. Over the past two years, SSHRC conducted a cross-Canada and international consultation process, during which the Council reached out to more than 13,000 subject matter experts, members of the academic research community, and public and private sector leaders, to seek their insight. The goal was to identify future challenge areas for Canada in an evolving global context that are likely to emerge in five, 10 and 20 years and to which the social sciences and humanities research community could contribute its knowledge, talent and expertise.
The result was the selection of SSHRC’s six future challenge areas. They represent lenses through which SSHRC—in collaboration with the Canadian social sciences and humanities research community—feels it can and should make a difference in the coming years. These six future challenge areas will be presented at a panel discussion at the Munk School, hosted by Dr. David Wolfe, Director, Innovation Policy Lab,

Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy

Atlanta, GA, 26-28 September, 2013
The Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy provides a showcase for the highest quality scholarship addressing the multidimensional challenges and interrelated characteristics of science and innovation policy and processes. This year’s sessions will explore the research front addressing the broad range of issues central to the structure, function, performance and outcomes of the science and innovation enterprises.

International Benchmarking Forum 2013: Smart Specialization Strategies of Cities and Regions in Europe

Basel, Switzerland, 26-27 September, 2013
Smart Specialization means identifying the unique characteristics and assets of each country and region and thus highlighting each region’s true competitive advantages and potential. This process enables more effective rallying of regional stakeholders and resources around an excellence-driven vision of the future. It also means strengthening regional innovation systems, maximizing knowledge flows and spreading the benefits of innovation throughout the entire regional economy. In order to find answers to these challenges deeper knowledge about sectors, technological developments, and trends is needed. A better assessment of capabilities, potential, demand, and aspirations of regional and national stakeholders is essential. Smart Specialization is the basis of EU Structural Fund Investments in Research & Innovation (R&I) as part of the future Cohesion Policy of the EU within the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda. The conference gathers European and non-European stakeholders dealing with Smart Specialization strategies, coming from National, regional and also municipal levels, including scientists as well as business and governmental representatives.

City Age: The Innovation City

Waterloo Region, 9-10 October, 2013
Join business leaders and city builders from across Canada and abroad to explore the partnerships in urban design, infrastructure development, research and urban resiliency that are the foundations of an innovation economy. Timed to coincide with North America’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, this two day event will provide a practical look at the steps your community, company, or organisation can take to lead in the 21st Century.

2nd European Colloquium on Culture, Creativity and the Economy

Berlin, Germany, 10-11 October, 2013
During the past decades myriad links between culture, creativity and economic practice have become major topics of interdisciplinary debates. No longer restricted to a few sectors, there is a growing consensus that the intersections between these spheres and symbolic and culturally embedded values in particular, pervade the global economy. Indeed, the formerly distinct logics of the cultural and the economic have become increasingly indiscernible. Similarly, the notion of creativity, once used to express exceptional talent, activities and outcomes, is now considered a key component to success in all fields of economic activity. At the same time, the Internet has revolutionized the conditions under which cultural production and distribution as well as creative collaboration can be undertaken. Despite the high degree of uncertainty about future developments, policy makers as well as business managers are highly optimistic, if not enthusiastic, about the ability of symbolic values and creativity to drive sustained economic growth and regional development. This colloquium will take up and continue an international and interdisciplinary debate on these topics.

Higher Education Institutions and Regional Development 

Mönchengladbach, Germany, 14-15 October, 2013
Niederrhein Institute for Regional and Structural Research (NIERS) hosts 3rd ERSA International Workshop. Topic isHigher Education Institutions and Regional Development”. The event takes place at Hochschule Niederrhein – University of Applied Sciences in Mönchengladbach, 14-15 October 2013. The final program will be available shortly.

8th International Seminar on Regional Innovation Policies

Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, 10-11 October, 2013

This will be the latest in the stream of annual seminars that began in Porto in 2006 and have since been hosted in Saltzburg, Santander, Edinburgh, Grimstad, Lund and again in Porto (2012). These seminars have placed strong emphasis on regions as a key unit for policy analysis, highlighting the role that regional innovation policies can play in building sustainable competitive advantages. At a time when regions across Europe are adapting to new realities brought about by a deep and widespread economic downturn, changing environmental constraints and emerging social challenges, it is more critical than ever to analyze the roles and impacts of regional innovation policies. The seminar provides a meeting point for researchers, policy-makers, academics, practitioners and doctoral students interested in issues related to regional innovation policy, regional competitiveness and regional development. You are invited to present and discuss the results of cutting-edge applied research, and to join in learning together how to better understand regional innovation dynamics and how policies can orient these dynamics towards meeting existing and future regional challenges.

Aerospace Innovation Forum 

Montreal, 2-4 December, 2013
In a highly competitive global market where environmental regulations are tightening, innovation remains a major competitive advantage for companies. However, to position themselves on future aircraft programs and in the supply chains of major OEMs, companies need new approaches. Instead of working in a silo with the sole aim of creating new products, innovation must now be pursued in a global and systematic way. It must be at the very heart of companies’ critical activities, encompassing design, manufacturing and operations, as well as end-of-life product management. Companies must also innovate in the way they finance new projects and manage, organize and train human resources. These complementary challenges will be discussed in more detail during the Aero Financing and Aero Training seminars that will be held on the third day of the Aerospace Innovation Forum 2013.

The Geography of Innovation

Utrecht, The Netherlands, 23-25 January, 2014
This conference provides a forum for discussion to scholars and practitioners interested in scientific, policy and strategic issues concerning the spatial dimension of innovation activities. The main objective of this event is to bring together reserachers from a variety of disciplines ranging from economic geography, economics, management science, sociology, network theory, regional science and urban studies. The conference invites contributions in a wide range of topics underlying the geography of innovation, such as: global and local dynamics of innovation; science and technology policy; cluster competitiveness; firms R&D strategies; entrepreneurships; innovation systems; sustainable and social innovation; industrial dynamics and innovation networks.

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This newsletter is prepared by Jen Nelles.
Project manager is David A. Wolfe.