The IPL newsletter: Volume 19, Issue 388


The Smart Cities/Ignite Data Exchange

via SSTI Weekly Digest
Cities are already offering innovative Smart City services to citizens and businesses by deploying sophisticated sensors, connected vehicles, IoT-enabled infrastructure and more. As cities begin to think about the next generation of applications that require vast amounts of real-time and resilient data, there is an opportunity for cities and industry to work together to develop a consistent approach to exchanging data. The new ATIS/US Ignite Smart Cities Data Exchange brings together Smart Cities thought leaders and industry experts to create a blueprint for this secure and interoperable exchange of data beyond city operational boundaries. Cities and municipalities of all sizes are invited to participate. Cities working with ATIS and US Ignite will lay a foundation for the development of a data-exchange specification. The new specification will include a data-sharing framework, data formats and protocols, security and privacy requirements and common APIs.

US Takes First Step Towards Quantum Computing Workforce via the National Quantum Initiative Act

MIT Technology Review
Quantum computers promise to transform computer security, finance, and many other fields by solving certain problems far faster than conventional machines. To unlock that potential, the US government has just passed a bill to foster a viable quantum computing industry. The act aims to establish a federal program for accelerating research and training in quantum computing. The act will release $1.275 billion to help fund several centers of excellence that should help train many quantum engineers.

Cities can Compete for $500M in Funds to Drive Inclusive Growth

SSTI Weekly Digest
JPMorgan Chase announced the creation of AdvancingCities, a new $500 million, five-year initiative to drive inclusive growth and create greater economic opportunity in cities across the world. The firm will invest in cities where conditions exist to help those who have not benefited from economic growth. This includes demonstrated collaboration across the public and private sectors on solutions that create opportunity for people at risk of being left out of economic growth. Successful applications will be eligible for a three-year grant of up to $3 million.

Editor's Pick

Manufacturing USA 2017 Program Report

Manufacturing USA
The report describes the program’s work in moving discoveries from the Nation’s universities and research laboratories into production in the U.S. It also describes the program’s fourteen institutes successes in developing world-changing manufacturing technology and equipping the U.S. manufacturing workforce with the high-value skills needed to make tomorrow’s products. The Manufacturing USA network is a public-private program designed with a vision of U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing.   Its institutes have a mission to develop game-changing technology and the skills needed to equip the future U.S. manufacturing workforce.

Innovation Policy

STEM Careers and Technological Change

David J. Deming and Kadeem Noray, Harvard University
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs are a key contributor to economic growth and national competitiveness. Yet STEM workers are perceived to be in short supply. This paper shows that the “STEM shortage” phenomenon is explained by technological change, which introduces new job tasks and makes old ones obsolete. We find that the initially high economic return to applied STEM degrees declines by more than 50 percent in the first decade of working life. This coincides with a rapid exit of college graduates from STEM occupations. Using detailed job vacancy data, we show that STEM jobs changed especially quickly over the last decade, leading to flatter age-earnings profiles as the skills of older cohorts became obsolete. Our findings highlight the importance of technology-specific skills in explaining life-cycle returns to education, and show that STEM jobs are the leading edge of technology diffusion in the labor market.

ITIF Technology Explainer: What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing leverages principles from quantum mechanics (a branch of physics), notably the unique behaviors of subatomic particles such as electrons and photons, to enable new, extremely powerful computing architectures. Instead of processing information using binary bits of ones and zeros, quantum computers use qubits, which leverage the quantum properties of “superposition” and “entanglement” to operate in multiple states at once. Qubits can effectively be a one and a zero simultaneously—and one qubit’s state can be programmed to vary according to another’s state. This allows quantum computers to vastly more information than binary systems—in fact, their data storage capacity doubles with each additional qubit. And it allows quantum computers to operate far faster than conventional computers, because they can perform certain types of calculations in many fewer steps. Take the example of searching for a number in a phonebook. If the phonebook has 10 million entries, then a classical search algorithm would have to try 5 million times, on average, to find the right one. But a quantum search algorithm could do it in just 1,000 operations—which is to say, 5,000 times faster.

