The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 354

News from the IPL


Canada Announces Innovation Investments and Future Growth Strategy

SSTI Weekly Digest
Canada is targeting innovation to drive economic prosperity through several recently announced investments. These investments are intended to unlock the potential of Canadian universities and entrepreneurs as well as capital for startups. The provincial government of Ontario has also unveiled several tech-based economic development efforts. In addition to these newly announced efforts, the Trudeau administration released a series of economic development-related policy recommendations to support economic growth across the country. This entry contains a rundown of several recent federal initiatives.

Ontario Investing C$75 Million Over Five Years in Big Data Initiatives

Ontario announced that it’s launching a new strategy to support researchers by helping them turn their discoveries into innovations that entrepreneurs can turn into products. The Advanced Research Computing and Big Data Strategy, which is made up of an investment of $75 million over five years, will provide researchers with technology to analyze data more thoroughly. As big data is too complex to be processed by standard computers, the province is hoping to invest in advanced research computing. In the long-term, Ontario wants to make it easier to interpret big data that will lead to efficient innovations such as determining a person’s risk for developing certain diseases, improving healthcare outcomes for premature babies, and boosting farm operations.

Small Business Innovation Challenge – Call for Proposals and Partnering Forum

Ontario Centres of Excellence
Delivered by The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) on behalf of the Government of Ontario, the Small Business Innovation Challenge (SBIC) is a $28.8 million program that seeks high-potential, technology-driven start-ups and SMEs (Small-to-Medium Enterprises) with up to 500 employees to solve public sector business challenges and drive economic benefits for Ontario. Recognizing the role that government can play in building an innovation-driven economy, this program, announced in the 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, is an integral part of Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative and Ontario’s new economic strategy. Under an exciting new partnership, OCE and the Government of Ontario are helping SMEs launch their innovations from an idea stage to become globally competitive products and services. The new SBIC Program uses public sector challenges as a platform for inspiring SMEs to develop and test innovative technology solutions.

Editor's Pick

The Path to Prosperity: The Second Report of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth

Advisory Council on Economic Growth
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth has been operational for ten months, with a mandate to recommend bold ideas that will significantly improve Canada’s economic growth trajectory. The Council is focused on actionable ideas that will drive inclusive growth for all Canadians, with the goal of generating an additional C $15,000 in real, pretax median household income over the current baseline trajectory by the year 2030. The recommendations advanced by the Council share common properties: they re-imagine the role of government (specifically, as a convener/catalyst and as an investor), and they push for the flexibility needed to keep pace with a fast-changing world. While some of these initiatives may be more controversial than others, the Council members believe the sum of the recommendations is greater than each of the parts taken alone, as they are mutually reinforcing. Much like “tools in a toolkit,” these recommendations can be used in concert and with strategic intent to dramatically accelerate growth.

Innovation Policy

Trade vs. Productivity: What Caused U.S. Manufacturing’s Decline and How to Revive It

Adams Nager, ITIF
The prevailing narrative says automation was the main culprit behind U.S. manufacturing job losses in the early 2000s, and that automation is now powering an unprecedented manufacturing technology revolution that will continue to displace jobs. But the truth is trade pressure and faltering U.S. competitiveness were responsible for more than two-thirds of the 5.7 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010. And rather than entering a “fourth industrial revolution,” U.S. manufacturing productivity growth now is actually near an all-time low. This report parses the data and concludes that U.S. policymakers should aim to close the country’s trade deficit in manufactured goods by fighting foreign mercantilism and pursuing a national competitiveness agenda that hinges in part on boosting manufacturing productivity rates. The report finds that successfully closing the manufacturing goods trade deficit this way would create 1.3 million jobs.

