The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 365

News from the IPL


Administration R&D Memo Emphasizes Basic Sciences

SSTI Weekly Digest
The White House Office of Management and Budget released a memorandum on R&D priorities that directs agencies to prioritize basic science and lower costs in their FY 2019 budget requests. R&D investments should be made in military superiority, security, prosperity, energy dominance and health. The memo repeatedly encourages officials to identify, and divest of, research areas where industry is ready to make their own investments toward commercial development. Other priorities outlined in the memo direct agencies to consider initiatives that will expand the STEM workforce and implement models to share research facilities with non-federal research entities.

Editor's Pick

Where the Robots Are

Mark Muro, Brookings
Where are the robots, exactly? One answer—if you read the steady flow of doomy articles online — is that automation is everywhere, not just all over the media but (you would have to conclude) thoroughly infiltrating the economy. In that sense, the trend seems omnipresent even as it spawns a kind of free-floating dread amongst the chattering class. Yet, that can’t be right. Almost nothing in today’s economy is evenly distributed, whether it be technologyproductivity, output, or inclusive prosperity. And so it is worth getting more specific about where exactly automation may displace workers — and where not. To parse that out, the Brookings Metro program will later this year release a new state and metro mapping of where the effects of automation may be most disruptive, using some high-quality estimates of the susceptibility of occupations to substitution. In the meantime, though, this report looks at the geography of one particular flashpoint of the automation debate: the use in American regions of industrial robots, defined here as “automatically controlled, reprogrammable machines” capable of replacing labor in a range of tasks.

Innovation Policy

Across the “Second Valley of Death”: Designing Successful Energy Demonstration Projects

David M. Hart, ITIF
Technology demonstration projects pose one of the most difficult challenges in energy-innovation policy. They are necessary to build an adequate portfolio of clean-energy options that have the potential to be deployed globally on a massive scale in the coming decades. They require public investment; private investors will not fully fund them. But the federal government’s track record of selecting, funding, and managing these projects is not encouraging. The title of the leading study of the subject, The Technology Pork Barrel (which was published in 1991 and based on projects carried out in the 1970s and early 1980s), conveys its conclusion: Demonstration projects run the risk of becoming “technological turkeys.” Defying this quarter-century-old conventional wisdom, the Obama administration initiated the first major new energy technology demonstration program in decades. (In the technology maturation process, as described in more detail below, demonstration falls between R&D, which is typically done with grant support at universities or national labs, and commercialization, which may involve tax breaks or government loan guarantees.) The performance of the Department of Energy (DOE) in running this program, which is explored in this paper, is somewhat more encouraging than The Technology Pork Barrel would lead one to expect, particularly in terminating underperforming projects. But the Obama-era experience does not provide full confidence that the challenge will be met by DOE in the future. Significant reform of DOE’s approach to demonstration projects remains in order, and Congress should consider whether to set up a new agency to run some of these projects instead of DOE.

Connecting Community Colleges with Employers: A Toolkit for Building Successful Partnerships

Elizabeth Mann, Brookings
Amid persistent concerns about the well-documented skills gap, community colleges have the potential to provide low-cost, high-quality education and training to students. Robust relationships between colleges and local industry partners are critical to building strong workforce development programs for students. In this context, this toolkit offers practical advice on how community college leaders can take a deliberate approach to communication with potential partners in their community, including local businesses and industry leaders.

How to Implement an Open Data Policy

Sunlight Foundation
The Sunlight Foundation created this living set of open data guidelines to address: what data should be public, how to make data public, and how to implement policy. The provisions are not ranked in order of priority and do not address every question one should consider when preparing a policy, but are a guide to answer the question of what an open data policy can and should do in striving to create a government data ecosystem where open data is the default. Setting the default to open means that the government and parties acting on its behalf will make public information available proactively and that they’ll put that information within reach of the public (online), without barriers for its reuse and consumption. Setting the default to open is about living up to the potential of our information, about looking at comprehensive information management and making determinations that fall in the public interest.

