The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 351

News from the IPL


Federal, Provincial and Territorial Innovation Ministers Work to Drive Economic Growth

Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for innovation and economic development recently concluded a productive meeting. They reaffirmed their shared commitment to driving economic growth through innovation in ways that create jobs, protect the environment and raise the living standards of all Canadians. Before the meeting, the ministers met leaders from national Indigenous organizations to discuss ways to protect the environment while promoting economic development. The ministers then received the final report of the Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs, which outlines options for developing clean technologies, accelerating their commercialization and encouraging their adoption. The ministers will provide recommendations to First Ministers for consideration in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth. Ministers met with Canadian Innovation Leaders who held round tables with key stakeholders nationwide this summer to inform the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda, a plan to drive economic growth through innovation. Sarah Lubik of Simon Fraser University, Elizabeth Cannon of the University of Calgary and Janie Béïque of Fonds de solidarité FTQ presented regional highlights from the public engagement.

Bay Area Cities Collaborate to Boost Regional Manufacturing

Business Facilities
As technology and innovation transform manufacturing, four cities in one metro region are setting aside competitive differences to collaborate on a manufacturing initiative aimed to create more entry-level and middle-class jobs. Led by the nonprofit SFMade, and with major funding from Citi Community Development and PG&E, the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Fremont recently announced the unique collaboration, along with results from the first-ever Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing Report (see below). SFMade’s report findings represent the first coordinated regional effort to directly survey urban manufacturers on the topics of workforce, business practices, supply chain connections, and real estate challenges. The findings will inform the collaboration’s direction, with the aim to help guide regional economic equity.

National Defense Authorization Includes SBIR Authorization

SSTI Weekly Digest
Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017, which now awaits the President’s signature. The bill includes several significant provisions for the innovation community, including:

  • SBIR is reauthorized through FY 2022 but without the administrative funds pilot program provision included in the 2012 reauthorization;
  • The Rapid Innovation Program, which enables the Department of Defense to work with small businesses and defense laboratories to deploy new technologies through contracts of up to $3 million, is made permanent;
  • The National Defense University and Defense Acquisition University are permitted to enter into cooperative R&D agreements;
  • A Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program is authorized (but not funded) to support a wide array of educational, networking and research activities between universities, nonprofits and industry; and,
  • A $250 million pilot within the Rapid Prototyping Fund is authorized (subject to the availability of funds) to work with nontraditional and small contractors.

Editor's Pick

 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index

Deloitte Global
The results of the 2016 study clearly show the ongoing influence manufacturing has on driving global economies. From its influence on infrastructure development, job creation, and contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) on both an overall and per capita basis, a strong manufacturing sector creates a clear path toward economic prosperity. Moving into 2016 and looking forward to the end of this decade, manufacturing related activities among global nations are rapidly evolving. Manufacturing earnings and exports are stimulating economic prosperity causing nations to increase their focus on developing advanced manufacturing capabilities by investing in high-tech infrastructure and education. Nations and companies are striving to advance to the next technology frontier and raise their economic well-being. And as the digital and physical worlds of manufacturing converge, advanced technologies have become even more essential to company- and country level – competitiveness. In fact, technology-intensive sectors dominate the global manufacturing landscape in most advanced economies and appear to offer a strong path. 

Innovation Policy

Everything the U.S. Government is Doing to Help the Private Sector Build the Internet of Things

Joshua New and Daniel Castro, Center for Data Innovation
Because the Internet of Things—physical objects embedded with sensors or actuators and connected to a network, which can include everything from home appliances to automated factories to connected cars—offers so many important economic and social benefits, countries should develop national strategies to promote its adoption and use. Among other benefits, creating a national strategy would help coordinate existing initiatives and allow government agencies to better plan future projects. One way to accelerate development and adoption of the Internet of Things is for the U.S. federal government to be an early adopter. However, in addition to being an early adopter, the U.S. government has a significant opportunity to support private-sector efforts at building the Internet of Things through other activities, including programs to provide technical resources; strengthen cybersecurity; develop industry-friendly regulations; ensure spectrum availability; support research, development, and demonstration; and coordinate stakeholders. Many of these programs are underway, although they often lack the coordination and scale necessary to support the Internet of Things as completely as possible. The purpose of this report is to shine a light on these activities, so policymakers have a better understanding of what is being done today and where gaps exist.

