The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 342

News from the IPL


RE$EARCH MONEY Conference Flash Sale

Registration for the upcoming conference Future Finance and Social Innovation: Don’t miss out – register now! There are also 20 spots available for students and young entrepreneurs for only $10 (+tax). The spots will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. Register using the discount code STUDENT20.

Future Finance is being held 29-30 June at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. This summit will look at the intersection of impact investing, social entrepreneurship and FinTech, with a special focus on the upcoming $60 trillion wealth transfer from baby boomers to women, gen X and millennials. The conference is hosted by RE$EARCH MONEY in partnership with the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing.

Ontario Invests $50M in World-Leading Physics Research 

Government of Ontario
Ontario is strengthening its partnership with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to support cutting-edge research that will build on Ontario’s strengths as a hub of the knowledge economy, continue to attract world-leading talent to the province and increase Ontario’s competitiveness on the global stage. Premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced an investment of $50 million over five years in the Perimeter Institute. This investment, through the Business Growth Initiative, will help leading physicists accelerate their pursuit of scientific breakthroughs in areas such as cosmology, condensed matter and quantum information that are predicted to advance the ways we compute, communicate and live.

Editor's Pick

Positioning Canada to Lead: An Inclusive Innovation Agenda

Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada
In an era of fast and profound change, Canadians need to be adaptable and resilient so that they can spot the opportunities to create jobs, drive growth across all industries and improve lives. The country is at its most prosperous when everyone has a fair chance at success. Innovation is the path to inclusive growth. It fosters a thriving middle class and opens the country to new economic, social and environmental possibilities. It is essential in shaping our future. That’s why Canada needs an inclusive plan to foster a confident nation of innovators—one that is globally competitive in promoting research, translating ideas into new products and services, accelerating business growth and propelling entrepreneurs from the start-up phase to international success. The way forward is to act on a bold new vision: to build Canada as a global centre for innovation.

Innovation Policy

Canada’s Innovation Conundrum: Five Years After the Jenkins Report

Andrei Sulzenko, IRPP
Most Jenkins Report recommendations have been at least partially implemented — and they may be helping at the margin — but this report argues that our current policy approach is failing to stimulate widespread innovation-driven business strategies in Canada. This is because we have been dealing primarily with the symptoms rather than the causes of Canada’s underachievement. Weak business R&D is best understood as the outcome of our current “low-innovation equilibrium.” Paradoxically, this outcome has often been aided by the very microeconomic policies that have been purported to nurture Canadian business development, including those related to taxation, competition, trade and investment. The lack of serious, sustained competitive pressures in many key sectors of the Canadian economy has made it rational for businesses to underinvest in a range of riskier innovation activities, including R&D. After having largely exhausted 40 years of gains derived from labour market growth, Canada-US economic integration and resource rents, maintaining the status quo is no longer viable. The increasingly competitive global marketplace — with the potential for a “fourth industrial revolution” — may soon overwhelm Canada’s comfortable equilibrium at a time when innovation-driven productivity improvements are the best, sustainable source of future growth. In these circumstances, the government’s desire to underpin Canada’s future economic performance with a renewed innovation agenda is undoubtedly the right policy inclination. But to be successful, this agenda must go beyond the traditional focus on R&D. It requires a smart combination of microeconomic carrots and sticks to create a more comprehensive, pro-innovation business climate in Canada.

Restoring Investment in America’s Economy

Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) was founded in 2006. Looking back on the intervening decade, we have seen, in essence, a “tale of two cities”—dramatic progress in scientific and technological innovation, yet anemic productivity growth. This represents one of the most important challenges that policymakers must address in the years ahead, because productivity is a sine qua non for improving people’s living standards. How can we jumpstart productivity? Part of the answer is by spurring public and private investment in the underpinnings of the modern economy. ITIF will mark its 10-year anniversary with a half-day conference on June 14, 2016 devoted to this critical issue. The purpose of this report is to help frame the discussion.

