The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 341

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 Announces Intent to Fund New NNMI, Clean Tech Manufacturing Pilot Program

SSTI Weekly Digest
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released a notice of intent to establish and sustain a Clean Energy
Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in materials manufacturing. The $70 million funding opportunity will be released in June to enable the development and widespread deployment of key industrial platform technologies that will dramatically reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing through the development of technologies for reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials. Earlier this month, EERE also announced a new pilot program in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in four states – Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia – to provide small businesses with better access to resources.

Alberta Government Moving Forward on Research and Innovation

Government of Alberta
Bill 11 proposes to merge four existing Alberta Innovates corporations into one. This leaner entity would build on the strengths of each corporation while enabling a stronger, more responsive research and innovation system. This change would make it easier for Alberta companies, innovators and researchers to get opportunities and develop connections across the province and beyond. Under a single board and CEO, the corporation would focus on Alberta’s strengths in health, environment, energy, food, fibre and emerging technologies. This model is based on several reviews and expert reports on the system. The single corporation is expected to save Alberta taxpayers approximately $2 million annually through streamlined governance.

UK to Merge Research and Innovation in a Single Agency with a £6 billion budget

The UK government is to create a single research funding body, bringing together seven research councils, the innovation agency Innovate UK and research funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The new body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will command a £6 billion budget. The aim is to make it easier to fund cross-disciplinary studies and create an integrated research and innovation system. UKRI is supposed to ensure greater co-ordination on science investment and greater engagement from politicians. However, there is some concern its organisation will give politicians too much influence over research priorities. 

Editor's Pick

Mid-Decade Big-City Growth Continues

William Frey, The Brookings Institution
Big-city populations are still growing, according to new mid-decade Census Bureau statistics. That is, between 2010 and 2015, the annual growth rates of cities with over half a million people were double the average annual rate between 2000 and 2010; and the combined urban cores of the nation’s major metropolitan areas continue to grow at faster rates than their surrounding suburbs. Both of these national trends counter pre-2010 patterns, providing further evidence that 2010 to 2020 could be the “decade of the city”. Yet the new data highlight some changes in city and suburb growth, in conjunction with broader Snow-Belt to Sun Belt population shifts, which somewhat alter that earlier picture. This post parses the latest data and provides some insight into its implications for the growth of U.S. metro regions.

Innovation Policy

Technology Collaboration Programmes: Highlights and Outcomes

Accelerating energy technology innovation is crucial to meet energy and climate goals, to support economic growth and to enhance energy security. Successful development and deployment of innovative energy technologies requires that stakeholders from both the public and private sector share knowledge, work collaboratively and, where appropriate, pool resources to deliver integrated, cost effective solutions to common challenges. Four decades ago, the founders of the IEA had the foresight to create a multilateral technology collaboration mechanism. The year 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the mechanism as well as the rebranding of the IAs as Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). This publication provides an overview of the activities and recent accomplishments of TCPs. The 39 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in 51 countries around the world. Participants in TCPs have examined more than 1 900 energy-related topics in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, fossil fuels, fusion power and cross-cutting issues.

A Policymaker’s Guide to Digital Infrastructure

Robert D. Atkinson, Daniel Castro, Stephen Ezell, Alan McQuinn, and Joshua New, ITIF
Infrastructure has always been important to nations’ economic growth and success, but the infrastructure needed for today’s economy is rapidly changing with advances in information and communications technology (ICT). This new infrastructure—some of it hybrid infrastructure that integrates both physical and digital aspects, some of it pure digital infrastructure—is critical to delivering the next wave of innovation and economic growth to all but the very poorest of nations. Some have argued that there is little innovation in infrastructure because—just like 50 or even 100 years ago—cars still drive on roads; planes fly in the air; and trains run on tracks. But while there may be innovations in physical infrastructures (e.g., self-healing concrete), many of today’s opportunities for improvement depend on embedding digital technologies in physical infrastructures. Successfully building out digital infrastructure (hybrid and purely digital) across all types of infrastructure will unlock new economic opportunities, job creation, and better quality of life.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

World Cities Report 2016

UN Habitat
The analysis of urban development of the past twenty years presented in this maiden edition of the World Cities Report shows, with compelling evidence, that there are new forms of collaboration and cooperation, planning, governance, finance and learning that can sustain positive change. The Report unequivocally demonstrates that the current urbanization model is unsustainable in many respects. It conveys a clear message that the pattern of urbanization needs to change in order to better respond to the challenges of our time, to address issues such as inequality, climate change, informality, insecurity, and the unsustainable forms of urban expansion.