Ten Principles to Guide the Administration’s Manufacturing Strategy

Robert D. Atkinson and Stephen Ezell, ITIF
The question of what an intelligent U.S. manufacturing strategy should entail is central to the future of the U.S. economy, so getting it right is critical. The Trump administration has a real opportunity to do that by ignoring both supercilious criticism and tired laissez-faire thinking, but it also runs the risk of overreacting and thereby making things worse, not better. Therefore, to help guide the new administration’s manufacturing policy efforts, this briefing paper first unpacks four key policy debates on manufacturing (why jobs were lost; why jobs went offshore; what’s the right amount of manufacturing for America; and whether manufacturing can return) and shows how the conventional economics position that the media reflectively recycles is wrong on each of them. The paper then presents 10 strategic principles that should guide the administration’s efforts to restore U.S. manufacturing

The National Broadband Research Agenda: Key Priorities for Broadband Research and Data

The National Telecommunications and Information and Information Administration and the National Science Foundation
Over the last decade, broadband connectivity (or high‐speed Internet) has evolved into a critical enabler for myriad applications now integral to the personal and professional lives of Americans. Broadband has become vital to almost every segment of the Nation’s economic and social fabric. The ICT industry accounts for $1 trillion of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or 7 percent of the Nation’s economy. The broadband marketplace has undergone major transformation at all levels. Despite these transformations, 10 percent of Americans lack access to the FCC’s prescribed benchmark speeds for broadband of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload (25/3 Mbps). This divide is more pronounced in rural and Tribal areas, where 39 percent and 41 percent lack such access, respectively. Fewer than 40 percent of Americans have more than one choice of Internet Service Provider. Although over half of Americans own a smartphone, approximately 20 percent of online households rely on mobile data plans alone to go online from home. Over 40 percent of schools, representing nearly half of the nation’s students, lack the connectivity to meet the Commission’s short‐term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff. This Agenda provides a synthesis of stakeholder input and a conceptual framework for potential research proposals and data requirements in four key areas related to U.S. R&D in broadband: technology, deployment, adoption, and socioeconomic impacts. It also provides a number of opportunities for Federal support. The NBRA task force is optimistic that findings from these proposed research topics will support the continued dynamic growth of the ICT sector and identify effective strategies to address remaining disparities in broadband access, adoption, and choice in the United States.  

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Visions of a Future City

Joe Cortright, City Observatory
What kind of future do we want to live in? While that question gets asked by planners and futurists in an abstract and technical way, some of the most powerful and interesting conversations about our future aspirations are reflected in the mass media. This series explores the question of what kinds of narratives are evident in the popular culture about cities and in particular the future of city living. Images can be a powerful way to communicate, and to sell ideas. The author breaks away from a usual statistics heavy focus to talk explicitly about the images that are being used to describe cities and imagine their futures. Part I focuses on images of transportation. Part II looks at the narrative in a Samsung ad that depicts young people in the city. Part III compares a Toyota ad with those discussed in Part I and explores its relationship to the sharing and service economy.

The Megaregions of the U.S.

Garrett Dash Nelson and Alasdair Rae, Dartmouth
What would a map of the United States look like if it was based on how people actually live? Instead of dividing the country up into the familiar outlines of states, this map shows what the U.S. might look like if regions were based on the pattern which commuters weave every day between cities, suburbs, and rural areas. More than 4 million lines on this map show the direction and volume of commuter flows. The white borders show a new geography of megaregions based on an algorithmic detection of related communities. 

Collaborative Innovation with External Actors: An Empirical Study on Open Innovation Platforms in Smart Cities

Jukka Ojasalo and Heini Kauppinen, Technology Innovation Management Review
Despite the rapid increase of public–private–people partnership (PPP) programs at the global scale, the scientific knowledge of collaborative innovation in cities is scarce. All smart city initiatives emphasize collaborative innovation for better services and products to address the needs and problems of modern cities. Indeed, there is an evident need for both scientific and practical knowledge in this area. Based on an extensive empirical study of open innovation platforms in smart cities, this article seeks to address this knowledge gap by increasing the knowledge of opportunities and challenges of collaborative innovation between a city and external actors, including companies, third sector organizations, research institutions, and citizens. The opportunities relate to novel services, products, and solutions, as well as economic gains, regional development, and systemic and process improvements. The challenges relate to city governments and external actors.

Statistics & Indicators

2016 Venture Capital Funding Report

pwc and Money Tree
PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights’ Q4 2016 MoneyTree report highlights the latest trends in venture capital funding globally. The report finds that deals continue fall, hitting 5-year quarterly low. There were also broad-based decline in deals across major tech hubs in CA and NY; DC/Metroplex emerged as one of the brighter spots. The Internet holds top sector spot, Mobile & Telecom bumps Healthcare for second while Artificial Intelligence companies beat overall slowdown. Mega-round activity and unicorn birth rate remain low.

