The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 364

News from the IPL

ANNOUNCEMENTS Launching a $50M Effort to Prepare Seekers for the “Future of Work”

Tony Romm, Recode
Google recently announced a new $50 million initiative to study and prepare “for the changing nature of work,” beginning with investments in the U.S. and Europe to help train job seekers and improve the working conditions for those already employed. The commitment comes by way of, the search giant’s philanthropic organization. Its president, Jacquelline Fuller, unveiled the campaign in a blog post this morning, stressing the goal is to “make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emerging — some of which we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.” To start, some of the new money is heading to groups like Code for America, as looks to “support organizations who are driving innovative approaches to connecting job seekers and employers”. The search giant’s initiative also has backed Social Finance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that will study the cost effectiveness and success of youth-training programs.

Chicago’s West Side Tech Scene Gets a Google Boost

Oscar Perry Abello, Next City
A key hub for the city of Chicago’s Tech Plan is getting a huge boost at a crucial moment for the organization. Blue1647 was established in 2013 to provide opportunities for individuals from marginalized and underserved communities to participate in innovation and tech development. The nonprofit recently received a $500,000 grant from, the Internet giant’s philanthropy arm, reports ChicagoInno. The grant comes just as the tech hub and co-working space moves into a new 250,000-square-foot location at Pilsen’s Lacuna Artist Lofts. The money and the new space will go toward boosting Blue1647’s STEM and computer science offerings, including Code Chicago web development workshops, tech organization Latina Girls Code, and Paige & Paxton, which provides an introduction to STEM for kids under age 8. Blue1647 also hosts Minecraft coding boot camps targeted at youth.

Maine Voters Approve $50 Million in Tech: Why it Matters to All of Us

Dan Berglund, SSTI
Maine voters approved a special referendum on June 13 that will issue $50 million in bonds to fund investment in research, development and commercialization in the state’s seven targeted technology sectors. The Maine Technology Institute will distribute $45 million of the funds for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades. The remaining $5 million will be used to recapitalize the Small Enterprise Growth Fund to create jobs and economic growth by lending to or investing in qualifying small businesses. The issue passed with 61 percent (63,468) voting in favor and 38 percent (39,549) voting against it (the remaining 1 percent were blank) and passed in every county in Maine. It is the latest in a string of referendum wins in Maine and a reminder to all of us of the political appeal that investing in technology has.

Editor's Pick

The Future of Global Value Chains

Koen De Backer and Dorothee Flaig, OECD
The rapid growth of global value chains (GVCs) has been an important driver of globalisation during the past decades. But the international fragmentation of production appears to have lost momentum and GVCs seem to have stalled in recent years. The world economy is facing a number of structural shifts that may dramatically change the outlook of GVCs in the coming years. The empirical evidence evaluating the potential impact of these shifts however largely lags behind, which makes these discussions somewhat speculative. By describing how these shifts will likely evolve over the next 10 to 15 years and calculating their effects on global production and trade, the scenarios in this paper offers new – empirically funded – insights on the future of GVCs.

Innovation Policy

Blockchain and Economic Development: Hype vs. Reality

Michael Pisa and Matt Juden, Center for Global Development
The latest paper from experts at the Center for Global Development addresses the economic development potential of blockchain technology including its potential and existing hurdles to its growth. After explaining blockchain technology’s nuts and bolts, the authors highlight technology areas that would benefit from blockchain technology and the benefits it could offer with wider adoption, including facilitating faster and cheaper payments; providing a secure digital infrastructure for verifying identity; securing property rights; and, making transactions more secure and transparent.

Modernizing Government’s Approach to Transportation and Land Use Data: Challenges and Opportunities

Adie Tomer and Ranjitha Shivaram, Brookings
In the fields of transportation and land use planning, the public sector has long taken the leading role in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data. Often, public data sets drawn from traveler diaries, surveys, and supply-side transportation maps were the only way to understand how people move around in the built environment – how they get to work, how they drop kids off at school, where they choose to work out or relax, and so on. But, change is afoot: today, there are not only new data providers, but also new types of data. Cellphones, GPS trackers, and other navigation devices offer real-time demand-side data. However, integrating all this data into how we actually plan and build communities—including the transportation systems that move all of us and our goods—will not be easy. There are several core challenges. Using a mix of primary research and expert interviews, this report catalogs emerging data sets related to transportation and land use, and assesses the ease by which they can be integrated into how public agencies manage the built environment. It finds that there is reason for the hype; we have the ability to know more about how humans move around today than at any time in history. But, despite all the obvious opportunities, not addressing core challenges will limit public agencies’ ability to put all that data to use for the collective good.

