The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 339

News from the IPL


Comment on Ontario’s Draft Cultural Strategy

Government of Ontario
The province is developing a Culture Strategy which will set a vision for arts and culture, define priorities and guide support for the sector in the years to come. You can participate in the next stage of consultation and provide feedback on the core elements of the draft Culture Strategy until May 13, 2016. This is part of our Open Government commitment to engage citizens and gather public input. The draft Culture Strategy includes the following core elements: a vision statement and guiding principles for arts and culture in Ontario, along with our goals, strategies, actions and expected results.

Alberta Announces New Investor Tax Credit

SSTI Weekly Digest
Earlier this month, Alberta announced that it would be cancelling a job creation grant program that it had introduced in last October’s budget after receiving negative feedback from the business community. Under that cancelled program, Alberta planned to spend $178 million over two years by providing businesses and nonprofits up to $5,000 for each new employee with a cap of $500,000 per qualifying employer. In lieu of this plan, the province announced a suite of services that the administration hopes are more responsive to the current economy as part of the 2016 Alberta Jobs Plan. Faced with rising unemployment as a result of volatility in the oil and gas industry, Alberta’s provincial government made industry diversification a pivotal part of the plan. In an attempt to support its non-traditional industry sectors, the province announced the Alberta Investor Tax Credit. Beginning in January 2017, the program would provide a 30 percent tax credit to investors providing capital to small- and medium-sized Alberta businesses in information technology, clean technology, health technology, interactive digital media and game products, and post-production, visual effects and digital animation. The tax credit program would be funded at $90 million over two years. The province also announced that they would allocate $10 million in new funding for Alberta Innovates, which operates business incubators that seek to encourage entrepreneurship and job growth. Alberta Innovates was created in the April 2016 budget and is a consolidation of four previously separate agencies: Bio Solutions; Energy and Environment Solutions; Health Solutions; and, Technology Futures agencies.

DOE Announces over $100m to Improve Clean Energy Manufacturing

SSTI Weekly Digest
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released a notice of intent to establish a Modular Chemical Process Intensification Institute for Clean Energy Manufacturing –the fourth National Manufacturing Innovation Institute sponsored by the Department of Energy. EERE will commit up to $70 million to spur innovation related to clean energy technologies that reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive and energy-related manufacturing.  EERE plans to issue the federal funding announcement in May. At that time, EERE will outline the final eligibility requirements, potential funding commitment, and other key details.  EERE also announced the availability of approximately $35 million in funding to institutions of higher education to assist small- and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers increase energy efficiency, productivity, sustainability, and competitiveness as well as help address the shortage of engineering professionals with applied energy-related skills.

Editor's Pick

PRESENTATIONS: Creating Digital Opportunity Third Annual Meeting
April 25-27, 2016

The Creating Digital Opportunity Research Partnership is studying Canada’s strengths in current and emerging digital sectors, by examining the place of Canadian corporations, products and services in global production networks. It is also examining how individual regions and locales can invest in the appropriate skills and infrastructure and design appropriate policies to attract outside firms and assists local ones to participate in these networks as well as build upon existing expertise and success across sectors. At the same time, the project is investigating the extent to which digital technologies are transforming a wide range of other sectors—from advanced manufacturing to natural resources and business services—all of which are crucial for the future competitiveness of the Canadian economy and, in the process, are creating new policy and regulatory challenges that governments at all three levels much respond to. The papers and presentations from the Third Annual Meeting, held at the University of Saskatchewan, are now available online.

Innovation Policy

An OECD Horizon Scan of Megetrends and Technology Trends in the Context of Future Research Policy

Analysis of future trends, whether derived from extrapolations, simulations, projections or scenarios, can provide important insights for the future. They can offer support and guidance for decision makers and investors, and alert policy makers, the business community, researchers and society more generally to important upcoming issues. Interpretation of future trends, however, always needs to be done with care: they do not foretell the future, they merely indicate how the future might evolve under certain conditions and in a given subject area. A somewhat fuller picture of possible futures can be assembled by bringing together numerous trends from different subject areas. This can strengthen the basis for developing narratives or storylines, which in turn can enrich our view of where the world is heading and what challenges and opportunities may lie on or beyond the longer-term horizon. The purpose of this brochure is to provide scene-setting and food for thought in support of the RESEARCH2025 process being launched in February 2016 by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI). 