Why Manufacturing Jobs are Worth Saving

The Century Foundation
This report examines prevalent assumptions about the value of a renewed commitment to manufacturing, particularly from the vantage point of the needs of communities that have depended on manufacturing jobs, and on workers who have looked to this sector as a source of a living-wage career. The report begins by reviewing the status of U.S. manufacturing activity today, including how it compares internationally. It looks at shifts in composition of U.S. manufacturing activity, identifying which industries within the sector have been growing, and which have been declining. It examines the debate over what caused the manufacturing decline of the past few decades and whether this decline was inevitable, or reversible, and how important a manufacturing recovery is to the nation’s economic future. Most importantly, the report takes a deep dive into regional data on the current and future role of manufacturing to the economic recovery of communities across the country. It takes a hard look at the quality of manufacturing jobs today, and the major workforce challenges facing a manufacturing revival.

Clusters & Regions

The Geography of Innovation

Richard Florida, CityLab
Which type of place is more innovative—dense, diverse cities or sprawling, homogeneous suburbs? For most self-described urbanists, the answer would seem obvious. The density and diversity of cities enable all sorts of unique collaborations and chance encounters that foster innovation. But this popular association between cities and innovation has long been confounded by the prevalence of suburban innovation hubs—the low-slung, car-dependent office parks that Joel Kotkin famously dubbed “nerdistans.” A recent study finds that while there is actually a greater amount of innovation (as measured by patents) in suburbs, cities produce far more “unconventional innovations,” which require a greater diversity of contributors and have a more disruptive economic impact.

Statistics & Indicators

The Best States for Data Innovation

Daniel Castro, Joshua New, and John Wu, Center for Data Innovation
Across the United States, data scientists, civic leaders, educators, and business leaders are laying the groundwork for using data to grow the economy and address a range of societal challenges. This report reviews a series of indicators that rank states on the degree to which they have achieved the key enablers of success in the data economy, including the availability of high-value datasets, the creation of important technologies, and the development of human and business capital. It then identifies a range of opportunities for state governments to maximize their potential for data-driven growth and progress.

Export Monitor 2017

Joseph Parilla and Nick Marchito, Brookings
in July 2017, the President announced “Made in America” week to showcase U.S.-produced goods from all 50 states. In fact, advocating for U.S.-produced goods has been one of the most consistent positions of his campaign and administration. “Made in America” proclamations are not new: presidents Obama and George W. Bush used similar rhetoric when discussing American manufacturing. The previous and current efforts reflect that support for American-made goods remains a key pillar of U.S. trade policy, since manufacturing accounts for 56 percent of total U.S. exports. But new Brookings data on goods and services exports in U.S. metro areas suggest cause for concern, as well as the need to diversify American trade policy strategies.

Policy Digest

SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Canada

Small business and entrepreneurship performance is critical to the health of the Canadian economy, accounting for more than one-half of business sector employment. Canada has a vibrant small business sector and healthy attitudes to entrepreneurship. However, there are key challenges in scaling up small businesses, increasing the rate of business dynamism and high-growth firms, and increasing productivity and exporting in established small firms. This report examines the issues and identifies actions that public policy could take. Its proposals include developing a national strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship and increasing the range of program interventions in areas such as financing, innovation, internationalization, entrepreneurship education, management advice, and workforce skills development.


Structure and performance
There are very healthy attitudes towards entrepreneurship in the Canadian population and Canadian SMEs are relatively innovative. However, Canada is not a top performer in the generation of high-growth firms, its SMEs have relatively little involvement in exporting, and there are relatively slow rates of business entry and exit. There is also a relatively large lag between the productivity of SMEs and large firms in Canada compared with the United States.

Business environment conditions
Small businesses in Canada benefit from a favourable small business tax regime, easy administrative procedures to start a business and a flexible labour market. On the other hand, bank lending volumes are relatively low and conditions relatively restrictive, and although there is substantial early-stage equity finance, domestic institutional investors are not playing the role that might be expected, the business angel market appears to be small and equity crowdfunding is limited. Furthermore, the innovation system is weighted to basic research rather than applied research.

Strategic policy framework and delivery system
There are many federal small business support programs in Canada, offered by a range of government organisations including government departments, the federal Regional Development Agencies, and Crown Corporations. This brings the need for strong co-ordination mechanisms. Canada lacks a comprehensive strategy document for SME and entrepreneurship policy, a formal inter-departmental committee on SMEs and entrepreneurship, or rich statistical and evaluation evidence. However, there are other mechanisms which support policy formulation, including government consultative bodies, independent advisory panels and formal program consultations, such as the 5-year comprehensive reviews of main program and the 10-year legislative reviews of crown corporations. There are also effective national tools to guide small businesses and entrepreneurs towards relevant information on regulations and program support, such as BizPaL and the Canada Business Network. A large share of federal support for SMEs and entrepreneurs is provided through tax incentives rather than targeted programs.