A Failure to Scale: Are We Creating Financially Unattractive Companies?

Impact Centre, University of Toronto
Policy experts and innovation practitioners have criticized Canada’s innovation system for its inability to grow and scale companies. This has been a baffling issue because Canada’s technology sector has been successful at starting companies and generating innovations with high potential. This study poses the following question: Is the way in which Canadian companies raise funds also adding to the scaling problem? To this end, it examines 49 private US companies that had received $100 million–$295 million in VC funds since inception and compares them to 49 of Canada’s largest funded tech companies that had attracted $30 million–$250 million in VC funds per firm. These fundraising patterns demonstrate remarkable differences between high-tech firms in North America. What US companies raise in four years, Canadian companies take ten years to raise. US companies (in this study) have six times the capital on hand to spend in their first five years of existence on critical functions, such as marketing and sales, which contribute to growth and long-term sustainability. The result is that, starved for funds, Canadian companies grow at a 47% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) while the US firms in the study grow significantly faster at a CAGR of 63%.

Policy Digest

The Innovation Project Volume One: Towards an Inclusive, Innovative Canada

Canada 2020 
The word “innovation” is ubiquitous. The Canadian government has declared for itself an “Innovation Agenda,” and we know that to be more competitive, Canada must innovate more—or risk being left behind. In June 2016, Canada 2020 launched a multi-phased project on innovation. As part of that initiative, we produced this report, which provides recommendations centred around 10 Big Ideas to improve Canada’s innovation performance.