Scale-Up UK: Growing Business, Growing our Economy

University of Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Oxford Said Business School, and Barclays
Over the last two decades the UK has made great advances in developing a vibrant entrepreneurial sector. Start-up rates have increased dramatically, early stage capital is more plentiful, and the London-Oxford-Cambridge triangle is a globally recognized hub for entrepreneurial activity. Yet, the UK start-up revolution has largely occurred on the ‘input’ side: more start-ups and more early-stage investments. There is a growing concern about the ‘output’ side: Where are the big success stories? Where is the economic impact in terms of employment and economic growth? Since 2012, an estimated 600,000 new UK company registrations were reported, resulting in 3.3m active businesses in 2015. However, although there has been an increase in entrepreneurial activity in the UK, there is a concern with the growth performance of these new companies. The 2014 Coutu scale-up report on UK economic growth argues that there are too few high-growth companies in the UK. Drawing on a long pedigree in addressing the topic of company growth, Barclays launched the “Scale-up UK” initiative in 2015, with the intention of contributing new insights and policy recommendations for the scale-up challenge of the UK economy. 

New Institutional Geographies of Higher Education: The Rise of Transregional University Alliances

John Harrison, Darren P. Smith, and Chloe Klinton, Loughborough University
This paper opens up debates about the deepening uneven geographies of higher education through a critical analysis of transregional university alliances. Focusing on the formation of research consortia and Doctoral Training Centres it reveals the emergence of over fifty transregional alliances between UK universities. Despite each consortium operating at a variously defined regional scale there has been no explicit attempt to account for their geographical basis. Providing the first-ever analysis of this unfolding phenomenon, the authors demonstrate how the rise of transregional alliances is indicative of, and a response to, universities operating in an intensely neoliberalized political economy. Bringing together emergent theories of regionalism with emerging worlds of (neoliberal) higher education, the paper reveals how, why and where universities are engaging in more intensively targeted, exclusive approaches to regional development. It argues that higher education is conducive to the weakening of fixed regional territories and propose the metaphor of ‘regional constellations’ for interpreting transregional geographies. Finally, the analysis suggests that while high-performing research institutions may compete better by forming consortia, transregional alliances lead to a more unequal and divided university sector.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Regional Alignment, Not Competition: How Greater Milwaukee is Remaking Economic Development

Amy Liu, The Brookings Institution
This post details some recent initiatives for regional economic development implemented in the Greater Milwaukee area. To build trust, this city and its counties adopted a code-of-ethics to not steal each other’s jobs and coordinate instead on economic opportunities. They forged a common agenda. The central city then developed its own economic plan explicitly designed to reinforce the region’s economic ambitions. The initiative, dubbed the Milwaukee 7, an economic development organization representing seven counties in southeastern Wisconsin, also developed a metropolitan business plan that focuses on stimulating three industry clusters: water technology; energy, power, and controls manufacturing; and food an beverage. Milwaukee is smartly positioning itself as the place to provide firms and industries with new technologies to manage the costs, supply, and quality of water and energy use while being environmentally responsible.

Statistics & Indicators

Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2016: An OECD Scorecard

This report monitors SME and entrepreneur access to finance in 37 countries. It includes indicators of debt, equity, asset-based finance and framework conditions for SME and entrepreneurship finance, complemented by an overview of recent developments in public and private initiatives to support SME finance. Taken together, these indicators form a comprehensive framework for policy makers and other stakeholders to evaluate the financing needs of SMEs.