Ensuring American Manufacturing Leadership Through Next-Generation Supply Chains

MForesight: Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight
This report investigates a growing multi-sector focus on Supply Chain Optimization (SCO) — tools and techniques for integrated design, engineering and production, enhanced information sharing, and more collaborative decision-making between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers. Restoring America’s competitive edge requires a new approach to managing suppliers — one in which all players are connected, collaborative, and focused on maximizing shared value. The rise of the “smart supply chain” isn’t just about boosting quality and efficiency. It’s about supporting the resurgence of the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem and national leadership in global innovation.

Enabling Customer-Driven Innovation in the Federal Government

Robert D. Atkinson, Daniel Castro, and Stephen Ezell, ITIF
Improving federal enterprise performance is a perennial topic, from Eisenhower’s Hoover Commission, to Reagan’s Grace Commission, to Clinton’s Reinventing Government, to Bush’s E-Gov Initiatives, to Obama’s innovation efforts. But one major thing is different today. The challenge from the postwar period to the 1980s was principally for the federal enterprise to copy management structures and innovations in large Fortune 500 companies, something that was possible because the latter were bureaucratic structures themselves. Today, the challenge for all large organizations, public and private, is to become more flexible and to use technology to transform themselves. This is hard in big corporations; it is much harder in the federal enterprise. But that does not mean the task is insurmountable. It only means that much more significant change is needed: more than a few innovation pilot programs. Rather, the challenge now is to transform the entire federal enterprise through innovation. This report first discusses the nature of innovation and why it is important in government. It then discusses the unique challenges facing the federal enterprise. Finally, it lays out actionable recommendations the federal government should adopt to transform itself through innovation.

Clusters & Regions

REPORT: British Columbia-Led Digital Technology Supercluster – Strengths and Capabilities

The purpose of this report is to serve as a key input to the national discussion on creating world-leading superclusters and partnerships in Canada. The report, a combination of publicly available sources and interviews with industry leaders, highlights the fundamental attributes of BC’s strengths and capabilities that position the province to become a global digital technology supercluster. Looking ahead, BC can create a global supercluster and give Canada a globally competitive advantage by applying its strengths in digital technology to industries and creating the digital jobs of the future.

Statistics & Indicators

R&D Index: Illinois’ R&D Landscape and the Path Forward

Illinois Science & Technology Coalition
Research and development (R&D) is the lifeblood of innovation. Universities, corporations, state and federal agencies, laboratories, and nonprofits all utilize R&D to advance scientific discovery and generate innovation that creates jobs and improves quality of life. This issue of the Index comes at a pivotal moment for R&D in the United States. Although the positive return on investment (ROI) for R&D is well understood, funding for R&D is currently under threat —both nationally and in Illinois. To understand Illinois’ place in the national R&D landscape, this index benchmarks the state’s performance against peer states, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for growth.[3] Our analysis uses several measurements to capture the inputs and outputs of R&D in the state. To capture the inputs of R&D, the analysis focuses on expenditures, which provide the most direct measurement of volume in the state. The outputs of R&D can be more difficult to quantify. In this analysis, the authors use both patents and academic articles as proxy measurements for the innovation output of R&D. Together these measurements provide insight into R&D at Illinois’ universities, within the business community, and at the state’s federal labs while also presenting an overview of the state’s growth relative to peer states across the country.

Policy Digest

Towards Cohesion Policy 4.0: Structural Transformation and Inclusive Growth

John Bachtler et al., Regional Studies Association
As the debate on the direction of the EU and the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework intensifies, there are important questions about how the EU can best deploy its budgetary resources to meet the challenges facing the Union. The continuing effects of the financial, economic and migration crises are associated with reduced confidence and trust in democratic institutions and politicians, and a rise in populism, threatening the unity of the EU. A major cause is the unequal impact of globalization and technological change on different parts of the EU. This paper prepared for the 7th Cohesion Forum argues that the EU not only needs to accelerate sustainable growth but also to resume convergence so that all parts of the EU are able to exploit the opportunities from the globalization of trade and technological change.  It proposes a new EU strategy for sustainable growth and structural transformation, setting out a common policy vision and a coherent framework for all EU policies – through regulatory reform, directly managed and territorial policies with a collective focus on improving the ecosystems for structural change at different levels.

The challenge of economic change for Europe The past three decades have been characterized by trade liberalization, the rise of global value chains and global production networks. The integration of emerging countries has challenged the EU’s attractiveness as a production location, because of import competition and off-shoring. Further, technological change and digital transformation (the fourth production revolution) is associated with jobless growth and concerns that the EU is falling behind technologically. Europe generally has a strong position with respect to advances in technology, value added, productivity, profitability and profits, but there are important questions about its technological leadership.

