The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 373

News from the IPL


American R&D Expenditures Surpass US$500 Billion

SSTI Weekly Digest
Estimates indicate that R&D expenditures in the United States reached $510 billion in 2016, marking the first time this total has eclipsed the half-trillion mark, according to recently released National Science Foundation data. The majority of R&D expenditures and performance comes from the private sector. From 2011 to 2016, R&D growth kept pace with the economy as a whole, and R&D intensity – measured as R&D expenditures as a share of gross domestic product – was essentially flat. The analysis finds, though, that federal expenditures on R&D decreased during this period.

US Department of Defense Launches a US$6 Million Program to Spur New University-Industry Research Partnerships

SSTI Weekly Digest
Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a public announcement on the launch of a new pilot program that supports university-industry basic research collaborations focused on the discovery of novel solutions to challenging defense and national security problems. The Defense Department is seeking proposals from university-industry partnerships to tackle high-priority basic research projects as part of a new “Defense Enterprise Science Initiative.” The initiative, also known as DESI, aims to incentivize “use-inspired basic research” by convening university and industry teams to work on defense and national security challenges.

Editor's Pick

Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transition in a Time of Automation

McKinsey Global Institute
In this report on automation, McKinsey’s Global Institute examines work that can be automated through 2030 and jobs that may be created in the same period. It draws from lessons from history and develop various scenarios for the future. While it is hard to predict how all this will play out, this research provides some insights into the likely workforce transitions that should be expected and their implications.

Innovation Policy

Deep Internationalization and Infrastructure

Kris Olds, Inside Higher Ed
Over the last several years, it has been interesting to see the development of some new and relatively deep collaborative models of institutional (or ‘commercial,’ using GATS parlance) presence in territories outside of universities’ main campuses. These new models tend to be research- and graduate or professional education-oriented, with relatively strong interdisciplinary inclinations. These new models are formal joint ventures (in full, or in a significant way) vs stand-alone branch campuses; they involve significant medium-term commitment and investment; they are associated with the development of new purpose-designed buildings and broader institutional infrastructure; they involve the creation of new governance and organizational structures; they involve a concerted effort to produce innovative forms of new knowledge, impact, and sometimes service; and they are located in global cities. Kris Olds explores why this relatively deep form of internationalization has emerged and how it has fueled the development of new forms of higher education infrastructure.

Industry Funding of University Research: Which States Lead?

Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF
Industry funding of university research is an important component of U.S. academic research and industrial innovation, especially as federal funding for universities continues to decline and companies cut back on basic, intramural research. However, U.S. states vary dramatically on the extent to which their research universities attract industry support. In part, this is because of policy and administrative choices states and universities make. All states, but especially the laggards, would benefit from policies to attract more industry research funding, particularly as such funding appears to generate technology-based economic activity at the state level.

Mentoring in Startup Ecosystems

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, et al. 
Effective mentoring programs are very difficult to structure and execute, even with the best intentions and reasonable budget. This report conducts a multi-institution empirical analysis of mentoring in startup ecosystems to determine what helps entrepreneurial teams and mentors thrive in mentorship programs. It surveys the perspectives of mentees, mentors and university and accelerator program administrators. The empirical findings reveal that personality and the malleability of entrepreneurial skills among the mentee and the mentor matter. Further, the report finds that university programs lag behind non-university accelerator programs along several important dimensions when it comes to matching mentees to mentors and providing support during the program and following up after the completion of the program. The report provides several prescriptive recommendations for students, startup founders, mentors and program administrators, and outline a research agenda for studying mentoring in entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Clusters & Regions

Seven Big Takeaways for Metro America in 2017

Anthony Fiano, Brookings
If 2016 was considered a wild year, it wasn’t long before many deemed 2017 to be the most unpredictable in recent memory. Early speculation on the Trump administration’s urban policy priorities quickly gave way to heated debate about sanctuary cities and—spurred by riots in Charlottesville and NFL protests—race and inequality. Mayors and city leaders were at the center of these discussions, even while some faced devastating natural disasters—all while observing demographic trends and technological shifts that are impacting every facet of American life. In sum, a lot has happened this year in our cities and regions across the country. As we move into 2018 the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program reflects on seven important takeaways from 2017.

