The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 340

News from the IPL


World Future Cities Summit

Toronto, June 9-10, 2016
The World Future Cities Summit is the leading event for communities, value-makers and network builders. It takes place June 9-10 at MaRS in Toronto. The i-CANADA New World Order is about learning from the best around the world – and becoming one of that elite circle of sustainable, thriving communities! Join industry experts, global thought leaders and your peers at the heart of smart community success for a unique opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insights.

DOE Requests Proposals for $70m Clean Manufacturing Institute, Announces Topic for Next Institute

SSTI Weekly Digest
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that they are seeking proposals for a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute, a part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The $70 million Modular Chemical Process Intensification Institute will focus on developing breakthrough technologies that increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes used across an array of U.S. industries. Examples could include ethylene for plastics and biofuels used in sustainable transportation, among others. Proposals for this institute, which will be the fourth within the NNMI led by the DOE, are due June 15. In addition to its request for proposals, the DOE also announced the topic of its fifth manufacturing institute: Reducing Embodied Energy and Emissions of Manufactured Materials.  More information on this institute, which will be focused on lowering energy use through the development of innovative recycling and remanufacturing technologies, will be announced by the end of May 2016.

Editor's Pick

Spaces to Think: Innovation Districts and the Changing Geography of London’s Knowledge Economy

Kat Hanna, Centre for London
London’s urban fabric has long been shaped by the city’s economic development. As we enter the age of the knowledge economy, we are seeing London’s spatial form change once more. Companies and institutions are revaluing proximity, authenticity and flexibility – and increasingly want places of dense urban space, a mixed urban fabric and buildings that can evolve. This has lead to the development of new innovation districts – clusters of cutting-edge anchor institutions and companies which connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. Where employment space is at a premium, and where universities and innovation clusters are located in some of London’s most deprived boroughs, innovation districts have the potential to provide space for London’s knowledge economy, while promoting inclusive economic growth. Spaces to Think examines how London’s existing universities, clusters and innovation districts are evolving and sets out recommendations on how they can be encouraged to grow.

Innovation Policy

The Rise of Knowledge Workers is Accelerating Despite the Threat of Automation

Josh Zumbrun, The Wall Street Journal
In the past three decades, the number of jobs for knowledge workers has never been rising as quickly as it is right now. As recently as the mid-1980s, you could categorize American workers into roughly three equal-sized groups of about 30 million people each. About 31 million people had nonroutine cognitive jobs, what is often called “knowledge work,” consisting of varied intellectual tasks such as professional, managerial or technical occupations. Just under 30 million people had jobs that consisted primarily of routine manual work—on assembly lines or in warehouses, doing physical tasks day after day. About 30 million people had jobs consisting of routine office work—bookkeepers, filing clerks,  bank tellers and so on—work that doesn’t involve much physical activity but is highly routine and doesn’t necessarily require high levels of knowledge. A fourth, smaller group, did nonroutine manual tasks, such as many service occupations. But over the past three decades, almost all job growth has come from the two categories of work that are nonroutine. Meanwhile, routine jobs have been under a lot of pressure,especially during periods of recession.

The Vital Importance of High Performance Computing to U.S. Competitiveness

Stephen Ezell and Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF
High-performance computing (HPC) refers to systems that, through a combination of processing capability and storage capacity, can rapidly solve complex computational problems across a diverse range of scientific, engineering, and industrial fields. High-performance computing has become indispensable for enterprises, scientific researchers, and government agencies to generate new discoveries and innovate breakthrough products and services. As such, HPC represents a strategic, game-changing technology with tremendous implications for economic competitiveness, scientific leadership, and national security. This report explains why adoption, use, and production of HPC technologies matters. For commercial industries, The report also explains why it is important that the United States remains a leader in the production of high-performance computing systems, explaining that: 1) it is critical for U.S. national security; 2) it would be risky to depend on foreign vendors for access to leading HPCs should they no longer be produced in the United States; 3) there is a symbiosis between HPC production and use, and U.S. industries and enterprises benefit through first-mover advantage by having quicker access and availability to leading-edge HPCs; and 4) HPCs represent an important source of exports, employment, and economic growth that the United States should compete vigorously to retain.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Defining the Record of High-Growth Firms by U.S. Metropolitan Region: What Happened to the Inc. 500