The Internet of Things: Seizing the Benefits and Addressing the Challenges

The Internet of Things represents the next step in convergence between ICTs and the economy on an unprecedented scale, with estimates indicating that 25 billion devices will be connected by 2020. Network connectivity, widespread sensor placement and sophisticated data analytics enable applications to aggregate and act on large amounts of data generated by devices in homes, work places and the natural world. This aggregated data can drive innovation, research and marketing, holding the promise to substantially contribute to further economic growth and social prosperity. However, the degree of adoption and ability to reap its benefits will largely depend on the capacity of governments to create adequate policy and regulatory frameworks in key areas including telecommunications, security, privacy and consumer policy. This report provides information on the opportunities and challenges around the Internet of Things and identifies areas for engagement and ease of deployment by all stakeholders.

The Value of Bioscience Innovation in Growing Jobs and Improving Quality of Life

As an innovative industry and national economic driver, the biosciences have shown both impressive strength and resilience over the last decade and a half. The industry, spanning five major subsectors with varied activities but common underlying technology, grew at a steep rate through the early and mid-2000s before seeing a modest employment decline during the deep national recession when the overall private sector plunged and most industries fared much worse. The view from the other side of this challenging period reveals an industry back on track, recovering the lost jobs from the recession and each subsector contributing to job growth. It is the innovative nature of the biosciences that has allowed it to be so resilient, and why so many nations, states, and regions, are pursuing the industry as a driver of economic growth and innovative solutions to today’s global challenges.

Disruptive, Game-Changing Innovation: 2016 State of Innovation

Thompson Reuters
Collaboration is a term used to represent the elegant convergence of collaboration, innovation, cultivation, cross-pollination and calibration, swirled into the powerful process of bringing inventions to life with strategic partners and suppliers. Collaboration is happening between corporations and universities. Government agencies and research centers. Start-ups and bellwethers. Physical and mental boundaries are being lifted. Like-minded, similar-goaled organizations are finding each other. A web of information is aligning partners and best practices in an effort to collaboratively innovate. This report showcases some of these instances, as well as uncovers key innovation trends for 2016. Examination of global patent activity provides a glimpse into what’s hot, what’s not, what’s coming next, who leads and which regions are the most active.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Toronto is Poised to be the Next Great Producer of Tech Startups

Josh Guttman, Tech Crunch
Toronto has all the markings  of a world-class hub for technology startups. The author argues that Toronto is on the verge of tech greatness for a couple of reasons, including: its creative engineering-focused talent pool; a supportive local government; affordable healthcare; a vibrant and growing city center; and, delightfully efficient transport (among others). 

Statistics & Indicators

OECD Economic Surveys: European Union 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the European Union examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapter cover: Priorities for completing the Single Market.

The 2016 Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship

The Kauffman Foundation
The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship series offers in-depth measures of the people and businesses that contribute to America’s overall economic dynamism. The series consists of reports and accompanying interactive data visualizations presenting entrepreneurial trends nationally, at the state level, and for the 40 largest metropolitan areas.

Policy Digest

The Federal Big Data Research and Development Strategic Plan

The White House
The Federal Big Data Research and Development Strategic Plan (Plan) builds upon the promise and excitement of the myriad applications enabled by Big Data with the objective of guiding Federal agencies as they develop and expand their individual mission-driven programs and investments related to Big Data. The Plan is based on inputs from a series of Federal agency and public activities, and a shared vision: We envision a Big Data innovation ecosystem in which the ability to analyze, extract information from, and make decisions and discoveries based upon large, diverse, and realtime datasets enables new capabilities for Federal agencies and the Nation at large; accelerates the process of scientific discovery and innovation; leads to new fields of research and new areas of inquiry that would otherwise be impossible; educates the next generation of 21st century scientists and engineers; and promotes new economic growth.