Ten Big Ideas

  1. Create a Parliamentary Coherence Office and Officer. One of the most common issues that emerged from the roundtables was the lack of coherence in many areas of government policy, particularly in the area of funding programs. Policy coherence, as defined by the OECD is the “systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing policy actions across government departments and agencies creating synergies towards achieving the agreed objectives.” Policy incoherence can be the result of a lack of communication between departments or a result of conflicting priorities and objectives. It often results in well-meaning policies either conflicting or being unnecessarily confusing. The Parliamentary Coherence Office and Officer will work to highlight regulatory failures in which different policies contradict each other. For example, policies that create agricultural subsidies on ingredients that are used to make junk food may be in conflict with health policies that encourage consumers to lower their intake of that same junk food. Not only do these contradictory policies confuse Canadians, they also have a long-term economic impact.
  2. Make Government Funded Data Open, Shared, Stewarded and Transparent. A common theme that emerged during the roundtables was the importance of access to both research data and government data. Data is a valuable resource for innovation, as long as it is available and easily accessible. Government efforts should focus on making sure that data generated from publicly funded research is collected and accessible, ensuring that municipally collected data is accessible to all, and a digitization of government documents.
  3. Thicken Labour Markets by Reducing Regulations and Funding Better Transit Access. Mid-sized Canadian cities have difficulty attracting and retaining talent. The problems cited were the lack of depth across sectors, making job changes within the same region difficult; and concerns that even where jobs are available for one half of a couple there is a perception that the market depth to provide adequate employment for the other.
  4. Re-Invent Firm and Infrastructure Financing in Canada. A common theme that emerged during the roundtables was the difficulty in obtaining financing, which was seen as being partly responsible for Canadian firms failing to scale-up. Problems cited included difficulty obtaining second- and third-stage venture capital, unnecessarily complicated and occasionally incoherent government funding programs and barriers to obtaining financing to commercialize innovations. Furthermore, roundtable participants discussed how government funding programs often compete with private lenders on some dimensions, while failing to address financing market failures on other dimensions.
  5. Create Financial Regulatory Sandboxes. Canada’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to financial regulations works reasonably well for large financial companies, but unnecessarily inhibits the creation of innovative fintech companies. We believe Canada needs to create safe spaces for businesses to test financial innovations without incurring regulatory consequences that are inappropriate for the scale at which those companies are operating. This financial regulatory sandbox would be similar to the regulatory sandboxes developed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom, the Australian government and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). These financial regulatory sandboxes allow businesses to test their ideas and reduce the cost of getting innovative ideas to market, yet ensure that consumers are still protected. The sandbox would encourage and support the design and delivery of new financial products and services that benefit consumers and businesses.
  6. Create a Set of “Canada 150 Goals” and “Canada 150 Prizes." Canada needs innovative thinking to solve some of the more difficult social and economic problems the country faces, such as: a lack of safe drinking water and substandard housing on First Nations reserves, a persistently large gender wage gap, and growing rates of fentanyl and other opioid addiction. To tackle these problems, we recommend the use of goals and prizes, which we have adapted from both the XPrize Foundation and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
  7. Engage in a Canada-Wide Transformation of Numeracy Skills. In 2012, the Conference Board of Canada found that 55 per cent of Canadian adults had inadequate numeracy skills. Also, inadequate numeracy skills are higher in marginalized groups, such as Aboriginal people in Canada and immigrants. A person with inadequate numeracy skills may be unable to function well in an innovative Canada as low numeracy skills are linked to “unemployment, low wages and poor health.” Thus, poor numeracy is a massive challenge for Canada’s innovation agenda and our goal of encouraging economically inclusive innovations. The goal for this big idea is to build on measures proposed and/or put in place by other countries struggling with the same numeracy issues in order to eradicate inadequate numeracy among adults and children, and to create more positive attitudes towards numeracy in Canadian society.
  8. Create a Network of Cluster Research Centers. Clusters are beneficial because they allow for economies of scale, and access to skilled labour and innovation largely happens in geographic clusters of interrelated companies and institutions. In his 2014 report, Spencer identified 230 separate geographic clusters in 21 different industries in Canada. This included a higher education cluster in Charlottetown that employed 2,066 people in 2011, the aluminum cluster in Saguenay that employed 3,687 people and the food and beverage cluster in London that employed 6,972 people. Firms in these clusters benefit from being in the same geographic region with shared local knowledge and a shared pool of talented workers. However, there are large information gaps at the local cluster level, as clusters have very different needs and are facing very different challenges regarding innovation. Through the creation of cluster research centres, gaps in the cluster’s ecosystem will be identified, idea sharing will be increased, data will be collected and shared and regulatory failures will be identified.
  9. Reform Immigration with a Focus on Tradable Sectors. Canada’s immigration system is incredibly complex, with more than 60 different programs that admit non-Canadians to the country. Our immigration recommendations revolve around one core point: the system as a whole needs to make a larger distinction between tradable and non-tradable sectors of the economy, and focus on bringing in workers with skills valued in tradable sectors.
  10. Create Sector Specific Innovation Accords. The goal for this big idea is to ensure each sector in Canada has a coherent strategy to support innovation and that the federal government supports and participates in this strategy.  An innovation accord for key sectors of the Canadian economy should be created. These accords would promote a new relationship with the federal government and the particular sector and would facilitate policy coherence between levels of government and across departments, convening diverse stakeholders and leveraging funding. Additionally, an innovation accord would provide priorities, goals and measurements to determine sector success in innovation that results in economic inclusion and an enhancement of autonomy. These innovation accords will focus on outcomes and practical commitments and consider areas such as policy design, funding arrangements and strengthening innovation within the sector. The implementation of the innovation accords should be overseen by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).


Webinar: A Practical Guide to Cluster Development

Online, 21 February, 2017
Is your organization currently using or interested in pursuing clusters as an economic development tool? This special webinar will explore how both established and aspiring cluster initiatives can use The 12 Steps of Cluster Development to guide this process, including topics such as cluster identification, developing short- and long-term strategies for success, launching an organization, and measuring and evaluating impact. We will also discuss how public agencies (especially at the state and local levels) can support cluster development, and potential future opportunities for cluster development in the United States.

Webinar: Smart Specialization – Evidence Based Implementation in the EU

Online, 28 February, 2017
The Webinar will address the emerging concept of Smart Specialization, a place-based growth strategy that has been now fully integrated in the European Union’s Regional development policy and is already an ex-ante condition for all EU countries planning to get Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) support for research and innovation investment. More than 120 Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization are currently in place and being deployed on the ground. The Webinar will present the European experience so far and will demonstrate the very successful case study of smart specialization implementation in the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It will attempt to reveal concepts, strategies and expectations targeting innovation for local growth and jobs.