Murray Rice, et al. 
Development of an improved definition of the characteristics of business growth and change is an important need for the wide audience that is interested in economic development. This study devotes attention to the intersection of two areas of research interest: the development of firms, and the economic evolution of metropolitan regions. The analysis identifies businesses included in the Inc 500 annual ranking of the most rapidly-growing privately-held companies in the United States (high-growth firms, or “HGFs”) from the period 2000-2008. The study then consults prominent, national business databases to track the status of these HGFs individually and by metropolitan area in the years following their attainment of Inc 500 status. The research finds that HGFs have a low failure rate as a group, and that many have an extended (10 year) track record as independent businesses. The study also shows that HGF merger and acquisition activity varies greatly among U.S. metropolitan regions, with Boston and Austin leading all others as hosts to HGFs that became acquisition and merger targets. While high levels of acquisition and merger targeting might be viewed as a positive indicator of regional business creation, the results here suggest that acquisition and merger activity associated with Inc 500 firms has functioned to transfer business control out of originating HGF host regions. Lastly, the analysis shows a select set of metropolitan areas including Phoenix, Indianapolis, Washington DC, and Philadelphia lead all MSAs in generating HGFs with sustained, high growth rates. The paper argues these urban regions have potential to see further HGF-driven economic emergence, thus playing a role in shifting the U.S. corporate hierarchy.

The State of Entrepreneurship Education in Ontario’s Colleges and Universities

Creso Sa, Andrew Kretz, and Kristjan Sigurdson, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
The purpose of this study was to identify how entrepreneurship education is delivered in Ontario colleges and universities. In Ontario, as in the rest of Canada, the increase in the number of entrepreneurship courses at universities and colleges, and the concurrent popularization and maturation of entrepreneurship programming, contribute to fostering entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, and the creation of businesses. The overall aim of this report is to inform debate and decision-making on entrepreneurship education through a mapping and assessment of existing programs in the province.

Governing the Modern City

Kemal Davis and Bruce Katz, The Brookings Institution
Spend time in any city and you will quickly find that the understanding of how governance networks actually work, even at the highest levels, is opaque at best. Urban innovation won’t liberate us from fiscal constraints and debt burdens, and the flows of funding from national and regional governments to cities—for everything from education, to infrastructure, to social programs—remain difficult to map even for those leading city governments. And finances are only part of the story: in every policy arena, the reality of where and how decisions are made—and by whom—is of critical importance. Moreover, from a public policy perspective, it is of course necessary to assess the benefits of governance arrangements from a broad national perspective. Without a fundamentally stronger understanding of how governance relationships are structured and function, it is impossible to recommend solutions that will help them perform better. This is critical at a time when inequality among cities—even within the same country—is growing at a rate just as worrying as inequality within a particular urban economy. Further, the rapid growth of “megacities” in the developing world portends a looming governance crisis that will require proven and replicable solutions. This post outlines the focus of the Brookings Institution’s new Project on 21st Century City Governance.

Statistics & Indicators

 2016 Canada Private Equity and Venture Capital Breakdown: I

The 2016 Canada PE & VC Breakdown: I report, first of two Canadian publications this year, analyzes trends across private equity and venture capital investment in Canada, assessing how activity has shifted over the past years in terms of sector, size and more. While some datasets of Canadian activity reflect trends similar to what has been observed in other markets, there are some distinct departures that set it apart, such as the boom in VC invested in the first quarter of 2016. Accordingly, the report breaks down such outliers by providing contextual yearly and quarterly activity to better amplify your knowledge of the PE and VC landscape in Canada. In addition, the report delves into PE and VC-backed exits, as well as PE fundraising.

