The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 357

News from the IPL


Vector Institute: AI Research to put Canadian companies in the big leagues

University of Toronto
Artificial intelligence and deep learning will dramatically change our lives – and Canadian companies need to lead the charge to stay at the forefront of the technology’s commercial and economic success. The University of Toronto, the Ontario and federal governments and some of Canada’s biggest companies are hoping the newly created Vector Institute will help Toronto and Canada solidify their claim as a global leader in artificial intelligence.

Editor's Pick

“Innovation Orchards”: Helping Tech Start-Ups Scale

Peter L. Singer and William B. Bonvillian, ITIF
Federal support for R&D has fallen precipitously in recent years as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), and because of this, the United States risks slipping significantly as a global innovation competitor. More federal investment is needed to avoid falling behind. One way to do that is to focus more effectively on spurring innovation commercialization—and one emerging idea is the creation of “innovation orchards.” MIT President Rafael Reif coined the term “innovation orchard” in 2015, proposing a new mechanism to address a growing gap in the U.S. innovation system. An “orchard” would bring together university, industry, and potentially government partners to create a space that provides start-ups with the know-how, access to technology, equipment, and bridge funding to scale up their new technologies. With existing gaps in innovation financing, the aim is to leverage strengths in a region’s innovation system to help start-ups develop advanced prototypes, then demonstrate, test, and bring them to the manufacturing stage. In effect, the orchard would substitute space f

Innovation Policy

Inspiring Unfettered Innovation

The Internet of Things (sometimes called the Internet of Everything) is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: a technological shift that is happening faster than previous industrial revolutions and will impact how we live, work and interact. The Internet Age brought communications into our homes and our hands through mobile technology. The Internet of Things (IoT) is putting communications into everyday items through the extension of the internet to the physical world through rooted embedded technology to enable machine-tomachine communications, enabling devices to signal and elicit responses, transmit and analyze data. At the same as devices are “talking”, other technological capabilities are combining to make this shift significant: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is enabling machines and computers to carry out more complex tasks; robotics advancements are enabling greater automation of jobs, facilities and organizations; and Cloud Computing is increasing access to high speed, complex infrastructure with greater capabilities while reducing IT costs. The impact is expected to be significant: Cisco has estimated the global IoT market to be as large as $19 Trillion by 2020.1 As hyperconnected devices increase the linkages across our society and country, the globe is getting smaller and competition is increasing for share of the global market. Organizations that are ready for the IoT shift will be leveraging these technologies to reduce costs, increase productivity and use their data towards better business intelligence. Amidst all these technological shifts reminiscent of the emergence of the internet, the organizations that can capture data in near real-time and orient operations in response effectively will prosper.

The Productivity Paradox

Ryan Avent, Medium
People are worried about robots taking jobs. Driverless cars are around the corner. Restaurants and shops increasingly carry the option to order by touchscreen. Google’s clever algorithms provide instant translations that are remarkably good. The productivity paradox — why productivity growth has slowed despite great digital advances — is a frequent topic of discussion among technologists. The theory espoused by tech pessimists is that all our new tools don’t live up to the hype. This post offers a more nuanced take through the lens of economic history. Avent argues that new technologies haven’t followed the same path as transformative ones like the steam engine because right now labor is too cheap. In other words, economic inequality and wage stagnation don’t just hurt those on the wrong end of the equation, they hurt technological advance itself.

Understanding U.S. Productivity Trends from the Bottom-Up

Joseph Parilla and Mark Muro, Brookings
As the U.S. economy continues to chug along towards full employment, the nation’s slowing growth in labor productivity – the amount of goods and services a worker produces per hour of work – is a lingering economic concern, as it remains a critical source of prosperity.  Since 2004, productivity has been expanding at its slowest clip in the post-war era. While there is broad acknowledgement that the slowdown is occurring, its causes—from declining breakthroughs in major technologies, to inefficiencies in major sectors like education, healthcare, and housing, to simply a mismeasurement issue—remain the subject of much debate. What is missing from this debate, however, is a serious exploration of productivity growth at the local level. In light of that, this short report provides metro-level productivity statistics by generating metro level output figures and relevant metro employment data. The report finds massive variation across the U.S. economy.