Creative Economy Employment in the US, Canada, and the UK: A Comparative Analysis

This report is part of Nesta’s ongoing research programme to better understand the size, growth and industrial/occupational structure of the creative economy, in the UK and internationally. The creative economy is defined as employment in the creative industries (both in creative jobs and in other roles), plus employment in creative jobs outside the creative industries. The current report makes two contributions. First, it compares the size, growth and geography of employment in the UK and US creative economies between 2011 and 2013, and provide comparable figures for size of employment in the Canadian creative economy in 2011. Second, it explores the differences in structure between the creative industries of the UK, the US and Canada by comparing the distribution of creative intensity across industries in the different countries. 

Policy Digest

Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge

Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)
In the 21st century economy, Ontario’s continued growth and prosperity depends on its capacity to innovate and translate these new ideas into real economic gains. To do so, it must create an environment that lets its most promising firms thrive. To spur the creation of new and innovative companies, governments, institutions, and the business community have done much to build up and tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Ontarians. However, too few entrepreneurs are continuing to build their business, or “scale up”, in Ontario. As such, the province is foregoing many of the economic benefits that could be provided by this untapped growth potential. In this report the OCC explores the issue of scaling up in the Ontario context. To do so, it draws on interviews with nearly two dozen business owners, sector associations, and other organizations, as well as a survey of over 350 Ontario business owners. As the report reveals, businesses in the province are facing a number of barriers that are preventing them from “scaling up” in Ontario. These include a labour pool that lacks scaling experience, insufficient access to financing, and misaligned public supports and incentives. The recommendations contained in this report are designed to break down these barriers and enable the province’s businesses to attain their full growth potential.

Summary of Recommendations

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges the Government of Ontario to:

  1. Improve access to talent by working with the federal government to create a scale-up visa to accelerate access to qualified international candidates;
  2. Improve access to financing by first gaining a better understanding of existing gaps;
  3. Ensure public programs and incentives are aligned to encourage businesses to scale up by: a. Focusing supports on high-growth firms and those with high-growth potential b. Delaying taxation on corporate income growth;
  4. Encourage greater international trade activity by: a. Increasing support for businesses seeking to engage in international trade b. Linking more business support programs to international trade;
  5. Improve access to anchor customers by: a. Leveraging public procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses b. As a business community, viewing partnerships with Ontario’s small and growing firms as competitive business development opportunities;
  6. Enable accurate measurement of the scale up challenge and monitoring of public policy responses by working with Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data.


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.  

OECD Blue Sky Forum on Science and Technology Indicators

Ghent, Belgium, 19-21 September, 2016
Every ten years the OECD Blue Sky Forum engages the policy community, data users and providers into an open dialogue to review and develop its long-term agenda on science, technology and innovation (STI) data and indicators. This event is known as the “OECD Blue Sky Forum”, an open and unconstrained discussion on evidence gaps in science and innovation and on initiatives the international community can take to address data needs in this area.

Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2016 – New Pressures on Cities and Regions

London, UK, 24-25 November, 2016
This conference provides an intellectual and policy-relevant platform for scholars around the world to address the new and emerging challenges facing cities and regions. The global economic slowdown poses major concerns to many territories – through shortfalls in employment, household incomes, corporate profitability and tax revenues. The steel industry has been one of the hardest hit, forcing massive plant closures and redundancies from China to the UK. Austerity in public finances threatens the infrastructure required to lay the foundation for future growth and development. Economic uncertainties and uneven development also contribute to growing social unrest and new waves of international migration. Heightened regulation of the banks and other financial institutions is bound to have an impact on the funding of house-building and other real estate development, with uncertain consequences. Meanwhile the accelerating pace of technological change in many industries and occupations means different skills and capabilities are required of the workforce, causing painful adjustments for many communities. And looming concerns about climate change and accelerating environmental degradation complicate the task of urban and regional revitalization. The 2016 Winter Conference of the Regional Studies Association presents a timely opportunity to discuss these issues, to clarify the research imperatives, and to consider the challenges facing policymakers and practitioners. The conference organizers are keen to attract papers and sessions that address a broad research and policy agenda, including contributions from any discipline which can offer relevant insights into the urban-regional-global nexus.

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