Policy Digest

Think Like an Enterprise: Why Nations Need Comprehensive Productivity Strategies

Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF
Productivity is the key to living standards, but few economists think governments can do much about it. They are wrong to be so skeptical. Policymakers can and must craft comprehensive national productivity strategies that go beyond the tired prescriptions of neoclassical economics to provide strong incentives for adopting new “tools”; spur use of systemic, platform technologies; expand productivity-focused R&D; and develop sector-specific productivity strategies that reflect major differences between industries.

Elements of National Productivity Strategies

  1. Incentives, including tax policies, to encourage organizations to adopt new tools to drive productivity. The array of market failures is considerable when it comes to firms developing and adopting better tools to drive productivity. In particular, governments should use the tax code to provide incentives for the acquisition of new capital equipment. 
  2. Policies to spur the advance and take-up of systemic, platform technologies that accelerate productivity across industries. Many of the information technologies central to driving productivity have chicken-or-egg network effects, which mean that adoption will lag unless governments adopt technology-specific policies.
  3. A research and development (R&D) strategy focused on spurring the development of productivity-enabling technologies such as robotics. The most important factor driving future productivity will be the development of better tools, including machines and materials. Governments need to focus a much larger share of their R&D budgets on advancing technologies that will reduce the need for labor.
  4. Sectoral productivity policies that reflect the unique differences between industries. In terms of productivity and productivity policy, industries differ in significant ways. Generic market condition or factor supply policies do not reflect these key differences. Any effective national productivity policy will need to have to be grounded in sector based productivity strategies.

Finally, for nations to put sophisticated productivity policies in place, the single most important step is to establish productivity as the principal economic policy goal, ahead of other factors such as stable prices or low employment. After that, nations need to establish the institutional capacity to conduct sophisticated productivity analysis, including sectoral analysis. Only after such analysis will nations be positioned to identify the right policies for productivity growth. Without a sophisticated understanding and approach to productivity policy, nations’ productivity performance will lag behind their potential. It is impossible to estimate the potential productivity gains that nations can achieve by putting in place sophisticated and comprehensive productivity policies as described in this report, but it is entirely reasonable to believe that the gains could be significant. In fact, if the United States and other developed nations were to adopt these policies, it is quite possible they could raise their annual labor productivity growth rates by 1 percent or more. The gains for less-developed nations, which are further from their production-possibility frontiers, are likely to be at least double that.


World Future Cities Summit

Toronto, June 9-10, 2016
The World Future Cities Summit is the leading event for communities, value-makers and network builders. It takes place June 9-10 at MaRS in Toronto. The i-CANADA New World Order is about learning from the best around the world – and becoming one of that elite circle of sustainable, thriving communities! Join industry experts, global thought leaders and your peers at the heart of smart community success for a unique opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insights.

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.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Changing Patterns of Territorial Policy: Smart Specialization and Innovation in Europe

Seville, Spain, 29 – 30 September, 2016
The smart specialization approach is characterized by the identification of strategic areas for intervention based both on the analysis of the strengths and potential of the economy and on a process of entrepreneurial discovery with wide stakeholder involvement. It embraces a wide view of innovation that goes beyond research-oriented and technology-based activities, and requires a sound logic of intervention supported by effective monitoring mechanisms. This conference aims to take stock of the smart specialization experience and assess its current state of the art both in terms of conceptual developments and practical implementation. It offers to a limited number of participants from academia, European Institutions and territorial authorities, a unique opportunity to discuss these issues, to define the scope and main avenues for future research and policy analysis, and to address the challenges confronting policy makers and practitioners. The conference organizers are keen to attract papers that address the whole spectrum of topics, disciplines, and methodologies encompassed by the smart specialization approach, including contributions from all areas of regional analysis with a link to smart specialization.

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.