A Metro Map of Inclusive Economies

Alan Berube, Nick Marchio, Jonathan Ng, and Richard Shearer, The Brookings Institution
Brookings has introduced a new framework for understanding whether an economy is inclusive—that is, whether it expands opportunities for broadly shared prosperity—and described an initial effort to test that framework with data for U.S. metropolitan areas. Using over 100 indicators, it visualizes how the 100 largest metropolitan areas stacked up on five characteristics of inclusive economies the Foundation has identified: equity, participation, growth, sustainability, and stability. Some metro areas did much better than others on achieving inclusive economic outcomes. Yet every metro area could improve its performance. Identifying which metro areas are similar to one another on these outcomes could help policy makers understand not only why places perform like they do, but also how to develop common strategies for enhancing local prosperity. In this post the authors used advanced statistical techniques to generate “clusters” of metro areas based on their inclusive economy characteristics, as well as their size and wealth. Ultimately, the approach classified the 100 metro areas into 16 distinct clusters, shown on the linked map.

Statistics & Indicators

OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2016

This publication presents a comprehensive overview of recent and longer term trends in productivity levels and growth in OECD and some G20 countries. The statistics include measures of labour, capital and multifactor productivity, as well as indicators of international competitiveness.

Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship 2016

Arnobio Morelix, E.J. Reedy, and Joshua Russell, Kauffman Foundation
The Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship is an indicator of business growth in the United States, integrating several high-quality sources of timely information into one composite indicator of entrepreneurial business growth. The Index captures growth entrepreneurship in all industries, and is based on data covering the universe of all U.S. employer businesses (approximately 5 million firms) and a privately collected benchmark of growth businesses. This report measures business growth from both revenue and job growth perspectives. Moreover, it also present trends on business exits—more particularly initial public offerings, a business milestone commonly associated with innovative, high-growth companies. This report presents trends in growth entrepreneurship over the last decade for the United States. Trends in growth entrepreneurship also are reported at the national level for specific industries for some of the Index components, when available. Additional Growth Entrepreneurship Indices present trends for all fifty states and the forty largest U.S metropolitan areas by population. 

2016 Urban Governance Survey

LSE Cities, UN Habitat, and UCLG
The 2016 edition of the Urban Governance Survey undertaken by LSE Cities in partnership with UN Habitat and UCLG (Decentralisation and Local Governance Committee), and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, has been launched today. The renovated website displays data from 104 cities spanning five continents, with new survey questions, and is now available in English, Spanish and French. A key element of LSE Cities’ New Urban Governance project, the new online platform presents both the results of the survey and contains more in-depth analysis of existing institutional arrangements and governance challenges faced by cities around the world. It seeks to both address the data challenges confronting research on urban governance, while providing an accessible and detailed resource for the wider public.

Policy Digest

Infographic: FinTech Digitally Disrupting the Financial World
The financial services industry is evolving at a rapid pace, introducing new and efficient technology, the kind of which we haven’t experienced since ATMs, index mutual funds, and discount brokers first burst on to the scene when everyone was still wearing flares. While some people are bringing flares back, we’re witnessing true innovation with the advent of the blockchain and peer 2 peer financial platforms, mobile wallets and payment processing, and the overall shift towards doing everything quickly and efficiently online, with less fees and interference from large institutions. Everything from banks, to retailers and individuals are being impacted, and those that don’t jump on the bandwagon will be left behind by the financial technology revolution. Long running retail banks are being challenged by online ­only startup banks. Traditional lenders are being overlooked for p2p marketplaces where the people borrow from the people. And portfolio management and financial advice is being replaced with apps and so called robo­advisors. This has all understandably brought about huge growth in fintech investment, as startups disrupt the old guard and the old guard themselves desperately try to reposition themselves to survive the transition. There is currently $25.8 billion in total funding making its way through the industry. The linked infographic provides some key information about how fintech is disrupting the financial world. A brief summary of some of its contents is below

Fintech Means Innovation

A new infographic compiled by takes a closer look at the entire fintech landscape and how it is ‘digitally disrupting’ the financial world, revealing some pretty interesting facts along the way.

Perhaps one of the most obvious (though still most important) is that the evolution of fintech is very much driven by consumers. Simply put, new tech is making the average person’s life. For example survey data reveals that 43.4 percent of those who have adopted modern fintech solutions, do so because it is so easy to get started. You just enter an email address or you download an app, and everything you need is right there. Long gone are the days of standing in a line at the bank and filling out reams of paperwork to access a financial service.

15.4 percent switched to modern fintech because of more attractive rates and fees. It’s a no-brainer that if something is cheaper people will flock to it. And this isn’t just true for consumers. Retailers for example are now more than happy to accept payment in cryptocurrency Bitcoin because the cost to process the payment through services like Bitpay is actually less than the 3% transaction fee for a credit card. This is just one of many examples of how new technology is allowing people to do business and save money.

