The IPL newsletter: Volume 18, Issue 374

News from the IPL


University of Sheffield Leads New Research Project to Unlock the UK Productivity Puzzle

University of Sheffield
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded Productivity Insights Network, which launches this month, aims to improve understanding about the factors affecting UK productivity. Productivity is arguably the most pressing economic challenge facing the UK, with productivity growth having been slow since the late-2000s and the gap growing with other countries. Led by Professors Philip McCann and Tim Vorley, the Productivity Insights Network is an ambitious initiative, co-producing new research-based insights with public, private and third sector partners.

New Platform Showcases Canada’s Global Leadership in Artificial Intelligence

A group of Canada’s top artificial intelligence institutions recently launched, a web platform to showcase Canada’s leadership in the field of artificial intelligence. will serve as a hub of information about the research being done in Canada, the leading startups and companies in the AI space, and events happening across the country. Canada is a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence, host to globally-recognized top AI researchers, institutions, and startup companies. In the years ahead some of the world’s most important AI stories and developments will be homegrown, and is the place to share them. The platform was unveiled in Toronto at TechTO, one of Canada’s largest technology meet-up events. The announcement was made by NEXT Canada, the Toronto-based organization whose NextAI program helps innovators commercialize technology. NEXT Canada served as’s primary builder, in collaboration with community champions Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), Borealis AI, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Creative Destruction Lab, Element AI, Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) and Vector Institute.

NYCEDC Begins Search for Partners and a NY Bio Campus

Ben Fidler, Xconomy
If you had $100 million to create an epicenter for New York biotech, what would you do with it? The New York City Economic Development Corp., a quasi-governmental agency supporting job growth in New York, has put that question to the private sector. The NYCEDC has called for proposals asking a “mission-driven organization or joint venture” how to use up to $100 million and, possibly, some city-owned land to develop what it’s been calling the “Applied Life Science Hub.” The proposed hub was first mentioned in December 2016 as a critical part of LifeSci NYC, the 10-year, $500 million plan to spur biotech investment in New York City. It’s been an abstraction since; conceptually, a spacious campus connecting venture investors, university researchers, startups, and pharma companies.

Editor's Pick

Drive to Win – Report of the Automotive Advisor to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario

Ray Tanguay, Canadian Automotive Partnership Council
This report, on the state of the Canadian automotive industry and actions for the future, arrives during a period of unprecedented disruption stemming from climate change, new technologies, and shifting expectations and uncertainties surrounding trade and investment. For Canadians and communities across the country who are dependent on a viable and enduring Canadian automotive industry, the expectations are that policy makers at all levels will identify the impacts of these transformations and challenges and take deliberate measures to protect and strengthen the sector. In targeting prospects for a stronger automotive industry in Canada the federal and provincial governments have to understand and remove barriers for investors. In order for Canada to win investments it needs to be more competitive than other jurisdictions south of the border. While there have been important steps in that direction the challenge for attracting manufacturing investment remains in Canada’s ability to be the most cost competitive and to do well on key performance indicators like safety, quality, and productivity.

Innovation Policy

Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All

World Economic Forum
As the types of skills needed in the labour market change rapidly, individual workers will have to engage in life-long learning if they are to achieve fulfilling and rewarding careers. For companies, reskilling and upskilling strategies will be critical if they are to find the talent they need and to contribute to socially responsible approaches to the future of work. For policy-makers, reskilling and retraining the existing workforce are essential levers to fuel future economic growth, enhance societal resilience in the face of technological change and pave the way for future-ready education systems for the next generation of workers. Yet while there has been much forecasting on transformations in labour markets, few practical approaches exist to identifying reskilling and job transition opportunities. This report provides a valuable new tool that will help individual workers, companies, and governments to prioritize their actions and investments. Using big data analytics of online job postings, the methodology in this report demonstrates the power of a data-driven approach to discover reskilling pathways and job transition opportunities. The methodology can be applied to a variety of taxonomies of job requirements and sources of data.

Broadband’s Impact: A Brief Literature Review

Roberto Gallardo, Brian Whitacre, and Alison Grant, Purdue University Center for Regional Development
Broadband applications continue to evolve as the technology matures and number of users increase. As of December 2017, more than 3.7 billion people around the world were using the internet (Internet Live Stats, 2017). An important series of questions arise. What impact does broadband and its applications have? More importantly, do the benefits outweigh the costs of deploying and maintaining this technology? There has been a significant amount of scholarly research focusing on what broadband may portend for individuals, communities and regions. This article is intended to highlight some of the more salient research findings on a variety of topics including economic development, migration, civic engagement, education, telework, telehealth, smart cities / big data and agriculture.

