The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 343

News from the IPL


Winner of New Smart Manufacturing Institute and New MII Competitions Announced

SSTI Weekly Digest
President Obama recently announced  the creation of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Smart MII) – a $140 million public-private partnership to develop smart sensors for use in advanced manufacturing. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) – a consortium of nearly 200 partners from academia and industry as well as nonprofit organizations – will lead the Smart MII. The Smart MII is the ninth MII awarded by the Obama administration. The president also announced five additional MII competitions, which are intended to invest nearly $800 million in combined federal and non-federal resources to support transformative manufacturing technologies in four areas: Robotics in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation; Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute; Modular Chemical Process Intensification Institute; and , Reducing Embodied Energy and Decreasing Emissions in Materials Manufacturing Institute.

Montreal Mayor Announces 77.3M USD Smart City Startup Fund

SSTI Weekly Digest
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre launched Capital Intelligent Mtl – a 100 million CD (77.3 million USD) investment fund aimed at smart city startups and established businesses offering solutions to urban challenges that also will spur job creation in Montreal. The new public-private partnership will backed by 23 founding organizations including venture capital firms, financial institutions and corporations that have pledged over 100 million CD in private capital to establish the fund. In addition to the over 100 million CD from private sources, the city will commit 400,000 CD (309,000 USD) for the administration of Capital Intelligent Mtl through to 2018 with the intent of ensuring the coordination of the group’s activities. While the management team of Capital Intelligent Mtl will oversee the day-to-day operations of the investment fund as well as pre-quality companies for investment, partners will be included in the final review of all investments. Capital Intelligent Mtl can make investments of up to 5 million USD (3.9 million USD) into individual companies.

Editor's Pick

Clusters in Ontario: Creating an Ecosystem for Prosperity

Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
Strengthening clusters can lead to increased productivity, economic growth, and prosperity because clusters foster interactions that can energize the regional economy. In this Working Paper 26, the Institute highlights five strong, traded clusters in Ontario. The Institute recommends that the Ontario government facilitate the growth of such clusters – rather than replicate them or force their existence. 

Innovation Policy

OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the Canada examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Network sector competition; Small business dynamism. It finds that activity is shifting from energy to non-energy sectors in response to price signals. Vulnerabilities related to housing and household debt are still increasing, albeit at a slower pace. Finally, productivity growth has been weak until recently.

OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the United States examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Private sector productivity and Making growth more inclusive. Core findings include the fact that the U.S. economy has rebounded from the crisis, but that productivity has slowed for most industries. Income inequality continues to rise.

The Fusion Effect: The Economic Returns to Combining Arts and Science Skills

Josh Siepel et al., Nesta
This research explores the fusion of arts and science skills in UK companies and the impact of this combination on performance. Using official UK data on innovation and firm capability, the authors analyze the finances of firms that use arts and science skills. They find compelling evidence to suggest that firms combining these skills are more likely to grow in the future, are more productive, and are more likely to produce radical innovations. These findings support the hypothesis that the impact of arts skills in the UK economy extends beyond the creative industries.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Toward Regional Resilience in Toronto: From Diagnosis to Action

Zack Taylor and Leah Birnbaum, University of Western Ontario
Greater Toronto is recognized as a high-performing urban region. Over the past decade, however, negative social, economic, and environmental trends have emerged that threaten the region’s future. On the basis of documentary research and four focus group workshops with a diverse array of professional practitioners, this paper assesses the Toronto region’s current assets and vulnerabilities in relation to future risks. The discussion is framed by the concept of resilience—an increasingly popular, yet abstract, concept in urban planning and public administration. This paper proposes, first, that planning and policymaking be directed toward increasing the region’s resilience, understood as the diversity and redundancy of social, economic, environmental, and fiscal-governmental systems. Second, it suggests that public resource allocation be guided by what some have called anticipatory governance—the proactive use of scenarios to discover where multiple risks and vulnerabilities intersect, and therefore where returns may be greatest. Finally, the paper suggests that an appeal to improving quality of life rather than to crisis or individual self- interest may be the most effective way to build broad support for long-term investments in resilience-enhancing infrastructure and services.

Good Governance at the Local Level: Meaning and Measurement

Zack Taylor, IMFG
This paper situates Canadian local governance practices within a review of international perspectives on the meaning and evaluation of governance quality. The author finds that Canadian authorities have construed local good governance largely in utilitarian terms, as the efficiency of service delivery. He proposes a broader research program on local governance quality in Canada, one that is expressly comparative, pays equal attention to the quality of decision-making and accountability processes, and is directed toward continuous improvement.

