The IPL newsletter: Volume 19, Issue 384

News from the IPL


Urban Policy Lab Student Fellowship Applications Open

The Urban Policy Lab at the University of Toronto is excited to announce a new Student Fellowship Program offering Master of Public Policy students interested in cities and urban policy making the chance to participate in unique experiential learning opportunities, contribute to the Lab’s research projects, and help coordinate the School’s urban-oriented extracurricular programming.

Editor's Pick

Could “Mid-Tech” Jobs Elevate More People and Non-Coastal Places?

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Patrick McKenna, Brookings
Long before its current crises, tech had a reputation for elitism. Because they appeared inaccessible to people without a technical degree, the sector’s high-paying jobs were assumed to exacerbate economic divides in regions, not narrow them. In fact, recent Metro Program research on the “digitalization” of the economy shows the tendency of digital technologies to polarize as well as empower. And yet, for all that, more and more evidence is accumulating to suggest that while tech jobs might not be easy to access, they do offer the potential to build inclusive growth and address regional inequality. Recent analysis suggests that a surprisingly large share of classic tech jobs are actually quite accessible to workers without a bachelor’s degree. Accordingly, these numbers suggest tech may also be a more plausible economic development strategy for a wider array of cities and regions than conventional knowledge suggests, especially as IT continues to spread.

Innovation Policy

A Remarkable Return on Investment in Fundamental Research: 40 Years of Basic Energy Sciences at the Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy
This report is intended to highlight outstanding examples of major scientific accomplishments emerging from 40 years of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) research support, including how these discoveries have helped fulfill the Department of Energy’s mission and have led to new technologies and industries that contribute to American innovation and prosperity. By examining past successes, this report seeks to illuminate guiding strategies and approaches that will be critical to ensuring future U.S. leadership.

Manufacturing Prosperity: A Bold Strategy for National Wealth and Security

This report presents a detailed look at the challenges and opportunities for U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness. It argues that when it comes to restoring U.S. competitiveness, one thing is clear: the job is too big for any one sector or government agency. Manufacturing cuts across multiple disciplines and affects the missions of multiple federal agencies. To restore manufacturing leadership — and to restore the nation’s ability to capture wealth from innovation — public and private stakeholders need to coordinate and think long-term. A central focal point for manufacturing R&D in the federal government that can maintain the needed long-term focus is the key missing element in the R&D ecosystem. The report identifies critical next steps in the areas of investment in research and manufacturing, pilot production and scale-ups, small and medium manufacturers, and talent growth.

Is the Solow Paradox Back?

Mekala Krishnan, Jan Mischke, and Jaana Remes, McKinsey Quarterly
This article argues that we should not be discouraged by the anemic productivity growth that has handicapped advanced economies for more than a decade. If history is any guide, technology-enabled innovation in processes, products, and services could soon deliver a new wave of productivity growth, with major benefits accruing to players on its leading edge, and to the economy as a whole. Economist Robert Solow famously said in 1987 that the computer age was everywhere except for the productivity statistics. This phenomenon, which became known as the Solow Paradox, was resolved in the 1990s when a few sectors—technology, retail, and wholesale—led an acceleration of US productivity growth. As companies across the economy evolved business processes, often with the help of an expanding ICT services and software sector, productivity responded strongly in concentrated pockets, moving the needle for the economy as a whole either because the productivity jumps were extremely large or because they occurred in sectors of the economy (such as retail and wholesale) where employment was very large. Today, with digitization, we are living in round two of the Solow Paradox.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Rethinking Urban Sprawl: Moving Towards Sustainable Cities

This report provides a new perspective on the nature of urban sprawl and its causes and environmental, social and economic consequences. This perspective, which is based on the multi-dimensionality of urban sprawl, sets the foundations for the construction of new indicators to measure the various facets of urban sprawl. The report uses new datasets to compute these indicators for more than 1100 urban areas in 29 OECD countries over the period 1990-2014. It then relies on cross-city, country-level and cross-country analyses of these indicators to provide insights into the current situation and evolution of urban sprawl in OECD cities. In addition, the report offers a critical assessment of the causes and consequences of urban sprawl and discusses policy options to steer urban development to more environmentally sustainable forms.