Localizing the Economic Impact of Research and Development: Policy Proposals for the Trump Administration

Stephen Ezell and Scott M. Andes, ITIF
Innovation drives countries’ long-term economic growth and improvements in quality of life. But the competition between nations for innovation leadership has intensified even as the increased complexity of technological innovation has made it more difficult to achieve. For these reasons, the federal government needs to step up its game when it comes to technology commercialization policies and programs. If America is going to effectively compete with the world in the modern global innovation economy, it will need to do a better job of transforming knowledge into new companies and products here at home. Achieving this requires new policies that can help get technologies out of the laboratory and transfer them to market for commercialization by private-sector actors. To help policymakers address these challenges, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Brookings Institution’s Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking collaborated to propose 50 actions that the incoming Trump administration and new Congress can take to support tech transfer and commercialization nationwide. The paper’s recommendations range from prioritizing innovation districts in federal R&D outlays to implementing federal innovation vouchers to connect startups with research institutions.

Clusters & Regions

Collaborating for Growth: Opportunities for Ontario

Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
In the 15th Annual Report, Ontario’s Panel on Economic Growth & Prosperity analyzes Ontario’s economic performance compared to its peer jurisdictions. Overall, Ontario benefits from a better age profile than the median peer jurisdiction, yet productivity continues to be the province’s greatest challenge. Ontario’s prosperity gap (the difference between GDP per capita and the peer GDP per capita) is $2,740. This could be improved by leveraging the many strengths found in Ontario’s industries. The Report takes a deep dive into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of four industries in the province with high-growth potential: finance and insurance; life sciences; metal ore mining; and motor vehicle and parts manufacturing. There are several key lessons in the Report. First, Ontario has a strong appetite for innovation with many success stories, yet suffers an innovation gap. Second, talent remains integral to bolstering productivity. Third, the Panel encourages the Ontario government to pool resources around the province’s strengths. 

Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Report

Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative
The inaugural Bay Area State of Urban Manufacturing report is the culmination of the first coordinated regional effort to directly survey urban manufacturers on the topics of workforce, business practices, supply chain connections, real estate challenges, and most importantly, to uncover the opportunities for the largest Bay Area cities to collaborate and grow: San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Fremont.

An Economic Geography of the United States: From Commutes to Megaregions

Garrett Dash Nelson and Alasdair Rae
The emergence in the United States of large-scale “megaregions” centered on major metropolitan areas is a phenomenon often taken for granted in both scholarly studies and popular accounts of contemporary economic geography. This paper uses a data set of more than 4,000,000 commuter flows as the basis for an empirical approach to the identification of such megaregions. The authors compare a method which uses a visual heuristic for understanding areal aggregation to a method which uses a computational partitioning algorithm, and reflect upon the strengths and limitations of both. The report discusses how choices about input parameters and scale of analysis can lead to different results, and stress the importance of comparing computational results with “common sense” interpretations of geographic coherence. The results provide a new perspective on the functional economic geography of the United States from a megaregion perspective, and shed light on the old geographic problem of the division of space into areal units.

Digital Entrepreneurship: An Idea Bank for Entrepreneurs

The starting and scaling of new ventures is of such importance to our economic well-being that it must be on the agenda of policymakers at all levels. Thus, whilst national policy is vital, we must remember that entrepreneurs are also affected by their local environment. Sub-national bodies like chambers of commerce, cluster managers, councils and local regulators – as well as universities and big business – all can influence entrepreneurs’ decisions and affect the framework within which startups thrive or die. Digital entrepreneurship is particularly significant given the role of digital technologies in enabling innovative business models and driving economic growth. The unique characteristics of digital goods and services frequently rewards the first to scale, and often means that the winner takes all – hence, a slight policy edge may produce disproportionate gains. There is also evidence that startups in general are more sensitive than incumbent firms to the policy environment, meaning that policymakers’ actions – or indeed inaction – can have a strong effect on startups. This guide is therefore intended specifically to help local policymakers and influencers create better conditions for entrepreneurship at the regional or city level. Intended as a ‘bank of ideas’, it draws together examples of policies and initiatives that support startups, especially digital startups, in an effort to provide inspiration and options.