There are major opportunities from structural change that the EU is well-placed to exploit. The cost advantages of some emerging economies are eroding, labour costs are becoming a less critical factor in location decisions, and some supply chains are being shortened to ensure greater control. These trends do not guarantee the renewed competitiveness of developed economies but depend on the ability of developed economies to effect the necessary structural transformation. Structural change across the EU requires a different policy and institutional focus on ‘ecosystems’ of open, interconnected networks of stakeholders, cooperating through strategic partnerships able to respond rapidly and flexibly to technological, market and social changes. Disruptive innovation and creativity require multidisciplinarity and open models of collaboration. The support of environment for such ecosystems will unavoidably need to be tailored to specific national, regional or even local contexts. Policy packages need to be integrated and coordinated, delivered at a national, regional and local levels, while being adapted to the needs of different territories.

Structural transformation and productivity challenges for the EU
The current economic situation in the EU is characterized by a persistent low labour productivity growth, at below one percent per year. Research suggests that the main source of the productivity slowdown is not a lower rate of innovation by the most advanced firms, sectors or regions, but rather a slowing of the pace at which innovations spread throughout the economy. At regional level, there is an increasing productivity gap between leading ‘frontier’ regions and lagging regions, the gap that has grown by 56 percent between 1995 and 2014. Consequently, most of the inequalities across EU countries are now accounted by differences within rather than between countries. Thus, while EU market and economic integration has been a successful convergence machine for countries, these gains have not been distributed equally inside each country. These differences cannot be addressed by compensatory policies relying on income transfers. The adaptation to the specific shocks on regional economies generated by globalization and market integration require differentiated (or place-based) strategies. With many frontier regions being capital cities or other major urban areas, there is a risk of increasing economic and social disconnection between the ‘motors’ of EU growth and other regions.

Developing a new policy framework for structural transformation
Renewing the successful European economic growth model depends on its ability to reduce the increasing productivity gap between ‘frontier regions’ and other parts of the EU, in particular the rate at which the diffusion of innovation and structural change takes place. Research shows that there is untapped potential to increase country-wide productivity by improving the performance of regions.

The challenge for EU and Member State policymakers is to develop or adapt policy frameworks and strategies that will stimulate sustainable growth, in a manner that ensures greater inclusiveness, especially in access to employment and capacity for entrepreneurship. This demands a more granular approach to structural policy, tailored better to the specific conditions of the different types of regions and communities across the EU. Different strategies are needed for frontier regions, intermediate regions (some catching up but others only keeping pace) and lagging regions.

Existing EU strategies – from Lisbon/Gothenburg to Europe 2020 – have been only partially successful, with limited results in relation to the scale of the challenge. Notwithstanding certain achievements, strategies have been over-ambitious in relation to the resources available, the deficits in governance (especially on coherence and the coordination of policies) and the performance of interventions. Importantly, policy responses have given inadequate recognition of the spatial unevenness of current and development needs and challenges for economic growth and development in the EU.

Looking forward, any new EU strategic approach needs to recognize the lessons from the past and be realistic about what can be achieved. With relatively limited budgetary resources at EU level, the EU will need to establish the following principles for a new EU strategy.

  • Focus on a limited number of key priorities that collectively promote accelerated innovation, structural transformation and inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.
  • Encourage more effective and efficient governance to ensure institutional coordination, and integration horizontally across the policy domains at EU, Member State and regional levels, and vertically between EU, national and regional levels.
  • Promote structural reforms and investment in institutional capacity to optimize the conditions for reform and investment, particularly in the regulation of labour markets and other areas;
  • Ensure territorial and social inclusion, by taking account of territorial differences in the formulation and implementation of policies.

The critical requirement is a coherent, consistent and mutually enforcing policy framework. Sectoral policies cannot deliver on a new EU agenda without integrated territorial policy packages. Equally, integrated territorial policy approaches cannot deliver prosperity and inclusive growth in the regions without well-designed sectoral and structural policies and reforms.


FinTech Canada Conference

Toronto, 18 August, 2017
Please join us at FinTech Canada, a National FinTech Conference for an engaging event covering FinTech, RegTech, Innovation, AML, Smart Contracts, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Startups, Financial Inclusion and Payments.

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).

SSTI Annual Conference: Building Bridges for a Better Future

Washington, D.C., 13-15 September, 2017
“We chose the theme after hearing from our members and others in the field about the importance of reaching outside of our traditional networks and imagining what the future may hold for those in the innovation economy,” said Dan Berglund, SSTI president and CEO. “We’re excited to hold the conference in the nation’s capital, and share the stories of successes, along with the challenges, that stakeholders in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship are facing.” Conference attendees will have the opportunity to gather on Capitol Hill, relate stories that are important to them, hear about best practices from SSTI Creating a Better Future award winners, engage with their peers in the field, and make new connections through the many sessions that will be offered. 

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.

Canadian Science Policy Conference

Ottawa, 1-3 November, 2017
As the nation celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday, CSPC also invites you get engaged with CSPC 2017 and celebrate the science and innovation policy accomplishments together. We invite you to submit your suggestions and event proposals.

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.