Multinational Enterprises, Industrial Relatedness, and Employment in European Regions

Nicola Cortinovis, Riccardo Crescenzi, and Frank van Oort
This paper looks at the link between Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and employment in local firms in their host regions. The paper cross-fertilizes the literature on MNE spillovers with the emerging body of research on industrial relatedness. This paper empirically tests the link between industrial relatedness and MNE impacts on employment by capturing various types of horizontal and vertical similarities across industries. The focus of this study is on employment in European NUTS2 regions. The empirical analysis shows that cross-sectoral MNE spillovers among cognitively related industries are positive and significant, confirming that industrial relatedness is an important driver of employment-enhancing spillovers from MNE activities. However, positive effects of MNEs on domestic employment are contingent upon the modeling of both regional and industrial heterogeneity.

Statistics & Indicators

Survey of State Government Research and Development 

National Science Foundation (NSF)
The Survey of State Government Research and Development measures the extent of R&D activity performed and funded by the governments of each of the nation’s 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (collectively, states). By employing consistent, uniform definitions and collection techniques, the survey allows collection of state R&D expenditures data that are comparable nationwide. The survey is a census of state government departments, agencies, commissions, public authorities, and dependent entities with R&D activities.

Change in Urban Concentration and Economic Growth

Susanne A. Frick and Andres Rodriguez-Pose, Centre for Economic Policy Research
The paper investigates (1) the evolution of urban concentration from 1985 to 2010 in 68 countries around the world and (2) the extent to which the degree of urban concentration affects national economic growth. It aims to overcome the limitations of existing empirical literature by building a new urban population dataset that allows the construction of a set of Herfindahl-Hirschman-Indices which capture a country’s urban structure in a more nuanced way than the indicators used hitherto. We find that, contrary to the general perception, urban concentration levels have on average decreased or remained stable (depending on indicator). However, these averages camouflage diverging trends across countries. The results of the econometric analysis suggest that there is no uniform relationship between urban concentration and economic growth. Urban concentration is beneficial for economic growth in high-income countries, while this effect does not hold for developing countries. The results differ from previous analyses that generally underscore the benefits of urban concentration at low levels of economic development. The results are robust to accounting for reverse causality through IV analysis, using exogenous geographic factors as instruments.

Top-Ranked Metros for R&D Intensity

SSTI Weekly Digest
The growth and intensity of higher education R&D (HERD) expenditures varies considerably across metropolitan areas, this recent SSTI analysis of National Science Foundation data finds. New York ($4.3 billion), Boston ($3.2 billion), and Baltimore ($2.9 billion) had the highest overall levels of HERD expenditures in 2016. In that same year, Ithaca, New York (19.1 percent), State College, Pennsylvania (9.5 percent), and College Station, Texas (9.4 percent) had the highest levels of HERD intensity – measured as the share of HERD expenditures to gross metropolitan product. While overall HERD expenditures increased by nearly $7.5 billion nationwide from 2011 to 2016, more than half of this total (50.6 percent) went to the 10 metro areas with the most HERD expenditures in 2016. This analysis uses data from the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey.

Policy Digest

Building Global Winners: The Expert Review Panel Report on the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs

Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE)
The speed and depth of technological change is astounding. A new wave of platforms and technologies are set to transform the very foundations of society, from how we drive (or don’t drive) our cars to how we invest our money or diagnose our health. Commerce is conducted increasingly by algorithm. Huge data sets are spawning new industries. And all these changes have unleashed a global innovation race, with cities, regions and countries scrambling to get a piece of the economic benefits at the risk of falling behind. For the entrepreneur with a breakthrough idea, the challenge is to navigate this dynamic terrain and turn that spark into a profitable and successful company.

For more than a decade Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS) has relied on its arm’s length Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) as its prime response to that need. The ONE’s constellation of incubators and institutions, support programs and advisory services has helped nurture a culture of innovation in the province, with the number of startups growing and world-leading research emerging from Ontario universities and regional entrepreneurship. Yet compared to its competition, which now extends from Taiwan to Tel Aviv, Ontario’s innovation ecosystem remains stalled in the middle-of-the-pack. Too few Ontario startups are plugged into global networks of ideas, capital and customers. Nor is the province producing enough companies that scale and compete internationally. And too few are applying these breakthrough technologies to address Ontario’s social and environmental challenges.

Recalibrating the Network

This is not an academic problem. Building companies with global reach is crucial to creating and attracting the high caliber jobs that will entice the next generation of talented Ontarians to work here, creating the communities and economy that will serve the province.