Which Productivity Puzzle: Asking the Wrong Question

William H. Janeway, Medium
Productivity is the key driver of economic growth. It is the force that increases output of goods and services beyond what increased inputs of labor, capital and other factors of production like energy can account for. So growth in productivity increases income per head, the size of the pie available for distribution. And, as conventionally defined, the “Productivity Puzzle” is the unexplained decline in the growth of productivity observable over the past decade, through the recovery from the Great Recession triggered by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. In this post William Janeway argues that looking at average productivity misses the point and that we should be examining where we are in the diffusion of digital technologies.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

The Next in Tech: 25 Emerging Startup Hubs – How the Startup Economy is Spreading and How it Can be Accelerated

Michael Mandel, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI)
All across the country, entrepreneurs are founding and building new companies that use technology in innovative ways. The American startup ecosystem — the envy of the world — has spread outside of the coasts and high-profile tech hubs, such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York City, to other parts of the country. Startup activity is happening everywhere in cities and towns across America. More than that, the startup culture of entrepreneurship, fueled by scalable technology, is spreading as well. Around the country, an increasing number of companies are describing themselves as “startups” when they advertise for workers. This paper explores the importance of the startup economy to job growth, not just in traditional technology hubs, but also in metro areas around the nation. This paper finds promising evidence that dynamism is returning to the economy.  Based on this analysis of government data, the rate of net establishment formation started to accelerate in 2015 and continued through 2016. To further clarify the spread of economic dynamism and startup culture, this paper develops a new measure of the intensity of local startup ecosystems.  The new measure, the Metro Startup Economy Index, identifies the top ten traditional tech hubs, including San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, and Austin. The new index also allows researchers to identify vibrant startup ecosystems in  25 “Next in Tech” metro areas, including Washington D.C., Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Portland, and beyond.  Many of these metro areas are not typically associated with startup growth but, in reality, have come to embrace startup culture — and they have the jobs to show for it.

CLUSTERS3: Leveraging Cluster Policy for Successful Implementation of RIS3

Interreg Europe
Through cooperation, SMEs address the challenge of dimension which enables them to achieve global competitiveness, sustainable growth and development. Cooperation among SMEs, large companies and the Regional Innovation System within a given cluster or cross-cluster, is a major driver enhancing innovation and internationalization capabilities. Cluster organizations are the major facilitators for cooperation among SMEs, and due to their multiplier effect, the target of this project is to improve cluster policies and the performance of cluster organizations; keeping in mind their important role in the insertion of SMEs in global value chains and in leveraging the successful implementation of RIS3. CLUSTERS3 aims to share baseline information on cluster policy learning in 4 years journey based on a strong multidisciplinary partnership representing different realities and innovation systems (9 partners, 7 EU regions). 

Growing Interest in National Urban Policies

Gregory Scruggs, Citiscope
In the next decade, could half of the world’s countries have a national policy that guides urban development? They could, if a coalition of international organizations has anything to say about it. Getting “national urban policies” on the books is a major priority in the aftermath of last year’s United Nations Habitat III conference on urbanization. This year, it will prove pivotal in the effort to create momentum around a government framework that, despite its name, doesn’t always mean a single law written down on paper. As such, these policies can’t easily be copied and pasted from one country to the next. Now, UN-Habitat is working with Cities Alliance and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to build up focus on and understanding of national urban policies around the world. They’re hoping half of all countries will adopt national urban policies by 2025. This post highlights the challenges and opportunities of developing national urban policies.

Statistics & Indicators

In Good Health: The Growth Potential of NYC’s Digital Health Sector

Center for an Urban Future (CUF)
This new report details the rapid rise of New York City’s digital health sector. The study shows that New York now boasts nearly 100 digital health companies—up from just a handful seven years ago—and thousands of jobs. Moreover, it finds that the digital health sector is producing many of the city’s fastest growing tech firms. The report identifies six digital health companies in the five boroughs with 300 or more jobs. Combined, these six firms employ more than 5,000 people. The report is the latest study in the CUF’s Middle Class Jobs Project, a research initiative supported by Fisher Brothers and Winston C. Fisher, that is detailing opportunities for middle income job creation in New York. It points out that New York is now the nation’s clear number two hub for digital health companies, behind only the San Francisco Bay Area. It also shows that New York City-based digital health companies raised $908 million in VC funding in 2016, up from $93 million in 2010.

The National-Level Impact of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which is part of the National Institute of Technology (NIST), contracted with the Upjohn Institute to conduct an analysis of the overall effect of MEP projects on the U.S. economy. MEP centers provide assistance primarily to small and medium-size manufacturing businesses to help them improve their productivity. Each year, NIST MEP surveys their clients using an independent third-party vendor to obtain a reading of the impact of the services provided. This study’s purpose is to use the client-reported outcomes to estimate the overall effect of MEPs on the U.S. economy. Using the REMI model, Upjohn staff forecast the indirect and induced effects of the reported increase in jobs, sales, cost savings, and investments by MEP clients. Comparing forecasts with and without MEP activities included, the study found that the $130 million invested in MEP during FY2016 generated $1.13 billion in federal personal income tax, which is an 8.7:1 return to the federal treasury. 