Implementing RIS3: The Case of the Basque Country

M.J. Aranguren, K. Morgan, and J.R. Wilson, Basque Institute of Competitiveness
The aim of this report is to get into the heart of the processes that are underway in the Basque Country as it seeks to move from the design to the implementation of its RIS3. It is explicitly not an evaluation report, however, and doesn’t pretend to enter into a detailed analysis of every aspect of the Basque RIS3. Rather, it aims to succinctly document, explain and analyze the most significant developments in the process of implementing the Basque RIS3 since it was approved at the end of 2014 in the shape of the Science Technology and Innovation Plan 2020. In particular, therefore, the report focuses on two key features of the implementation process to date: the deepening of regional governance mechanisms for RIS3 and the stimulation of entrepreneurial discovery processes. By doing this the report hopes to provide a focal point for learning both in the Basque Country and elsewhere, and to identify areas where particular challenges are present as the RIS3 process moves forwards.

FDI Planning Guide: A Blueprint for Metro Teams Pursuing Global Economic Engagement

Brad McDearman and Ryan Donahue, The Brookings Institution
To capture and more broadly share learning from the export-planning experience, in August 2012 Brookings released Ten Steps to Delivering a Successful Metro Export Plan. This “10 Steps Guide” serves as a how-to tool for private, nonprofit, and government leaders who are interested in developing effective, action-oriented export plans and initiatives customized to their region’s unique assets and capacities. This document—the “FDI Planning Guide”—serves as a companion piece to the 10 Steps Guide and is designed to support practitioners managing the everyday planning process. It is based primarily on experience gained from working with six Exchange metro areas (Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Portland; San Antonio; San Diego; and Seattle) in the FDI pilot that was completed in March 2015. The basics for both export and FDI planning phases are fundamentally the same, so the original 10 Steps Guide continues to serve as a relevant tool throughout the export and FDI planning processes. However, there are some key differences and areas of emphasis related to the FDI planning phase that are worth emphasizing. This FDI Planning Guide is divided into three sections: (1) set up: the organization and commitment of resources, (2) planning, and (3) implementation.

Statistics & Indicators

Digital Matching Firms: A New Definition in the “Sharing Economy” Space

Economics and Statistics Administration, US Department of Commerce
Increasingly, consumers and independent service providers are engaging in transactions facilitated by an Internet-based platform. The digital firms that provide the platforms are often collectively referred to as belonging to the “sharing” or “collaborative” economies, among other descriptors. However, in this paper, we narrow the focus and propose a definition of “digital matching firms” that exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. They use information technology (IT systems), typically available via web-based platforms, such as mobile “apps” on Internet- enabled devices, to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions.
  2. They rely on user-based rating systems for quality control, ensuring a level of trust between consumers and service providers who have not previously met.
  3. They offer the workers who provide services via digital matching platforms flexibility in deciding their typical working hours.
  4. To the extent that tools and assets are necessary to provide a service, digital matching firms rely on the workers using their own.

In addition to defining these “digital matching services” the report offers an initial assessment of its size and scope based on publicly available data on its largest firms, as well as an examination of its potential effect on consumers and service providers. The report closes with an overview of the benefits and challenges emerging from the growth of these firms.

Innovation and Firm Productivity: Evidence from the US Patent Data

Jingbo Cui and Xiaogang Li, Wuhan University
In this paper, the authors examine the relationship between productivity and innovation, using the U.S. manufacturers’ patent data from 1976-2006. First, they investigate whether productive firms actively participate in innovation in terms of having more patents, and then examine whether their innovation activities are involved in a wide spectrum of technological categories. Moreover, they are interested in whether, to successfully develop a new patent in a certain technological field, productive firms need to cite more or less patents within the field and/or across various related fields. The firm-level productivity is estimated as the total factor productivity (TFP). The researchers find that: (i) productivity is positively correlated with the number of patents granted and the number of technological categories for these patents; and (ii) productivity is positive correlated with the number of citations per granted patent, and is also positively correlated with the number of technological categories for cited patents per granted patent. Whereas the former finding indicates that productive firms actively conduct research and their innovation is involved in different technological fields, the latter suggests that, to develop a new patent, productive firms are capable of learning from cited patents in various technologies fields.

Policy Digest

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow: A Shared Responsibility

Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Panel
In fall 2015, Ontario appointed five members to The Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel (Panel) – Chair, Sean Conway, and members Dr. Carol Campbell, Robert Hardt, Alison Loat, and Pradeep Sood. Panel members were selected based on their professional experience, knowledge of the business climate, and relationships with a cross-section of stakeholder groups, and on their understanding of employers, the education and public sectors, and issues related to the labour market.

The Panel was asked to develop an integrated strategy to help the province’s current and future workforce adapt to the demands of a technology-driven knowledge economy – with a goal of doing so by bridging the worlds of skills development, education and training. The Panel was tasked to recommend a clear agenda and key set of directions for government and stakeholders, by August 2016.