So it is fair to ask, as the Minister of Research, Innovation and Science has done of this panel, whether the ONE needs to make adjustments. Is it adequately focused on identifying and helping the companies most likely to succeed? Does it deliver the right services and programs for entrepreneurs with global ambitions? And as Ontario faces the next wave of disruption from technologies like artificial intelligence, is a system that was designed for the needs of a previous technological age ready to meet the transformational challenges of the coming one?

The panel’s answer to the Minister is that the ONE needs renovations to be ready for the next era. This inquiry uncovered a system that has grown organically over the last decade, resulting in an unwieldy tool to deal with the accelerating pace of technological change. The network needs a philosophical shift to meet the challenges ahead, focusing more directly on Ontario’s core strengths and connecting companies to global networks. Doing so will require making changes to the way the current network is organized and governed.


Infuse Ontario’s innovation network with a greater global ethos and strategic focus.

  1. Focus the network’s strategic goal on “going global”.
  2. Develop greater international reach by creating new programs that connect Ontario entrepreneurs to the nexus of global knowledge and markets from the earliest stages of their development.
  3. Increase government spending, while targeting a greater weight of those resources on sectors where Ontario has a competitive edge.
  4. Ensure firms can get expertise from the best mentors and business leaders wherever they are in the province.
  5. Improve the assessment mechanism of new and existing programs and clients – and be willing to let go of those not meeting expectations of the network.
  6. Strengthen the central “head office” functions of the network to improve governance, program review and alignment to the province’s strategic goals.
  7. The network needs central coordination from inside the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science to ensure resources are focused on priority sectors and technologies.
  8. The ONE brand should be re-named (perhaps as “Innovation Ontario”) to increase its profile and improve clarity among clients about its mission and the services it offers.
  9. An advisory body should be established to offer expert advice to the Minister on innovation policies and programs.
  10. Address the shortfall of investment capital through action on the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund.
  11. The RICs should be grouped (and some re-named) in three categories based on roles and responsibilities.

The ONE, buffeted by external forces as well as internal challenges, is on the cusp of a new stage in its development. The recommended steps outlined here are designed to prepare the network to succeed in a transformational age, helping Ontario’s entrepreneurs and innovators build the foundations of the provincial economy for the decades ahead.


The Promise and Peril of the Smart City: Local Government in the Age of Digital Urbanism

Toronto, 25 January, 2018
The recent swell of interest in smart cities draws attention to the way the city of the future will be designed, built, and run. Increased use of technology in municipal servicing and governance holds tremendous promise to increase community engagement, create efficiencies in service production, better manage scarce resources, and increase sustainability. At the same time, however, a push towards new technology adoption in local government could worsen the digital divide, increase inequity, and privatize control over data and urban space. How will the shift toward “smart” solutions impact city finance, governance, and service delivery? What kinds of terms and regulations should cities set for these new relationships with technologists and private companies? What will be the impact on how local services are delivered? How involved will the public be in decision-making around new technological adaption?

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.

The 12th Workshop on the Organization, Economics, and Policy of Scientific Research

Bath, UK, 27-28 April, 2018
As in previous years 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. We aim to attract contributions from both junior and senior scholars; a minimum number of slots are reserved for junior researchers (PhD students or postdoc scholars who obtained their PhD in 2015 or later).

Triple Helix XVI Manchester

Manchester, UK, 5-8 September, 2018
Across the world, states and city regions are facing huge societal, economic, environmental, and political challenges whose solutions require concerted new efforts and innovative partnerships. The 2018 International Triple Helix Conference brings together academia, government, business, and community to share effective practices and to advance the frontiers of knowledge about collaboration for economic progress, social development and sustainability, and the role of cities and regions as enabling spaces for these interactions.

A World of Flows – Labour Mobility, Capital, and Knowledge in an Age of Global Reversal and Revival

Lugano, Switzerland, 3-6 June, 2018
The 2018 RSA Annual Conference aims to address processes of global reversal and regional revival, in a world dominated by flows of capital, labor, and knowledge. Further it seeks to understand the political, economic and social factors that initiate change and how these changes are finding new expressions as the world’s political and economic system continues to struggle with low rates of global economic growth, the rise of China as an economic super power, the on-going impacts of recession and austerity, and increasing levels of inequality. To study and debate these and many other questions, we warmly invite the regional studies/science and connected communities to join us.

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