Clusters & Regions

Big or Small Cities? On City Size and Economic Growth

S.A. Frick and A. Rodriguez-Pose, GaWC Research Bulletin
Policy-makers and academics frequently emphasize a positive link between city size and economic growth. The empirical literature on the relationship, however, is scarce and uses rough indicators for the size for a country’s cities, while ignoring factors that are increasingly considered to shape the relationship. In this paper, the authors employ a panel of 113 countries between 1980 and 2010 to explore whether (1) there are certain city sizes that are growth enhancing and (2) how additional factors highlighted in the literature impact the city size/growth relationship. The results suggest a non-linear relationship which is dependent on the country’s size. In contrast to the prevailing view that large cities are growth-inducing, for the majority of countries relatively small cities of up to 3 million inhabitants are more conducive to economic growth. A large share of the urban population in cities with more than 10 million inhabitants is only growth promoting in countries with an urban population of 28.5 million and more. In addition, the relationship is highly context dependent: a high share of industries that benefit from agglomeration economies, a well-developed urban infrastructure, and an adequate level of governance effectiveness allow countries to take advantage of agglomeration benefits from larger cities.

JLL Typology of World Cities

In this latest research in collaboration with The Business of Cities, JLL has identified 10 city groups each playing a distinct role on the global stage. Cities within each group share strengths and challenges and present different opportunities to real estate investors, developers and the corporate sector.

How Cities Can Strike a Win-Win Deal for Amazon HQ2

Amy Liu, CityLab
The mayors and civic leaders in the 20 places that made the cut to host Amazon’s second headquarters, known as HQ2, are boasting with pride and understandably so. In one of the highest-profile corporate site selection competitions in history, and against hundreds of competitors, an iconic tech firm has validated their communities as hubs of talent, innovation, and quality living. The competition now intensifies, with cities under immense pressure to bring their best game. The prize is seductive: An innovative firm with 50,000 knowledge workers that will cement a region’s place in the digital economy. At the same time, leaders are bracing for an inter-state competition that could shatter incentives records and test their resolve to deliver inclusive economic growth. This is the box in which cities find themselves: Can they effectively lure Amazon in ways that benefit the whole community, not just Amazon?

Statistics & Indicators

Useful Stats: VC Investments Double Over Decade; Deal Growth Slows

Over the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, as total venture capital investments more than doubled, growing from $41.2 billion to $84.0 billion, the number of deals increased by just 2.7 percent according to new data from the NVCA-Pitchbook Venture Capital Monitor. In 2017, more than half of all venture capital deals and three-quarters of all venture capital dollars went to companies in California, New York, and Massachusetts in 2017. However, the share of deals going to these three states decreased slightly from 2007 to 2017 (from 56.1 to 52.4 percent), while the share of dollars increased from 62.3 percent to 75.7 percent. Based on the NVCA-Pitchbook Venture Capital Monitor data, SSTI has prepared information on VC investment by state and changes over time.

2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index

Bloomberg Technology
The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings. The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies. The U.S. fell to 11th place from ninth mainly because of an eight-spot slump in the post-secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates in the labor force. Value-added manufacturing also declined. Improvement in the productivity score couldn’t make up for the lost ground.

Policy Digest

NSF Science and Technology Indicators 2018

National Science Foundation
The global landscape of S&E research, education, and business activities has undergone dramatic shifts since the turn of the twenty-first century, as regions, countries, and economies around the globe continue to invest in science and technology (S&T). S&E capabilities, until recently located mainly in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, have spread to the developing world, notably to China and other Southeast Asian economies that are heavily investing to build their S&T capabilities. This overview highlights information from Science and Engineering Indicators that offers insights into the global landscape and presents broadly comparable data to examine indicators across regions, countries, and economies, comparing S&E training, research outputs, the creation and use of intellectual property, and the output of knowledge-intensive industries.

Workers with S&E Skills

An innovative, knowledge-based economy requires a workforce with high-levels of S&E skills and an education system that can produce such workers in sufficient numbers. Realizing this, governments in many countries prioritized increased access to S&E-related postsecondary education. At the same time, countries compete to attract the best talent (OECD 2017), leading to increased mobility of high-skill workers. Comprehensive and internationally comparable data on the global S&E workforce, while limited, suggest that S&E work is increasingly occurring throughout the world with concentrations in specific regions.

Globally, first university degree awards in S&E fields, broadly equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, totaled more than 7.5 million, according to the most recent estimates. Almost half of these degrees were conferred in two Asian countries: India (25%) and China (22%); another 22% together were conferred in the European Union (12%) and in the United States (10%). University degree production in China has grown faster than in other major developed nations and regions. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of S&E bachelor’s degrees awarded in China rose more than 350%, significantly faster than in the United States and in many other European and Asian regions and economies. Additionally, during the same period, the number of non-S&E degrees conferred in China also rose dramatically (by almost 1,200%), suggesting that capacity building in China, as indicated by bachelor’s degree awards, is occurring in both S&E and non-S&E areas.