12.4 percent of fintech users say they like the wide access to different products and services. In the past certain products and services were confusing and expensive for the average person to explore. Today anyone with a mobile device can manage their assets, lend & borrow, invest, and play the markets, while getting high quality and information and the swipe of a screen.

The crux of innovation is doing better than established solutions. This is exactly what we’re witnessing.

5 Fascinating Fintech Facts

But what else is happening in the world of fintech? Here are 5 fascinating facts that you might not have known:

  1. The highest valued fintech startup is Chinese. Peer to Peer lending platform LUFAX is currently valued at $10 billion and is changing the way people invest and borrow in the most populous nation in the world. That’s obviously big business! It’s also a sign to the rest of the world that the once tightly controlled country is becoming more free and therefore more of a direct competitor in the free market. 
  2. Around half of all banks have or will be opening technical innovation activities over the next 2 years, to try and remain relevant during the fintech revolution. Whether it’s analytics, lending platforms, payment processing, money transferring, or handling cryptocurrencies, they are all slowly adoption a “can’t beat them join them” mentality in order maintain their power and control over the world’s economy. HSBC for example has invested $200 million in tech startups to help make sure they keep their technology up to date. Whether it’s too late or they are just not equipped to adapt, is something we’ll understand better as we head to 2020.
  3. Algorithms are replacing humans. We’ve all heard about how technology puts workers out of jobs through automation. This is commonly demonstrated by the rise of self-service checkout machines in supermarkets. But did anyone really expect computer algorithms to replace human financial advisors? Robo-advisors are now all the rage with the first generation of wealth management apps. You can organize your whole financial portfolio and get investment tips and important alerts based on the raw data instead of a suit’s interpretation of it. Apps will also help you manage your bills and tell when it’s time to switch to a new provider to save money.
  4. Governments are in on the action. Any competent government will realize that courting fintech startups will help keep their economies prosperous. That’s why the UK government have launched numerous tax incentives and benefits to new businesses in the industry. They are also pumping millions in to cyber security to ensure it is safe for fintech to evolve on its shores. Likewise in the past year the US government has tripled investment in accelerators and incubators to allow their already dominant fintech industry to continue to flourish.
  5. Lending is the most heavily invested segment of fintech, followed by payment processing. In short, people want to be able to borrow, and send and receive money in the fastest and most efficient way possible. This is being accomplished with simple app based platforms.


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.

Schumpeter Conference on Evolutionary Economics

Montreal, 6-8 July, 2016
The Schumpeter Conference is a major event for social scientists interested in Neo-Schumpeterian themes such as the economics of innovation and economic development and trying to build a credible response to neoclassical economics with the contribution of different compatible theoretical currents such as behavioural, ecological and post-Keynesian economics, system dynamics, agent-based models and innovation management, among others.

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.

5th European Colloquium on Culture, Creativity, and Economy

Seville, Spain, 6-8 October, 2016
In recent years, myriad links between culture, creativity and economic practice have become major topics of interdisciplinary debates. There is a growing consensus that the intersections between these spheres, and symbolic and culturally embedded values in particular, pervade the global economy. Culture is not confined to artistic practice or heritage, nor is creativity confined to networks of creative workers and entrepreneurs: culture and creativity are practiced by workers and individuals in a range of occupational, institutional and geographical settings. Indeed, far from being restricted to global cities and urban settings, a growing body of research highlights the presence and uniqueness of cultural and creative activities in suburban and rural settings and across the Global South. Moreover, digital technologies and processes of globalization continue to create, destroy and restructure the markets and conditions under which cultural production, intermediation and consumption are undertaken and experienced. These are in turn underpinned by a plurality of micro-spatialities and micro-processes through which the dynamics and spaces of culture and creativity emerge. Together, this underlines the importance of paying critical academic attention to the particularities of the different social, political, technological and cultural models that enable, hinder or displace the creative and cultural economy. For research and policy, there is a strong need to generate nuanced and tempered accounts which understand both the potentialities and limitations involved in the intersections of culture, creativity and economy. There is a need to pursue new research avenues that not only encompass but go beyond critical engagement with policies. For example, a “critical agenda on critical approaches” might unveil significant aporias and pitfalls in the ways we study the webs that tie culture, creativity and economy together. More than ever perhaps there is a need for critical and radical academic debate that addresses questions about the value and values inherent in culture and creativity; questions surrounding the ownership and marketization of culture and creativity; and the dynamics of cultural and creative spaces, production and work.

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.