Statistics & Indicators

State of Cities 2018

National League of Cities
Economic development was the most prevalent policy issue across mayoral speeches in 2018. This is the fifth straight year that economic development issues were are the forefront of mayoral speeches with NLC reporting 58 percent of the state of cities speeches including “significant coverage of economic development issues.” However, this year marked a shift from mayors focusing their speeches on job creation and business attraction strategies in previous years to primarily focusing on driving downtown development, supporting innovation, and enhancing local art scenes. For those mayors that did discuss job creation, the speeches focused primarily on developing more inclusive strategies that create equitable access to economic opportunities for all members of their respective communities.

Global Metro Monitor 2018

More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and the 300 largest metropolitan economies in the world account for nearly half of all global output. The concentration of economic growth and prosperity in large metro areas defines the modern global economy, creating both opportunities and challenges in an era in which national political, economic, and societal trends are increasingly influenced by subnational dynamics. Understanding these large metro areas’ economic trajectory, measured through employment and GDP per capita measures, offers additional insights into the sources of growth that national or regional assessments tend to obscure.

Investment, Innovation, and Job Creation in a Growing U.S. Bioscience Industry 2018

This eighth, biennial report focuses on the economic progress and footprint of the industry geographically including the performance, positioning and latest trends in the bioscience industry for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas. For the first time, it includes a national assessment of the full economic impact of the bioscience industry not only in terms of employment but also with respect to economic output and fiscal impacts. In addition, the report details the situation for the industry’s innovation ecosystem considering several key facets that ensure a high-performing industry and the long-term success it has maintained. These include the nation’s academic research activities and trends in federal funding, access to critical angel and venture capital and the innovation outputs context via patent activities.

Policy Digest

Building Shared Prosperity in America’s Cities

Aban Berube, Julie Bosland, Solomon Greene, and Chantel Rush, Brookings
he United States is a country of tremendous economic opportunity. However, that opportunity isn’t shared equally. Currently, long-standing wealth gaps across race, gender, and class are widening, fueled by evolving technologies, shifting labor markets, changing demographics, and continued racial bias. Instead of leveraging these economic and social forces to broaden individual and community pathways to prosperity, the U.S. federal government is continuing to withdraw from major areas of investment in families and communities, including crucial safety net supports. Across the country, cities are stepping up to fill this void, buoyed by strong public trust, a lack of partisan gridlock, and a commitment to what the authors call shared prosperity. This paper reviews the three common principles which underlie the strategies to ensure shared prosperity in cities and introduces the Shared Prosperity Partnership, a joint initiative of the Kresge Foundation, the Brookings Institution, Living Cities, and the Urban Institute, which seeks to accelerate the locally-driven solutions to economic inequality that are emerging in urban communities across America. While the specific approaches of each city are unique, all build on the fact that our nation only succeeds when cities succeed, and cities only succeed when all of their communities succeed.

City leaders are responding with a new resolve to build shared prosperity.

While individual cities face their own unique challenges and opportunities, they are united by a common experience a lack of inclusive economic growth. Even in economically healthy cities, stark racial disparities persist, and lower-income families are facing growing displacement pressures. In economically distressed cities, revitalization efforts have resulted in intermittent and often isolated or unscaled successes but have failed to systemically shrink the racial wealth gap or increase opportunities for low-income families.

While the specific approach of each city is unique, there are three common principles that underlie the strategies to ensure shared prosperity in cities:

  • Continuously creating new, high-quality opportunities for workers and businesses in an expanding nation;
  • Increasing economic mobility for individuals and families while narrowing significant disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender; and
  • Building and supporting communities where all residents can experience a high quality of life and actively participate in charting their local future.

These efforts to build shared prosperity advance the principles that our nation only succeeds when our cities succeed, and our cities only succeed when all of their communities succeed

The Shared Prosperity Partnership helps integrate, accelerate, and elevate city leadership on shared prosperity.

