The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 362

News from the IPL


Government of Canada Launches $50 Million Coding Program for Young Canadians

young Canadians will get the skills they need for the well-paying jobs of the future as a result of a $50-million program that gives them the opportunity to learn coding and other digital skills. The Government of Canada recently launched CanCode, a new program that, over the next two years, will give 500,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12 the opportunity to learn the in-demand skills that will prepare them for future jobs. The program also aims to encourage more young women, Indigenous Canadians and other under-represented groups to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. In addition, it will equip 500 teachers across the country with the training and tools to teach digital skills and coding. Many jobs today rely on the ability of Canadian workers to solve problems using digital skills. The demand for such skills will only intensify as the number of software and data companies increases—whether they sell music online or design self-driving cars. That’s why the government is investing in the skills that prepare young Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow. This program is part of the Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

BX Challenge Supports Diverse Entrepreneurs in the Chicago Area

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has announced its first cohort of eight organizations in the Chicago-area entrepreneurship challenge. Named the BX Challenge, up to $3 million in grant funding will be provided over three years to innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in the Chicago area. The selected programs will serve underserved populations, including communities of color, women, veterans, and immigrants. The inaugural cohort includes SSTI member UI Labs, which was awarded $100,000 to create a partnership between City Digital and Colony 5 to help community based start-ups tackle urban challenges and explore ideas on smart city developments through entrepreneurship.

Editor's Pick

Internet of Things (IoT): Status and Implications of an Increasingly Connected World

U.S. Government Accountability Office
The rapid, global proliferation of IoT devices has generated significant interest. In light of the current and potential effects of the IoT on consumers, businesses, and policy makers, GAO was asked to conduct a technology assessment of the IoT. This report provides an introduction to the IoT and describes what is known about current and emerging IoT technologies, and the implications of their use.

Innovation Policy

Building an Innovation-Maximizing Global Economic and Trade System

Stephen Ezell and Adams Nager, ITIF
Policymakers need to better understand and more aggressively push back when other countries employ policies that try to advance their own interests at the expense of global innovation. The world’s leaders also need to articulate a more robust vision of commonly shared global prosperity—predicated chiefly through substantial increases in global productivity levels and greater output of innovative products, services, processes, and technologies.

U.S. Manufacturing Decline and the Rise of New Production and Innovation Paradigms

William B. Bonvillian, OECD
Between 2000 and 2010, US manufacturing experienced a nightmare. The number of manufacturing jobs in the United States, which had been relatively stable at 17 million since 1965, declined by one third in that decade, falling by 5.8 million to below 12 million in 2010 (returning to just 12.3 million in 2016). Certainly, the 2007–08 recession accelerated the disruption, but the causes were also structural, not simply financial. There was trouble with capital investment, output, productivity, and trade deficits. Contrary to what many believed, productivity gains due to robotics or automation have not been the cause of manufacturing employment’s decline; the sector has been hollowing out. The question is: can the US manufacturing sector spring back? A core idea now being explored in the US is that new production paradigms could transform the sector. We have seen these new paradigms before: application of steam power in the UK, development of interchangeable machine-made parts, then mass production in the US, and the creation of quality manufacturing in Japan. The United States is now competing with low-wage, low-cost producers, particularly in Asia. Could the economy use its still strong innovation system to develop new production paradigms to drive up production efficiency and drive down costs so it can better compete?

What’s Now and Next in Analytics, AI, and Automation

McKinsey Global Institute
Rapid technological advances in digitization and data and analytics have been reshaping the business landscape, supercharging performance, and enabling the emergence of new business innovations and new forms of competition. At the same time, the technology itself continues to evolve, bringing new waves of advances in robotics, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), and especially machine learning. Together they amount to a step change in technical capabilities that could have profound implications for business, for the economy, and more broadly, for society.

Clusters & Regions

Communitech @20: Back Where it All Began

This article reflects on the foundation and first twenty years of Communitech, Waterloo’s technology association and a major player in the region’s economic development. Twenty years after it launched, Communitech now fosters a community of more than 1,000 tech companies, from startups to rapidly growing mid-size companies and large global players. Waterloo Region’s startup density is now second in the world only to California’s Silicon Valley. In 2016, the region added 370 new startups and $341.6 million in private capital investment.

Statistics & Indicators

OECD Research and Development Expenditure in Industry 2016

This 2016 edition of OECD Research and Development Expenditure in Industry provides statistical data on R&D expenditure broken down by industrial and service sectors. Data are presented in current and constant USD PPP values. Coverage is provided for 31 OECD countries and four non-member economies.