Federal programs
There is an extensive package of appropriate federal government interventions that are proving very effective in overcoming market failures and institutional problems affecting the emergence, growth and productivity of new and small firms. This includes many model initiatives from which other countries can learn and that need to be protected and maintained. For example, an ambitious Venture Capital Action Plan supports equity investments in small firms; the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program and Build in Canada Innovation Program support the development of innovative SMEs; the access of SMEs to public procurement opportunities is actively pursued by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises within Public Services and Procurement Canada; and Regional Development Agencies support start-ups, SME innovation and growth/productivity, by facilitating access by local SMEs to international markets, global value chains and defence procurement through their regular programs and initiatives and foster entrepreneurship and SME development in the rural regions of Canada through the Community Futures Programme. Today’s challenge is to fill gaps in this policy offer where there is lack of appropriate scale of interventions and lack of action to address specific aspects of market and institutional failure. In financing, gaps include limited reach of initiatives for credit guarantees and business angel investment. Innovation support is currently weighted to research and development (R&D) tax credits, whereas scale is lacking in support for nontechnological innovation, advice and mentoring for digital technology adoption and support of university knowledge exchange activities. For exporting, more could be done to encourage export of intangibles and develop networks of exporting SMEs. Despite many good practices in entrepreneurship education across schools and universities in Canada, there is little support for developing entrepreneurial skills and mind sets in the vocational education system, and some of the best tools for experiential learning in schools and universities need to be rolled out to more institutions and students. Furthermore, despite model management consultancy interventions by Business Development Bank of Canada and the federal Regional Development Agencies among others, more could be done to support access to private business development services and online diagnostics for SME management. Also, aside from the Canada Job Grant, there is relatively little emphasis on developing skills in existing SME workforces at the federal level of government.

The local dimension
There are substantial spatial variations across Canada in conditions for small business development. Regions vary, for example, in the sectors of their driving clusters, the importance of obstacles in areas such as skills and finance, and the extent to which SMEs are involved in innovation. There is a very effective system of adapting small business policy to varying local needs through the direct programs of provinces/territories and region-specific interventions of the federal Regional Development Agencies. There are also effective mechanisms for policy co-ordination across federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments. There is nonetheless an opportunity to further increase the supply and use of local economic intelligence for policy design, boost the exchange of information on local good policy practices, and strengthen the co-ordination of provincial legislation in internal trade, skills recognition and financial innovation.

Women and entrepreneurship
The involvement of women in entrepreneurship is high in Canada. Nevertheless, the female entrepreneurship rate is far behind that of males. There is also an important gender difference in the scale of businesses created. The government is actively addressing these inequalities, as are the provincial/territorial governments and women’s enterprise organisations. Federal government, for example, has introduced a national forum and an online platform to bring together women entrepreneurs, a program for mentorship and championing of women entrepreneurs, and the Canadian Businesswomen International Trade Program to increase access to foreign markets. Women entrepreneurship program still need to be boosted, however, particularly in financing and supplier diversity, and the co-ordination of policy could be improved by developing a women’s enterprise strategy for Canada.

  • Strengthen measures to increase productivity and access to foreign markets in existing SMEs, stimulate the entry of new businesses and promote high-growth SMEs.
  • Improve framework conditions by further supporting lending to small business where there are market gaps, revamping apprenticeship training, and aligning policies for attraction of foreign direct investment with small business development strategies.
  • Develop an integrated national SME and entrepreneurship strategy, giving leadership of the strategy to one government entity.
  • Fill niche gaps in federal programs for small businesses and entrepreneurship within the areas of financing, innovation, internationalization, entrepreneurship education, management consultancy, workforce skills development, public procurement and support for disadvantaged and under-represented social groups.
  • Strengthen the diffusion of local good practice interventions through new mechanisms for information generation and exchange and increase co-operation among provinces and territories in the promotion of internal trade, apprentice mobility and financial regulation.
  • Boost interventions for financing women entrepreneurs and increasing gender diversity in public and private procurement, replicate successful local women entrepreneurship support programs in other regions and formulate a women’s enterprise strategy


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.