Statistics & Indicators

Ontario Quarterly Report – Fall 2016

Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
In this report, the Institute evaluates new policies announced in Ontario’s Speech from the Throne: creating 100,000 new childcare spaces, providing relief on electricity bills, and implementing a renewed math strategy. It also covers new policies introduced in the 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: addressing housing affordability and two new programs under the Business Growth Initiative that are targeted at helping firms scale up.

Policy Digest

 A Policymaker’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing

Stephen Ezell, ITIF
Just as they have done in the media, publishing, transportation, hospitality, financial, and transportation industries, today information and communications technologies are transforming virtually every facet of the manufacturing economy, from the way products are designed, made, and used to how the factories making those products connect, operate, and fabricate. The advent of smart manufacturing heralds a future where products are designed and produced more quickly, safely, efficiently, and inexpensively; more energy efficiently; and more customized to an individual customer’s needs and demands. Moreover, as manufacturing digitalization enables increasing automation and mass customization (as opposed to mass production of largely indistinct units)—a phenomenon described as “a lot size of one”—it promises to change the economics of modern manufacturing, reducing the relative competitive advantage of low-wage nations that traditionally competed primarily via low labor costs, thus increasing the ability of higher-wage nations to gain global manufacturing market share. This report starts by explaining the evolution of smart manufacturing, placing smart manufacturing in the context of advanced manufacturing, and describing how smart manufacturing touches every step of modern manufacturing value chains and production processes. It demonstrates how “smart” attains at each step of the modern manufacturing process, including digitally enabled product design, 3D printing (i.e., additive manufacturing), digitally empowered factory operations, digitally linked supply chains, and by making the products themselves smart. It then documents the myriad benefits smart manufacturing produces before reviewing the policies that leading nations and regions such as China, Germany, the European Union, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are implementing to achieve smart manufacturing leadership. Finally, the report reviews the policies the United States should consider implementing to support its manufacturing sector in general, and its smart manufacturing capabilities in particular.

Specifically, the report makes the following policy recommendations:

Congress should:

  • Enact legislation to expand federal resources for training and adoption of smart manufacturing technologies by U.S. small- to medium-sized manufacturers, similar to the smart manufacturing provisions of the Senate-passed version of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012), which would articulate a formal definition of smart manufacturing and direct the Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Centers program to work more closely with small- and medium-sized manufacturers to help them learn about and adopt smart manufacturing technologies. 
  • Allocate funding to build out Manufacturing USA (formerly known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) from the current 9 to the envisioned 45 institutes.
  • Provide a stronger tax incentive for investment in machinery and equipment, such as by enacting an investment tax credit of 35 percent on all capital expenditures made above 75 percent of a base amount.
  • As an alternative option to the above, allow firms to expense, for tax purposes, the entire cost of equipment and software in the first year, instead of having to depreciate the cost over a number of years.
  • Support the Small Business R&D Act, which would require the Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service to expand knowledge sharing and training on R&D tax-credit instruments and provide a report to Congress on their progress.
  • Adjust the required Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) cost-share ratio from 2:1 (nonfederal to federal) to 1:1.
  • Increase credentialing for the manufacturing workforce by providing funding to expand the development and use of standards-based, nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications designed for specific manufacturing sectors.
  • Boost support for vocational-education programs at community colleges, in part by increasing funding for Perkins vocational education and training programs.
  • Reform the Workforce Investment Act system to allow more funds now going to Workforce Investment Boards to instead go to industry-led regional skills alliances.
  • Pass the Manufacturing Universities Act, which would authorize and appropriate funds to create a core of at least 20 universities that brand themselves as leading manufacturing universities.
  • Pass the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2015, which would create a federal charter for a nonprofit organization called “The National Fab Lab Network.”
  • Fund a pilot program that would integrate the maker movement and makerspaces into high schools.
  • Provide sufficient funding for R&D into key underlying technological challenges relevant to the Internet of Things, such as developing standards, improving cybersecurity, and reducing power consumption.
  • Fund the National Strategic Computing Initiative and related federal high-performance computing initiatives at a level of at least $325 million per year over the next five years.
  • Recognize that trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trade in Services Agreement contain vital provisions that preclude partner nations from introducing barriers to cross-border data flows that could significantly impede the potential of smart manufacturing.

