The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 337

News from the IPL


RE$EARCH Money Special Budget Coverage

RE$EARCH Money has prepared extensive coverage of the science, technology and innovation initiatives in this week’s federal Budget. Please check the website (see the section on the right sidebar, under Conference News) for insight into the Budget plus commentary from leading authorities on research an innovation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Announces New “What Works Cities” Initiative

Philanthropy News Digest
Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected six new cities to participate in its What Works Cities initiative, which is working to enhance the use of data and data-based evidence by municipal governments to improve services, inform local decision making, and boost citizen engagement. Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Victorville, California, will join twenty-one other cities already participating in the initiative in reviewing their use of data and data-based evidence and will receive strategic guidance and technical assistance with respect to areas for improvement. In making the announcement, Bloomberg Philanthropies noted that despite evidence showing that the use of data to inform decision making can drive improvements at the municipal level, many cities fail to do so owing to a lack of capacity.

Google and the Feds Team Up to Build the City of the Future

Alex Davies, Wired
The Department of Transportation announced it is working with Sidewalk Labs, Google’s smart-cities research unit, under its Smart City Challenge. The contest invites medium-sized cities to create comprehensive plans outlining how they’d use things like automated vehicles, on-demand services, and open data. The best idea wins $50 million to begin implementing it. Seven cities have made the final round: Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Pittsburgh; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Kansas City, Missouri. The DOT is giving each city $100,000 and three months to flesh out its proposal.

Editor's Pick

 The City as Platform: How Digital Networks are Changing Urban Life and Governance

David Bollier, The Aspen Institute
Each year the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program convenes a roundtable to consider the impact of information and communications technologies on some aspect of our social landscape. The Roundtable on Information Technology met to consider the impact of networks and networking on cities. Thirty leaders and experts from local and the federal governments, businesses, non-profits, academia and philanthropy met for an intensive two days to address the topic from technological, economic, social, cultural and policy viewpoints. This report captures the essence and nuances of the group’s discussions. Just as businesses are finding that the rapidly changing digital environment pushes them to become or use platforms in their various ecosystems, the Roundtable found that the best way for cities to think of themselves going forward in this atmosphere is as a platform. That is, cities can leverage digital and network technologies, tapping the expertise of its many citizens and stakeholders, to work for solutions to urban problems, co-create new activities, and engage citizens more directly in the city’s work and play. They can use open data, crowd sourcing and urban prototyping to enhance both government services and enjoyment of local life in the city. The movement to networks, digital technologies and the gig economy has created problems, though, as well as solutions. Most significant of those is the rising inequality among citizens, and the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on jobs now and into the future. The Roundtable and the report tackles some of these issues, at least highlighting some approaches that governments might take to promote safety nets for those “left behind.” Finally, the report sets out a way of thinking about how governments should react by adopting policies in four asset areas: infrastructure, people, technology and data. While specific policy proposals are not offered, there are a number of topic areas where thoughtful local policy-makers might start.

Innovation Policy

OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Sweden 2016

The 2016 Sweden Review of Innovation Policy deepens the previous Review by focusing on six policy initiatives central to the 2008 and 2012 Swedish Research and Innovation Bills,  notably: 1) the increase in funding for university research, 2) the establishment of Strategic Research Areas, 3) actions designed to enhance the role of research institutes in Sweden’s innovation system, 4) the definition and funding of Strategic Innovation Areas in collaboration with industrial, academic and research institute actors, 5) the initiation of a Challenge-Driven Innovation program addressing societal challenges, 6) improved prioritization and support for Swedish participation in European research and innovation activities.

5 Myths About Life Science Innovation in the U.S.

Rob Atkinson, ITIF
There has long been a de facto consensus among U.S. policymakers that America’s system for discovering and developing new drugs is the world’s best, and that there are two reasons for that success: First, the federal government provides robust funding for scientific research, mostly through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Second, the U.S. system encourages vigorous innovation in the private sector by providing strong intellectual property protections and a drug reimbursement system that allow companies to earn enough to reinvest in risky research and development. But this consensus is now under intense pressure from critics across the political spectrum, especially on the populist left, as left-leaning think tanks and presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) question the legitimacy of both the public-private policy framework and the results it produces. The critics’ various indictments revolve around a number of misconceptions about how the U.S. system functions. This post debunks five of the most common myths.

Florida Higher Education- Is the Cheapest Fiscally Sound?

Florida Research Consortium and Florida Chamber Foundation
provides evidence for the connection between state funding for universities and productivity. Florida Research Consortium and Florida Chamber Foundation combine a variety of data to advance three connections: 1) state funding for universities is exponentially related to total funding for universities; 2) total funding for universities is related to research quality; and 3) research quality is related to productivity within Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Although the report should be read with caveats regarding causality and constructed indices, the evidence and argument are worth discussing with university research stakeholders.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Should Economic Development Focus on People or Places?