The Plan is built around seven strategies that represent key areas of importance for Big Data research and development (R&D). Priorities listed within each strategy highlight the intended outcomes that can be addressed by the missions and research funding of NITRD agencies. These include advancing human understanding in all branches of science, medicine, and security; ensuring the Nation’s continued leadership in research and development; and enhancing the Nation’s ability to address pressing societal and environmental issues facing the Nation and the world through research and development.

Big Data Strategies

Strategy 1: Create next-generation capabilities by leveraging emerging Big Data foundations, techniques, and technologies. Continued, increasing investments in the next generation of large-scale data collection, management, and analysis will allow agencies to adapt to and manage the ever increasing scales of data being generated, and leverage the data to create fundamentally new services and capabilities. Advances in computing and data analytics will provide new abstractions to deal with complex data, and simplify programming of scalable and parallel systems while achieving maximal performance. Fundamental advances in computer science, machine learning, and statistics will enable future data-analytics systems that are flexible, responsive, and predictive. Innovations in deep learning will be needed to create knowledge bases of interconnected information from unstructured data. Research into social computing such as crowdsourcing, citizen science, and collective distributed tasks will help develop techniques to enable humans to mediate tasks that may be beyond the scope of computers. New techniques and methods for interacting with and visualizing data will enhance the “human-data” interface.

Strategy 2: Support R&D to explore and understand trustworthiness of data and resulting knowledge, to make better decisions, enable breakthrough discoveries, and take confident action. To ensure the trustworthiness of information and knowledge derived from Big Data, appropriate methods and quantification approaches are needed to capture uncertainty in data as well as to ensure reproducibility and replicability of results. This is especially important when data is repurposed for a use different than the one for which the data was originally collected, and when data is integrated from multiple, heterogeneous sources of different quality. Techniques and tools are needed to promote transparency in data-driven decision making, including tools that provide detailed audits of the decision-making process to show, for example, the steps that led to a specific action. Research is needed on metadata frameworks to support trustworthiness of data, including recording the context and semantics of the data, which may evolve over time. Interpreting the results from analyses to decide upon appropriate courses of action may require human involvement. Interdisciplinary research is needed in the use of machine learning in data-driven decision making and discovery systems to examine how data can be used to best support and enhance human judgment.

Strategy 3: Build and enhance research cyberinfrastructure that enables Big Data innovation in support of agency missions. Investment in advanced research cyberinfrastructure is essential in order to keep pace with the growth in data, stay globally competitive in cutting-edge scientific research, and fulfill agency missions. A coordinated national strategy is needed to identify the needs and requirements for secure, advanced cyberinfrastructure to support handling and analyzing the vast amounts of data, including large numbers of real-time data streams from the Internet of Things (IoT), available for applications in commerce, science, defense, and other areas with Federal agency involvement—all while preserving and protecting individual privacy. Shared benchmarks, standards, and metrics will be essential for a well-functioning cyberinfrastructure ecosystem. Participatory design is necessary to optimize the usefulness and minimize the consequences of the infrastructure for all stakeholders. Education and training to build human capacity is also critical: users must be properly educated and trained to fully utilize the tools available to them.

Strategy 4: Increase the value of data through policies that promote sharing and management of data. More data must be made available and accessible on a sustained basis to maximize value and impact. The scale and heterogeneity of Big Data present significant challenges in data sharing. Encouraging data sharing, including sharing of source data, interfaces, metadata, and standards, and encouraging interoperability of associated infrastructure, improves the accessibility and value of existing data, and enhances the ability to perform new analyses on combined datasets. Building upon the current state of best practices and standards for data sharing, as well as developing new technologies to improve discoverability, usability, and transferability for data sharing, will enable more effective use of resources for future development. Research is necessary at the “human-data” interface to support the development of flexible, efficient, and usable data interfaces to fit the specific needs of different user groups. Federal agencies that provide R&D funding can assist through policies to incentivize the Big Data and data science research communities to provide comprehensive documentation on their analysis workflows and related data, driven by metadata standards and annotation systems. Such efforts will encourage greater data reuse and provide a greater return on research investments.