The next administration, or its agencies and departments therein, should:

  • Continue the practice of articulating a national manufacturing strategy.
  • Ensure that MEP centers are collaborating with and embedded within all Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation to identify emerging manufacturing process technologies and help rapidly diffuse them to small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
  • Direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to continue mapping the landscape of smart manufacturing standards and leverage its convening power to facilitate industry’s voluntary development and adoption of interoperable data-communication standards, as well as standards and best practices addressing cybersecurity and privacy issues.
  • Negotiate (and enforce) trade agreements that preclude partner nations from imposing barriers to cross-border data flows.


4th PhD Workshop in Economic of Innovation, Complexity, and Knowledge

Turin, Italy, 15-16 December, 2016
The Vilfredo Pareto Doctorate program of the University of Turin and the BRICK, Collegio Carlo Alberto, are pleased to announce the 4th Doctoral Workshop in Economics of Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge. The aim of the workshop is to bring together PhD students from all over the world working in the broad fields of Economics of Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge. The Workshop will provide participants with a great opportunity to network with peers researching on similar topics and to receive feedback from both junior and senior scholars.

Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions

Bolzano, Italy, 22-24 March, 2017
This second edition of “Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions” – SSPCR 2017 – faces the challenge of inspiring the transition of urban areas towards smarter and more sustainable places to live. Towards this aim, planners and stakeholders are called to take over – in a multidimensional perspective – both the urgent issues related to climate change and energy efficiency, and the new potential changes introduced by cities’ digitalization and the integration of ICT in infrastructures, mobility, and social interactions. In this scenario, planning requires a global overview and understanding of the past and current state of cities as well as a holistic approach in redirecting their future development and regeneration. Therefore, SSPCR 2017 warmly welcomes contributions coming from different research fields: urban and regional planning, environmental and social sciences, transportation, engineering and energy-related studies, as well as from the professional community. Alongside with oral, poster and virtual dissertations, cooperation and demonstration projects are also warmly invited to join SSPCR 2017, in the spirit of disseminating innovative approaches, implemented activities and achieved results.

CFP: 11th Workshop on the Organization, Economics, and Policy of Scientific Research

Torino, Italy, 15-16 May, 2017
The aim of the workshop is to bring together a small group of scholars interested in the analysis of the production and diffusion of scientific research from an economics, historical, organizational, and policy perspective. The workshop aims at including papers form various streams of research developed in recent years in and around the area of public and private scientific research. 

Regional Studies Association Conference 2017: The Great Regional Awakening – New Directions

Dublin, Ireland, 4-7 June, 2017
A ‘Great Regional Awakening’ is underway. There is a growing realization that regional inequalities have both contributed to, and amplified, the ‘Great Recession’ that shook advanced and emerging economies alike. It is also becoming apparent that the crisis has been having very different impacts spatially. This will only help to further exacerbate uneven economic development, fueling more trouble down the line. In Europe, major economic fault-lines are re-emerging between and within national economies; between the core and the periphery; between urban and rural areas; between city-regions and within cities themselves. This pattern is replicated elsewhere – in advanced, emerging and developing world. There is an urgent need to re-examine all aspects of local and regional development and how it relates to national and international economic dynamics; and to social, political, cultural, technological and environmental processes. Having spent over 50 years advocating more balanced regional development, the Regional Studies Association is now spearheading a major effort to address these pressing issues in such challenging times.


New York, USA, 12-14 June, 2017
DRUID and NYU Stern School of Business are proud to invite senior and junior scholars to participate and contribute with a paper to DRUID17, hosted by NYU Stern in New York. Presenting distinguished plenary speakers, a range of parallel paper sessions, and a highly attractive social program, the conference aims at mapping theoretical, empirical and methodological advances, contributing novel insights, and help identifying scholarly positions, divisions, and common grounds in current scientific controversies within the field. DRUID17 invites paper submissions on innovation, entrepreneurship and other aspects of structural, institutional and geographic change.

Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy

Atlanta, USA, 9-11 October, 2017
The Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy provides a showcase for the highest quality scholarship addressing the multidimensional challenges and interrelated characteristics of science and innovation policy and processes. Spanning three days, the conference will include plenary sessions reflecting different facets of the science and innovation system, presentations of well-developed research, and an early career poster session to allow young researchers to present their work. Submissions should address issues relevant to the science and innovation system, and may fall into one or more topic areas related to the STI/research system.

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