Index of State Dynamism

Economic Innovation Group
Dynamism is a broad term that refers to the scale and rate of an economy’s changes across a variety of measures. Since the 1990s, the United States has seen a pervasive decline in dynamism. The study found the Great Recession accelerated the extent of the decline, with the average state losing one-third of its dynamism. The EIG authors find that 10 states account for more half of the national increase in companies from 1992 to 2014.  The pool of states with the most growth in companies is a radically different group than the one comprising our most populous states, however. The index reveals the Great Lakes Region – home to big states such as Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, – experienced the lowest levels of dynamism. States in the Lower Mississippi Valley and New England also exhibit lower dynamism than most of the rest of the country. The top performing states were all west of the Mississippi River with the exception of third-best Florida. The others, in order of ranking, were Nevada, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Texas and California. EIG also finds that dynamic state economies were generally associated with less manufacturing intensity, a younger demographic profile, a higher foreign-born population share, and a larger share of the population living in a prosperous zip code.

2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship series offers in-depth measures of the people and businesses that contribute to America’s overall economic dynamism. The series consists of reports and accompanying interactive data visualizations presenting entrepreneurial trends nationally, at the state level, and for the 40 largest metropolitan areas The Index, an early indicator of new entrepreneurship in the United States, inched up in 2016, after sharp increases two years in a row. The share of new entrepreneurs who started businesses to pursue opportunity rather than from necessity reached 86.3 percent, more than 12 percentage points higher than in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession. First-generation immigrants now make up nearly 30 percent of all new U.S. entrepreneurs. The percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs reached its highest level for just the second time in 20 years, climbing steadily from 13.3 percent in 1996.

Policy Digest

Building America’s Skilled Technical Workforce

National Academies Press
The United States needs a skilled technical workforce to remain competitive in the global economy and to ensure that its workers participate in the nation’s economic growth. There are significant opportunities as well as major challenges in this regard. Notably, rigorous evidence indicates that the returns to investments in technical skills in the labor market are strong when students successfully complete their training and gain credentials sought by employers. At the same time, the committee found that in many instances, workers either are not taking advantage of these opportunities or are failing to complete their training programs. To understand why, it is necessary to recognize that in the United States, the responsibility for developing and sustaining a skilled technical workforce is fragmented across many groups, including educators; students; workers; employers; the federal, state, and local governments; labor organizations; and civic associations. For the system to work well, these groups need to be able to coordinate and cooperate successfully with each other. Unlike most other advanced economies, the United States lacks formal mechanisms that require governments, educators, labor representatives, and employers to coordinate on workforce development policies and practices at the national level. This volume includes recommendations designed to help overcome some of the barriers identified within the current framework of federal governance, state implementation, and market incentives.


  1. State and federal policy makers should support and enhance strategies that help students successfully complete their training for the skilled technical workforce. In addition, public policies should ensure that stakeholders, including students, workers, employers, and educational organizations, have the right incentives to improve the quality of technical education and training, encourage experimentation and collaboration, and improve the collection and use of relevant information.
  2. An alliance of industry, trade, academic, and civic associations and labor unions, in cooperation with the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, should organize a nationwide public–private communication campaign to raise awareness of the value of and demand for skilled technical workers and the return on investment for individuals preparing for these careers. This campaign should be customized to recognize local variations in skilled technical workforce education, training, and labor market requirements.
  3. Congress and state legislatures should improve oversight of public policies and resources, highlighting the implementation of reforms such as those called for in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Reforms should be accelerated through targeted incentives.
  4. Congress, state legislatures, and agencies of the federal and state governments should improve the workforce labor market information system (WLMIS), labor market data, and research tools and methods, including by providing funding for such activities.
  5. Federal and state agencies should remove barriers to worker mobility, such as licensing and certification requirements that are not related to public safety. They also should improve labor market information on the changing requirements for skilled technical workers to help reduce imbalances in labor markets and to align workforce development with advances in science and technology.
  6. The Department of Defense should further integrate skills transition into military training rather than treating it as a separate component at the end of the service member’s career. 7. While selected programs and policies from other countries have been adapted in the United States, federal agencies should further study the conditions under which particular attributes of apprenticeships or other programs can be effectively applied more broadly.


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.

GeoInno2018: 4th Geography of Innovation Conference

Barcelona, Spain, January 31st, 2017 – February 2, 2018
The aim of this event is to bring together some of the world’s leading thinkers from a variety of disciplines ranging from economic geography, innovation economics, and regional science, as well as economics and management science, sociology and network theory, and political and planning sciences.

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