Moneytree Report Explorer

PwC via SSTI Weekly Digest
Once again, more than three-quarters of U.S. venture capital (VC) dollars went to companies in California, New York and Massachusetts in 2016, according to data from this data exploration tool. Approximately 53.3 percent of all VC capital went to California companies, down nearly 4.4 percent from the states peak in 2014 (57.7) and down 3.9 percent from 2016. While California’s share declined, both Massachusetts and New York saw increases in their share of VC dollars invested.


Policy Digest

Canadian Budget 2017: A Strong Focus on Innovation, Skills, and Clusters

Government of Canada
The 2017 Budget, released this week, includes several key provisions to increase innovation, productivity, and develop the skills of Canadians to better compete in the global marketplace. 

Innovation and Skills Plan
The Innovation and Skills Plan is an ambitious effort to make Canada a world leading centre for innovation, to help create more good, well-paying jobs, and help strengthen and grow the middle class. Canada has always been strengthened by its rich natural resources, but is equally blessed with a smart, diverse, creative and well-educated population. It’s time to invest in people and in the added value that they bring to the economy.


Budget 2017 proposes to establish Innovation Canada, a new platform that will help to consolidate and simplify dozens of innovation programs situated across many departments. This will make it easier for Canadian innovators to access and benefit from Government-led innovation programs, reducing legwork and paperwork, providing more timely and relevant access to services, and ultimately putting more money in the hands of Canadian innovators to grow their businesses and create jobs. The Government will initiate a whole-of-government review of business innovation programs to ensure they are effectively geared to support Canada’s innovators in turning their ideas into thriving businesses.


Clusters—dense areas of business activity that contain large and small companies, post-secondary institutions and specialized talent and infrastructure—energize economies and act as engines of growth. They create jobs, encourage knowledge sharing, drive business specialization and help to attract “anchor” companies from around the world. Successful clusters like the ones in Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor contribute significantly to both regional and national economies.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest up to $950 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to be provided on a competitive basis in support of a small number of business-led innovation superclusters that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth. The competition will launch in 2017 and focus on superclusters that enhance Canada’s global competitiveness by focusing on highly innovative industries such as clean technology, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, health/bio-sciences, clean resources and agri-food, as well as infrastructure and transportation.


To support the continued growth of Canada’s innovative companies, Budget 2017 proposes to make available up to an additional $400 million through the Business Development Bank of Canada on a cash basis over three years, beginning in 2017–18, for a new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative that will increase late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs (late-stage venture capital is typically offered to young, established businesses with sales and revenue, in order to help the businesses grow).

With funds leveraged from the private sector, and depending on the proposals received, this investment could inject around $1.5 billion into Canada’s innovation capital market.


The global market for clean technology has surpassed $1 trillion per year and will continue to grow over the next decade. As the world increasingly seeks out more sustainable and renewable sources of energy, and new technologies to improve the quality of air and water, Canadian companies can lead the way. Our clean technology companies are well positioned to compete and win in this large and growing global market.

Through its participation in Mission Innovation, Canada has committed to double its investments in clean energy research, development and demonstration over the next five years. The investments announced in Budget 2017 support this commitment, and will help Canada to reduce carbon pollution while creating good, well-paying jobs in communities all across Canada.


The global economy is becoming increasingly digital, and the world is moving towards more sustainable ways of feeding people and providing energy to those who need it. Budget 2017 supports innovation in key growth industries—clean technology, digital and agri-food—with new measures that will improve access to financing, encourage investment, support the demonstration of technologies and build the capacity necessary for Canadians to take advantage of growth opportunities and create good, well-paying jobs.

Budget 2017 includes a particular focus on the clean technology sector, proposing more than $2.2 billion, on a cash basis, to support clean technology research, development, demonstration and adoption as well as to accelerate the growth of clean technology companies. This includes making available nearly $1.4 billion in new financing on a cash basis over three years, starting in 2017–18, through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada


16th Annual Re$earch Money Conference: An Opportunity to Excel – Advancing Canada’s New Innovation Agenda

Ottawa, 4-5 April, 2017
Be a part of the discussion of federal Budget 2017 and the Innovation Agenda at the 16th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference. Speakers and panelists include over 30 innovation thought leaders from industry, finance, policymaking and academia. An Opportunity to Excel will provide a unique opportunity in an intimate gathering of up to 150 attendees to grapple with these issues. Together we’ll explore which action areas are addressed in Budget 2017 and which ones will need to be tackled in future budgets. As a group, we’ll look at how we – as stakeholders in Canada’s innovation ecosystem – can contribute to moving the Agenda forward in the coming year.

Un-locking the Federal Budget for Innovation

Toronto, 12 April, 2017
David Watters (President of the Global Advantage Consulting Group) will be joined bu Ilse Treurnicht (CEO, MaRS Discovery District) and David Wolfe (Co-Director, Innovation Policy Lab) to discuss the innovation stimulating components of the Canadian federal budget.

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.

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.

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.