Innovation Policy in International Perspective

Toronto, Canada, 21 March, 2017
Professor Mark Zachary Taylor, drawing on his acclaimed book The Politics of Innovation: Why Some Countries Are Better Than Others at Science and Technology? will open the panel with a keynote address  setting the international stage for innovation policy. He will be followed by Dr. Daniel Munro, responding to his arguments and positioning Canada within the global league of innovative nations. Concluding the panel will be Sagi Dagan, reflecting on these arguments from a practitioner’s perspective by sharing the experience of what is arguably the most successful innovation agency in the world since the 1970s. Professor Dan Breznitz will moderate the panel, which will conclude with lessons for Canada as the federal government launches its new Innovation Agenda.

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.

Data Innovation Day 2017: Building Smart Cities for Tomorrow’s Data Economy

Brussels, Belgium, 28 March, 2017
Europe consistently ranks high as having some of the best cities in the world. However, its successes today are the results of past investments and strategic planning. The advent of smart cities has created a new inflection point in the development trajectory of cities. Join ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation to discuss the future of smart cities and steps policymakers should take to lead the way in their development.

CFP: ZEW/MaCCI Conference on the Economics of Innovation and Patenting

Mannheim, Germany, 15-16 May, 2017
The Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation (MaCCI) are pleased to announce their 7th conference on the economics of innovation and patenting. The goal of the conference is to present new research and to stimulate discussion between international researchers conducting related empirical and theoretical analysis. As a novelty, we will organize a special plenary paper speed dating session. Theoretical, empirical, and policy-oriented contributions from all areas of the economics of innovation and patenting are welcome.

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

Torino, Italy, 18-19 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.

CFP: Creating and Communicating Knowledge, Practices, and Values: Exploring the Dynamics of Local Anchors and Trans-Local Communities

London, UK, 29 August – 1 September, 2017
Economic geographers have long been interested in the links between local-global economic dynamics (e.g. Bathelt et al., 2004). Within this sphere of interest, focus has been given to so-called ‘local anchors’ as the nodes through which regional, national, or global relations and dynamics function and occur. Specific physical places may, for instance, serve as local anchors for social movements (e.g. the maker movement) (Toombs and Bardzell, 2014), trans-local scenes (e.g. in music) (Hauge and Hracs, 2010; Lange, 2007), global knowledge communities (e.g. communities of enthusiasts) (Brinks and Ibert, 2015; Müller and Ibert, 2015) or global processes of value creation (Berthoin Antal et al., 2015; Pike, 2009; Power and Hauge, 2006). We  observe a wide spectrum of local anchors that help to disseminate ideas and knowledge, enable and encourage participation in specific practices (e.g. tinkering, designing, building), serve as (temporary) productions sites (e.g. local workshops for music) and facilitate curation and consumption (e.g. pop-up stores, record stores). Despite this conceptual variety, these anchors are physical spaces through which economic and social activities occur and that actors utilize for creating objects, artifacts and products and to generate and disseminate ideas, brands and values. These local spaces have also drawn the attention of policymakers striving to capitalize upon local-global dynamics. However, very often these spaces are regarded overly optimistically and lack a critical reflection as to how they actually contribute to social, cultural and / or economic value creation. This session aims to nuance our understanding of the interplay between ‘the global’ and ‘the local’ as well as ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ spaces. We aim to explore the role of local anchors within local neighborhoods and scenes as well as trans-local scenes, communities and virtual networks. More specifically, the session aims to consider the diversity and specificity of local anchors which may comprise craft collectives, performance venues, records stores (Hracs and Jansson, 2016), coworking / maker/ hacker spaces / open creative labs (Merkel, 2015; Schmidt et al., 2014; Schmidt et al., 2016), universities (Cooke, 2011) and knowledge production sites (Power and Malmberg, 2008).

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.

CFP: 12th Regional Innovation Policies Conference RIP2017

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 26-27 October, 2017
The 12th Regional Innovation Policies Conference (RIP2017) will be held at the University of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia (Spain). The conference will be organized by the ICEDE Research Group and it will take place on the 26th and 27th of October 2017 at the Faculty of Economics and Business, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of economics studies in Galicia. The conference is a venue for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers with an interest in regional innovation, regional development and innovation policy. Participants are encouraged to submit papers on topics in relation to the conference themes listed in the full call for papers.

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