Aaron M. Renn, Governing
There’s a raging debate about whether the focus of economic development efforts should be on people or on places. That is, should policy makers make investments in people, hoping to see them succeed regardless of where they end up? Or should they focus on investments in particular cities, towns and rural areas in order to bring jobs and growth, thus helping the people who live there? This post examines the different dimensions of this debate.

Statistics & Indicators

The Top 25 Global Innovators: Government

Reuters News and Thompson Reuters IP & Science
Innovation is most often associated with manufacturing companies that produce widgets or products. But it’s not just the R&D centers of those large organizations that blaze the innovation trail. To the contrary, innovation happens in myriad places and by people with various roles and functions, including—and very importantly—by government organizations. To create the ranking of the world’s Top 25 Global Innovators—Government, Reuters News relied on data compiled by Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science via several of its research platforms: InCites, Web of Science, Derwent Innovations Index, Derwent World Patents Index and Patents Citation Index.

So You Think You Have an Innovation District?

Julie Wagner and Nathan Storring, The Brookings Institution
Less than two years ago, the Brookings Institution unveiled the research paper, “The Rise of Innovation Districts,” which identified an emerging spatial pattern in today’s innovation economy. Marked by a heightened clustering of anchor institutions, companies, and start-ups, innovation districts are emerging in central cities throughout the world. However, a Google search for the term reveals that policy makers have used it to refer to all kinds of development. The variation in understanding of the term and its application suggests the need for a routinized way to measure the essential quantitative and qualitative assets of innovation districts. Given this, for the past nine months the Brookings Institution, Project for Public Spaces (PPS), and Mass Economics have collaborated to devise and test an audit tool for assessing innovation districts. 

Policy Digest

Digital Talent: Road to 2020 and Beyond

Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)
This report contextualizes Canada’s digital landscape and labour market needs by 2020. It provides an in-depth strategy with practical recommendations that will build Canada’s digital talent base, for today and the future, in an increasingly global and digital landscape. Developed through extensive research, and consultations with industry, education and policy makers across Canada, the strategy targets all sectors that include ICT in their practices and depend on a strong tech-savvy workforce. With technology as the remedy for the opportunity divide and the source of empowering a high performing economy, the strategy outlines digital opportunities. Demographic shifts, global competition, evolving consumer habits and expectations, among many other factors, are transforming how businesses operate and how Canadians participate in public and civic life. A key to safeguarding Canada’s success is to ensure that there is skilled talent to drive innovation and competitiveness, as entrepreneurs or as part of the workforce. Implementing this strategy will contribute inherently to the promise of real change for Canadians. It will ensure that SMEs, the engine of our economy, and all Canadian businesses are well equipped to respond to a rapidly evolving global economy. Moreover, it will ensure that Canadians, particularly youth, will be well prepared to succeed as skilled workers and entrepreneurs in our increasingly digital and global economy. Making the right investments and policy choices has never been more critical for Canada.