During the course of its work, the Panel met with a wide range of interested parties – employers, educators, labour, students, worker representatives, training organizations, and community groups, among others. The Panel attended a number of public meetings including the 2016 Summit on Talent and Skills in the New Economy, held in Oshawa in late January 2016. It also reviewed and considered the latest research on best practices in other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world. The culmination of this work is presented in this final strategy document (report).

The report has been developed based on the premise that Ontario’s workforce has long been its strength, but to compete and succeed in a fast-paced economy, Ontario’s workforce must be equipped with skills and opportunities that meet all the needs of the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Panel envisions an Ontario economy in which employers understand that human capital is as valuable and necessary to business and productivity growth as other forms of capital. This would also be an economy where entrepreneurship and innovation are encouraged and nurtured.

In the short term, this means that Ontario employers must join their partners in education, labour, government and elsewhere to actively and creatively address regional and sectoral needs in the labour market and better integrate underrepresented groups including older workers, new Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities, in an economy that is being rapidly transformed by both demographic and technological change.

The Panel has made 28 recommendations in six key themes and two other areas. The government should take a leadership role in implementing the following four recommendations:

  1. Establish a Planning and Partnership Table (PPT) chaired by representatives from employers, education and government. This Table would be a formal institutionalized body responsible for producing results in the area of skills development and experiential learning opportunities that contribute to increased linkages to employment and entrepreneurship. The PPT should not be a government-driven body but should be strongly and actively supported by all stakeholders. (Recommendation 1-1)
  2. Establish a Workforce Planning and Development Office, in the provincial government, to drive the delivery of the Panel’s recommendations and to support the government’s role at the Planning and Partnership Table. (Recommendation 1-2)
  3. The Ontario government must take a leadership role in developing and making generally available high quality labour market information so that everyone can make better decisions based on timely, relevant, and understandable information. The Panel strongly encourages the Ontario government to use the Forum of Labour Market Ministers to drive this important reform. (Recommendation 2-1)
  4. Expanding experiential learning opportunities is critical to success in the area of skills development. Therefore, Ontario should commit to strengthening and expanding experiential learning opportunities across secondary, post-secondary, and adult learning environments. As a first step, Ontario should commit to ensuring that every student has at least one experiential learning opportunity by the end of secondary school (in addition to the existing volunteer requirements) and at least one by the time they graduate from post-secondary education. (Recommendation 3-2)

In the short term, the Panel recommends that priority should be placed on establishing the Planning and Partnership Table, as this group will provide the necessary foundation to support the implementation of the remaining recommendations.

Implementation of these recommendations is a shared responsibility among all parties. These parties must work together to:

  1. Communicate and be open minded to the possibilities of different ways of learning;
  2. Understand the changing nature of work and;
  3. Rethink traditional roles and responsibilities when it comes to effective and timely labour market development.

The Panel feels strongly that effective skills training is also a shared responsibility and that all parties must work together. Everyone involved must understand that communities have a critically important role to play in the design and delivery of effective programs. Successful skills training is a foundational aspect of local economic development and it requires community leadership, community engagement, and sensitivity to local/regional conditions. There is no substitute for strong, credible intermediaries who can focus community attention and support for the important work that must be done in this vital area of public policy. The rapidly changing global economy requires on our meeting this challenge.


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 Barcelona Workshop on Regional and Urban Economics

Barcelona, Spain, 27-28 October, 2016
The workshop will be focused on innovation and the spatial diffusion of knowledge with emphasis in collaboration networks. Its aim is to bring together researchers in urban and regional economics who are working in topics where the broad concept of the geography of innovation plays a fundamental role. Particular attention will be paid to papers dealing with the mechanisms and actors of knowledge diffusion (knowledge spillovers, networks, technological collaboration, and knowledge relatedness). Although the Workshop will focus on empirical papers, theoretical studies are also welcome.

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.

The 2016 Technology Transfer Society Annual Conference

Phoenix, Arizona, 3-5 November, 2016
At least two decades of research show that new knowledge is a critical component of economic and social development.  Recent comprehensive reviews of the technology transfer literature conceptualize university technology transfer in terms of a patent-centric linear model—formal technology transfer—including technology disclosure, patent filing, and licensing.  This paradigm not only overlooks a diversity of practices by technology transfer offices, it also neglects other innovative practices or conceptualizations relating to the creation and exchange of new knowledge. To address the aforementioned gaps, the 2016 T2S Annual meeting will focus on alternative practices, policies, and conceptualizations of knowledge exchange that go beyond formal university technology transfer.  We are especially interested in empirical works that utilize frameworks and methodologies from a variety of disciplines and that utilize a variety of perspectives.

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.