R&D Expenditures and R&D Intensity

The rising number of researchers and expanding S&E education have been accompanied by strong and widespread growth in R&D expenditures. The worldwide estimated total of R&D expenditures continued to rise at a substantial pace, more than doubling over the 15-year period between 2000 and 2015, indicative of the global trends toward investments in knowledge and technology.

Global R&D activity continues to be concentrated in North America, Europe, and the East and Southeast Asia and South Asia regions. Among individual countries, the United States is by far the largest R&D performer, followed by China—whose R&D spending exceeded that of the EU total—and Japan. Together, the United States, China, and Japan accounted for over half of the estimated $1.9 trillion in global R&D in 2015. Germany is fourth, at 6%. South Korea, France, India, and the United Kingdom make up the next tier of performers—each accounting for 2%–4% of the global R&D total.

Invention, Knowledge Transfer, and Innovation

Science and Engineering Indicators 2018 presents detailed data on these various components for the United States, but internationally comparable data on these topics are limited. The Overview presents selected topics from this three-part system for which comprehensive and comparable international data are available. Two such topics are patents, an important (albeit partial) indicator of invention, and venture capital, an important catalyst for the transformation of inventions into innovation and practical use.

The developed world dominates global patenting, with notable growth (albeit from low bases) in several Asian economies. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents to inventors worldwide, with over 300,000 patents granted in 2016. Inventors from the United States, Japan, and EU account for the majority of USPTO patents. In comparison however, patents granted to inventors from the rest of the world have risen more robustly since 2000, with more than a three-fold increase in patents to other developed economies and a more than 13-fold increase in patents to developing economies. The U.S. share of USPTO patents declined to under half of all USPTO patents by 2008.

Another essential component of the translation of inventions into innovations and practical use is access to financing. Developing and commercializing new and emerging technology is inherently risky, and financial support can provide insurance against some of this uncertainty. Venture capital investment is an indicator of support for emerging technologies that have the potential for successful commercialization and was globally about $131 billion in 2016. The United States attracts slightly more than half of this venture capital funding, although its share has been declining as other countries, particularly China, ramp up their S&T capabilities for developing new technologies.

Seed-stage venture capital refers to very early-stage financing, which generally provides funding for preliminary business operations, such as proof-of-concept development and initial product development, as well as marketing for startups and small firms that are developing new technologies. The United States attracted more than half of the nearly $6 billion of global seed-stage venture capital investment in 2016. These seed-stage investments are very small relative to early- and later-stage venture capital investment (totaling almost $125 billion in 2016), which provide financing for further development, production, commercialization, and marketing of new technologies. The United States attracts slightly more than half of the global early- and later-stage venture capital investment, followed by China. Between 2010 and 2016, the level of investment grew strongly in the U.S. although the U.S. global share dropped from 68% to 52%. In China, investment rose from a low base between 2006 and 2013; after 2013, growth accelerated as investment leaped from almost $3 billion in 2013 to $34 billion in 2016, resulting in its global share to rise from 5% to 27%.

Knowledge- and Technology-Intensive Economic Activity

Industries that intensely embody new knowledge and technological advances in their production, as reflected by their R&D expenditures and utilization of S&T in the delivery of their services, account for nearly one-third (31%) of global economic output. They span both manufacturing (e.g., aircraft and spacecraft; computer equipment; communications and semiconductors; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; testing, measuring, and control instruments; motor vehicles and parts; railroad and other transportation equipment; machinery) and services sectors (e.g., education, health, business, R&D, financial, and information services).

At 38%, the United States leads the major economies in the percentage of its GDP that comes from these KTI industries. Historically concentrated in the developed world, these industries typically make up a larger percentage of GDP in developed economies than in developing economies. However, developing economies, led by China, are emerging as prominent players as they ramp up their S&E capabilities. Additionally, recent global economic developments have had somewhat different impacts on the major global players, further transforming this segment of the S&E landscape. For example, following the global recession of the late-2000s, the United States has had strong growth in many KTI industries and trade of KTI goods and services, contrasting with tepid or negative growth in the EU and Japan. China has continued to grow quite robustly and has become the world’s largest producer in many technology-intensive manufacturing industries. Although its relative position is not as strong in the knowledge-intensive (KI) services sector, where the United States and the EU are the dominant global producers, China is growing far more rapidly than developed economies overall.


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?

David Hulchanski: How Toronto’s Neighbourhoods are Changing: An Update on Socio-spatial Polarization Trends

Toronto, 25 January, 2018
A Census 2016 update on socio-spatial change in Toronto since the 1970s, based on research by the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership. Four specific categories of change help explain the trends: the labour market, the housing market, social spending and tax changes, and the failure to seriously address housing, employment, and educational discrimination in an increasingly diverse society.

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.