A National Digital Talent Strategy

  1. Nurturing a Strong Youth Talent Pipeline: Enhancing youth engagement in STEM and ICT during their formative education years is critical to ensuring more youth stick with these fields. Tools and programs that support STEM teaching and integrate new ways of teaching and experiencing STEM and ICT will better prepare youth for studies and careers in these fields. Recommendations include making computer science mandatory in the K-12 curriculum in partnership with the federal government and private sector resources.
  2. Leveraging Canada’s Diverse Talent: Canada has a proud tradition of welcoming and celebrating diversity. A significant proportion of our population is made up of women, immigrants, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, and this is only expected to grow in the coming years. The diversity of our nation and talent is a source of strength. Diverse and inclusive businesses are more productive and innovative, translating into real and significant financial gains for businesses and the economy at large. As talent scarcity increases, leveraging Canada’s diverse talent pool will help ensure businesses have the skilled people they need to compete in the global digital economy.
  3. Support Workforce Upskilling to Enhance Digital Adoption: Continually upskilling the workforce to be in-tune with the latest technology advances is a must for businesses to remain competitive. ICTC asserts that every $100,000 of investment or tax incentive to train 10 mid-career ICT professionals on emerging technologies has the potential to contribute $2.1 million in output to Canada’s GDP. For continued workforce participation, employers must invest in and offer learning opportunities to their employees.
  4. Attracting and Retaining Global Digital Talent: As population growth continues to decline, domestic skilled talent will become increasingly scarce. Canada is not alone in this trend, with nations like Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom also experiencing talent shortages. The global talent scarcity will boost the importance of securing highly skilled international workers. Furthermore, open global economies, enabled by free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), increase talent mobility as companies expand into new markets and labour markets become further globalized. This new reality means that Canada must continue to recognize and welcome international talent to remain competitive and address the skills shortage in our digital economy.
  5. Strengthening Digital Literacy and Digital Skills for Canadians: Strong digital literacy for all citizens will enable people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to effectively and confidently navigate the increasingly digital world. It will also boost technology consumption, promoting growth and increasing demand for ICT goods. In turn, this has the potential to attract more digital entrepreneurs and companies to Canada, creating more jobs and overall prosperity for Canadians. Government, industry, and educators all have a role to play in enhancing Canadians’ digital literacy. Digital literacy for all citizens is a critical component to creating a competitive advantage for Canada in the global digital economy.
  6. Fostering Digital Entrepreneurship: The primary aim of nurturing Canada’s future entrepreneurial capacity is to create new industries, and spur growth in all sectors of the economy. Technological innovation has always been at the heart of this ecosystem, driving economic growth and social development. While Canada has a strong R&D capacity and entrepreneurial culture, we lag behind other advanced economies when it comes to translating these innovations into commercialized products and services. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Competitiveness Report, Canada is ranked 22nd in terms of innovation, despite large per-capita investments into R&D programs by the federal government. Part of the challenge is that the government funds more R&D than industry in Canada. This can create a gap between the research undertaken in public universities and the direct needs of industry, which is at the heart of the commercialization shortfall. Effective and successful innovation is a union of invention and commercialization. To achieve this government, academia and industry must collaborate and invest in the commercialization of technological innovations, which in turn will better prepare students for entrepreneurship or the workforce and will drive job creation and economic growth. 
  7. Building Labour Mobility Pathways to Fill High Demand Occupations: Smart and hyper-connected technologies are rapidly expanding while traditional economic powerhouses, like manufacturing and oil and gas, are declining. Significant numbers of workers from these declining areas are laid-off or displaced because of this economic situation. These displaced workers represent an untapped talent pool that could fill talent shortages in other sectors like ICT. While some displaced workers may have transferable skills from their previous roles that could be applicable in a new role, they do not have the technical skills required to enter the ICT industry. This does not mean we should reject them as a source of talent; instead, we need to build alternative career pathways, competency standards, and training supports to leverage this talent pool. Effectively and efficiently shifting displaced and transitioning workers into the digital economy will facilitate the rebalance of ICT labour supply and demand discrepancies and drive more growth in the Canadian economy.

The Canadian economy is rapidly becoming increasingly global and digital in nature. With its favourable political and business environment, in addition to a vibrant digital ecosystem, Canada is poised to become a leader in the global digital economy. However, talent shortages, skills gaps, and the slow pace of digital adoption must be overcome in order for Canada to achieve this vision.

This strategy puts forward a series of recommendations distilled from the many ideas and insights generously shared with the ICTC by members of industry, government and academia. It will require further iteration and work to implement, and above all, the cooperation and effort of the many stakeholders who contributed so generously to this work.

Adopting the recommendations outlined in the seven areas of the strategy will help Canada become a leader in the global digital economy. Charting a path forward, with milestones and timelines, will help ensure that Canada implements the strategy and its associated recommendations. Three taskforces have been established to guide the strategy, each with the responsibility of developing an action plan with critical milestones. To achieve the strategy, the seven areas highlighted in the strategy will be segmented into three areas that also form the taskforces: industry growth, education and skills, and diversity and inclusion. However, as with the strategy and its recommendations, in the end, all stakeholders — companies, industry associations/councils, all levels of government, educators, and individual citizens — have a role to play in ensuring the milestones and actions are achieved by 2020 and beyond. 


Regional Studies Association Annual Conference 2016 – Building Bridges: Cities and Regions in a Transnational World

Graz, Austria, 3-6 April, 2016
Throughout history, cities and regions have been cornerstones of economic, social and cultural institution building and centres of communication and trade across borders of empires and nations. In a globalized world dominated by multi-level governance and declining economic and political significance of the nation-state, cities and regions are becoming ever more so important in building bridges across nations, supra-national unions, and even continents. These challenges surpass the usual aspects of integration: it is not sufficient to reduce barriers for the mobility of labour, goods, services and capital, to create a homogeneous competitive environment, and a solid monetary system. What is needed in addition are more elements of a new regionalism, which is based on non-hierarchical relationships, on self-government, and on the creation of flexible alliances leading to inter-regional transnational cooperation. The development of a region is affected by its competitive and complementary relationships with other increasingly distant regions. These relationships have to be embedded in an overall structure of relations which encompass the purely economic ones and have strong social, cultural, legal and political dimensions. The objective of the conference is to initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue about the future of a transnational world of urban and regional cooperation. We welcome submissions from researchers, policy makers and practitioners working in all areas of regional analysis.