Strategy 5: Understand Big Data collection, sharing, and use with regard to privacy, security, and ethics. Privacy, security, and ethical concerns are key considerations in the Big Data innovation ecosystem. Privacy concerns affect how information is viewed and managed by data collectors and data providers; security concerns about personal information demand attention to data protection; and ethical concerns about the possibilities of data analyses leading to discriminatory practices have reignited civil rights debates. Research in Big Data is necessary to understand and address the variety of needs and demands of different application domains to achieve practical solutions to challenges in data privacy, security, and ethics. New policy solutions may be necessary to protect privacy and clarify data ownership. Techniques and tools are needed to help assess data security, and to secure data, in the highly distributed networks that are becoming increasingly common in Big Data application scenarios. The ability to perform comprehensive evaluations of data lifecycles is necessary to determine the longterm risk of retaining, or removing datasets. Additionally, the Nation must promote ethics in Big Data by ensuring that technologies do not propagate errors or disadvantage certain groups, either explicitly or implicitly. Efforts to explore ethics-sensitive Big Data research would enable stakeholders to better consider values and societal ethics of Big Data innovation alongside utility, risk, and cost.

Strategy 6: Improve the national landscape for Big Data education and training to fulfill increasing demand for both deep analytical talent and analytical capacity for the broader workforce. A comprehensive education strategy is essential to meet increasing workforce demands in Big Data and ensure that the United States remains economically competitive. Efforts are needed to determine the core educational requirements of data scientists, and investments are needed to support the next generation of data scientists and increase the number of data-science faculty and researchers. As scientific research becomes richer in data, domain scientists need access to opportunities to further their data-science skills, including projects that foster collaborations with data scientists, data-science short courses, and initiatives to supplement training through seed grants, professional-development stipends, and fellowships. In addition, employees and managers in all sectors need access to training “boot camps,” professional-development workshops, and certificate programs to learn the relevance of Big Data to their organizations. More university courses on foundational topics and other short-term training modules are also necessary to help transform the broader workforce into data-enabled citizens. Data-science training should extend to all people through online courses, citizen-science projects, and K- 12 education. Research in data-science education should explore the notion of data literacy, curricular models for providing data literacy, and the data-science skills to be taught at various grade levels.

Strategy 7: Create and enhance connections in the national Big Data innovation ecosystem. Persistent mechanisms should be established to increase the ability of agencies to partner in Big Data R&D both by removing the bureaucratic hurdles for technology and data sharing and by building sustainable programs. One such possible mechanism is the creation of cross-agency development sandboxes or testbeds to help agencies collaborate on new technologies and convert R&D output into innovative and useful capabilities. Another is the development of policies to allow for rapid and dynamic sharing of data across agency boundaries in response to urgent priorities, such as national disasters. A third is the formation of Big Data “benchmarking centers” that focus on grand challenge applications and help determine the datasets, analysis tools, and interoperability requirements necessary in achieving key national priority goals. And, finally, a national Big Data innovation ecosystem needs a strong community of practitioners across Federal agencies to facilitate rapid innovation, ensure long-term propagation of ideas, and provide maximal return on research investments.


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.

2016 Regional Innovation Policies Conference

Cardiff Wales, November 3-4, 2016

Welcome to the 11th Regional Innovation Policies Conference 2016.  For more than a decade the Regional Innovation Policies Conference has been an essential date in the diaries of researchers, policy-makers and practitioners with an interest in the field of regional innovation, regional development and innovation policy.  The conference will feature keynote addresses and parallel sessions on a number of key themes arranged around the central topic of regional innovation, regional development and innovation policy.  The role of regions in innovation debates; the role of innovation in promoting the growth of innovation; the spatial distribution of innovation, and the role of regional policies in both stimulating and harnessing innovation are recurrent themes for the Regional Innovation Policies Conference.

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.