Even in the most entrepreneurial cities, the systematic and structural nature of economic inequality remains vexing, with most positive outcomes existing at the margins. We need new approaches and resources that can support local efforts to bring about more sustained change. We hypothesize that local leaders could garner more systemic results by:

  • Aligning around a clear, long-term, cross-sector vision for shared prosperity;
  • Translating that vision into strategies supported by resources;
  • Ensuring those strategies break down silos and draw on new partnerships, voices, and data; and
  • Embedding these new ways of thinking and acting into sustained, daily practice.

Examples of this approach might include forging new collaborations to better align skills training with regional market demands; strengthening existing neighborhood businesses and attracting new ones that benefit existing residents, especially historically marginalized populations; and revamping city procurement practices to facilitate more business with entrepreneurs of color.

Cities can pilot these new practices, but they need support and partnerships to deliver on the ultimate goal of shared prosperity. In that spirit, the four organizations the Kresge Foundation, the Brookings Institution, Living Cities, and the Urban Institute are uniting their collective energies to accelerate these locally-driven solutions. Through the Shared Prosperity Partnership, they identify, accelerate, and elevate new policies and initiatives that constitute this emerging field of urban practice.

The Shared Prosperity Partnership works at two levels:

  1. Locally, they accelerate promising solutions already underway. In a select number of cities across the United States, these organizations convene local and regional leaders to learn from one another and forge unlikely alliances. They support these leaders with data, research, and access to national experts, networks, tools, and financial resources.
  2. Nationally, they elevate promising models. Through publications, public forums, and a national summit, they seek to inspire refinement and replication of effective models, advance supportive policy reforms at the state and national levels, highlight additional gaps in the field, and offer an agenda for moving forward.

At a time of national challenge, the Shared Prosperity Partnership leverages the work of innovative local leaders to advance a hopeful vision for American society, economic competitiveness, and individual well-being. It’s a bold vision, but one that promises tremendous rewards for individuals, communities, and regional economies.


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.

Call for Participation: International PhD Course on Economic Geography

Utrecht, The Netherlands, 11-14 September and 30 October-2 November, 2018
The course aims to provide an introduction to contemporary research perspectives and approaches in economic geography. The core questions of this discipline – related to the role of place and space in processes of economic development – have in recent years attracted interest not just from geographers but also from economists and other social scientists. This course will debate recent theoretical developments (with special attention to evolutionary and institutional economic geography), and will discuss recent advancements in methodology and empirical analysis in economic geography.

2018 European Week of Regions and Cities – Masterclass on EU Cohesion Policy for PhD Students and Early Career Researchers

Brussels, Belgium, 7-11 October, 2018
As part of the 16th European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), the biggest event worldwide on regional and urban development, the Master Class on EU Cohesion Policy will be held for PhD students and early-career researchers for the sixth time. Applications are being sought from PhD students and early career researchers (defined as being within five years of the date on their PhD certificate or equivalent) undertaking research related to European Cohesion Policy to attend the 2018 University Master Class. The Master Class is a unique format to connect aspiring researchers and will include presentations of papers by the participants as well as lectures and panel debates with policymakers, EU officials and senior academics to improve understanding of, and research, on EU Cohesion Policy. In particular, the Master Class will serve to

  • discuss recent research on European regional and urban development and EU Cohesion Policy;
  • enable PhD students and early career researchers to exchange views and network with policymakers, EU officials and senior academics;
  • raise awareness and understanding of the research potential in the field of EU Cohesion Policy.

 The Master Class is organised and led by the European Commission, DG for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Regional Studies Association (RSA) in cooperation with the European Regional Science Association (ERSA) and the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP).

TCI 2018 – Unexpected Connections: Collaborating to Compete – Clusters in Action

Toronto, 16-18 October, 2018
Cluster success is often the result of collaboration, more than just the agglomeration of anchor firms, R&D labs, incubators and accelerators, and disrupting organizations. Regions with clusters that actively collaborate within and between one another are more competitive. As firms continue to face new challenges from technological, economic, and political shifts, clusters remain a driving catalyst that can create sustainable levels of innovation and economic growth. Firms, at the heart of active clusters, with the support of those within the cluster ecosystem, can weather the changing dynamics of the global marketplace. TCI 2018 explores the collaboration that is happening within clusters and the opportunities to work together towards shared prosperity.

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