The 15th Annual RE$EARCH MONEY Conference – Reversing the Trend: Taking Canada’s Innovation Game to the Next Level

Ottawa, 5-6 April, 2016
The Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) lays out a bleak picture of Canada’s STI performance in its fourth biannual public report, State of the Nation Report 2014. One grave concern is Canada’s poor record of growing sustainable, large firms in knowledge-based industry sectors. The 15th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference will focus on how to fix Canada’s innovation problem. Innovation is a business strategy for identifying needs and selling products and services to meet those needs better than anyone else. Will the first budget of the new federal government provide any new thinking or investment that might reverse Canada’s decline in knowledge-based commerce? What are the key areas that governments must focus on in order to help companies scale and compete in global markets?

Urban Dialogues: Creating Inclusive Urban Space in Uncertain Global Times

Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 3-6 May, 2016
This workshop will explore the construction of inclusive urban spaces in uncertain global times. One of the major impacts of the global economic crisis is the way it has deepened inequalities at a time when the state’s capacity for public intervention to tackle inequality has diminished. These developments raise questions about what forms of governance step in when the state withdraws and how urban policy can be developed to reflect the interests of all. To address these issues further research is needed to evaluate the opportunities and challenges ahead. There is a need to reflect on the usefulness of previous urban development approaches and explore the potential for alternative structures in both established (UK) and emerging (Brazil) economies. This multi-disciplinary workshop will promote scientific excellence and international collaboration in the field of urban governance with a view to informing future policy in a way that will enrich the lives and well being of all those living in cities.

The Organization, Economics and Policy of Scientific Research

Torino, Italy, 9-10 May, 2016
The aim of the workshop is to bring together a small group of scholars interested in the analysis of the production and diffusion of scientific research from an economics, historical, organizational, and policy perspective. As in previous years, we aim to attract contributions from both junior and senior scholars; a minimum number of slots are reserved for junior researchers (PhD students or postdoc scholars who obtained their PhD in 2013 or later). Up to 18 papers will be selected from open submissions on the basis of peer review. The workshop aims at including papers form various streams of research developed in recent years in and around the area of public and private scientific research.

Regional Studies Association 2nd North American Conference: Cities and Regions: Managing Growth and Change

Atlanta, Georgia, 16-17 June, 2016 
In the wake of the global financial crisis, cities have searched for new policies and practices capable of addressing major shifts in socio-economic relations at the urban and regional scale. These divergent and differentiated efforts have led to the intensification of underlying problems in some cities and a return to growth in others. Regional policies, particularly in the North American context, responded to economic challenges by adopting new technologies and new institutional and organizational forms to manage growth and change at the city scale. The result is a complex and uneven landscape of public and private actors delivering financial services, scaling-up supply chains, coordinating firm networks, diffusing process and material innovations, and organizing new forms of civic representation and participation. This conference provides a platform for researchers to address the effects of these policy, organizational, and institutional innovations and their impact on work, identity, governance, production networks, infrastructure investments, technology diffusion, and ultimately place. The conference will focus on the policy implications of emerging forms of governance and policy delivery relative to uneven development and inequality in a post-crisis era of ongoing market liberalization, financialization, and global competition.

3rd International Workshop on the Sharing Economy

Southampton, England, 15-16 September, 2016
Enabled by digital platform technologies, the sharing economy allows households, individuals, businesses, government and non-government organisations to engage in collaborative production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. It can potentially lead to an increase in employment, economic efficiency, sustainable use of resources, broadened access to highly valuable assets, and enhanced social relationships. The sharing economy can also give rise to innovation driven business models appealing to a different group of customers, normally ignored by mainstream businesses, and based on a novel supply chain and operations model which makes it possible to outsource to platform users a significant portion of business functions. These inevitably challenge conventional business and policy thinking about the role and functions of customers, employees and the organization. To no small degree, the interest in the sharing economy is fueled by ongoing international media stories about the expansion of new and highly successful sharing economy platforms (such as Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, Blablacar, etc.). The academic debate is yet to fully catch up with this business media buzz. It has only now started to critically investigate the popular claims about the sharing economy. There is still very little systematic understanding of the antecedents of the sharing economy, its organizational forms and their novelty, the enabling and constraining factors of the sharing economy and its impacts. Hence, the purpose of this workshop is to engage with different strands of academic scholarship on the sharing economy originating across different disciplines (such as management and business studies, economics, geography, legal studies, sociology, political sciences and other disciplines) to help to develop an integrated understanding of the sharing economy phenomenon, its drivers, forms and implications for individuals, businesses and society.  

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