ITIF Technology Explainer: What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the set of physical objects that can automatically collect a wide array of information about people, nature, the built environment, machines, and products and transmit this information over a network. Before the Internet of Things, much of this data either could not be collected, had to be collected manually (such as by inspectors examining faults in bridges), or was collected automatically—but only at great expense via specialized telecommunications links (as in the case of advanced weather stations, for example). Now, with the Internet of Things, it is possible to create intelligent systems that continuously collect vast arrays of data and transmit it over the Internet to be monitored and analyzed. As the cost of deploying smart devices declines, homes, factories, farms, office buildings, and even entire cities are increasingly generating vast quantities of actionable data this way. The Internet of Things produces myriad economic and social benefits, with applications as diverse as sensor-equipped bridges that can alert authorities when there is a risk of structural failure and devices in waterways that can warn environmental regulators about spikes of fatally toxic algae. Wearable medical devices allow individuals to monitor and address health conditions, and the use of IoT devices in industrial settings is powering smart factories and smart supply chains. These transformations will be significant, but often inconspicuous, because the changes to the physical environment are minimal: a sensor-enabled “smart” building looks much the same as a “dumb” one, but it functions much better.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

The Divides Within, and Between, Urban and Rural America

Richard Florida, CityLab
The notion of a deep and enduring divide between thriving, affluent, progressive urban areas and declining, impoverished, conservative rural areas has become a central trope—if not the central trope—in American culture today. In May 2017, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “Rural America Is the New Inner City.” And ever since Donald Trump was elected president, the narrative of urban revitalization and rural decline has only gained steam. But the reality is that this narrative fails to capture the full complexity of economic life in America. In fact, parts of rural America are thriving, even as other parts decline; just as parts of urban America continue to lose population and face economic decline as other parts make a comeback.

Redefining Global Cities

Jesus Leal Trujillo and Joseph Parilla, Brookings
As societies and economies around the world have urbanized, they have upended the classic notion of a global city. No longer is the global economy driven by a select few major financial centers like New York, London, and Tokyo. Today, members of a vast and complex network of cities participate in international flows of goods, services, people, capital, and ideas, and thus make distinctive contributions to global growth and opportunity. And as the global economy continues to suffer from what the IMF terms “too slow growth for too long,” efforts to understand and enhance cities’ contributions to growth and prosperity become even more important. In view of these trends and challenges, this report redefines global cities. It introduces a new typology that builds from a first-of-its-kind database of dozens of indicators, standardized across the world’s 123 largest metro economies, to examine what really defines a global city—its economic characteristics, industrial structure, and key competitiveness factors.

Statistics & Indicators

Economic Power Foundation of Cities in Global Governance

B. Leffel and M. Acuto, GaWC Research Bulletin
This study provides evidence that city government participation in global governance networks is explicable by the larger power hierarchy of cities in the global economy. Extant research on city government participation in global governance networks, or “transnational municipal networks (TMNs)” such as United Cities Local Governments, has largely ignored the relevance of research showing city-level connectivity to corporate and other economic networks among world cities. In this latter tradition of research, the level of a city’s connectivity to such economic networks is understood as commensurate with hierarchical power in the global economy which it holds.  Using a sample of UK and Chinese cities, this study shows that patterns of participation in a range of TMNs are explained by varied measures of city-level connectivity to economic networks. Interpreted through structuration theory, findings suggest that city participation in global governance is shaped and stratified by city-level hierarchical power within the global economy.

Policy Digest

Embedding Entrepreneurial Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Reflecting on the Role of Effectual Entrepreneurial Discovery Processes

L. Nieth et al,, RUNIN
The encouragement of collaboration between regional stakeholders is increasingly emphasized in innovation policy as a way to activate the inherent agency in a regional innovation system. Partnerships of diverse stakeholders have been identified as critical, being able to envisage and implement future pathways that in turn bring change to a region. Thus, knowledge concerning the regional assets and possible future pathways is supposed to be discovered through cooperation between diverse stakeholders. Nevertheless, it has been recognized that these agency activation approaches often fail to deliver consequential transformations, agreed by partners in terms of a long-term vision. Accordingly, understanding the conditions under which regional stakeholders can, through a process of constructive dialogue, build realistic and adaptable strategies that can shift regional development trajectories still remains a substantial challenge in innovative regional development theories. 

Potential Holes in Regional Strategies
This paper identifies one of the kinds of knowledge that may be missing in regional strategic processes is the architecture of embeddedness – existing connections between partners that can facilitate knowledge exchange and allow spill-over effects to emerge. A risk here is that regional strategies underplay the importance of these embeddedness architectures, promoting instead superficial strategic connections, with partners falling into what Sotarauta (2016) terms a metaphorical ‘black hole’. In such situations, subsequent policy cycles may merely repeat earlier shallow successes, rather than embed those successes into more systemic change. A substantive challenge in using these agency activation theories is in understanding the conditions under which regional stakeholders can, through a process of constructive dialogue, build realistic and adaptable strategies that are then implemented to shift regional development trajectories. This issue may arise from a lack of regional capacity to build upon existing embeddedness, something that is framed as being a tendency towards causal rather than effectual reasoning by regional strategic partners (see Benneworth & Nieth, 2018). The report therefore asks whether “effectual approaches to regional innovation strategy a way to encourage the development of regional embeddedness”?

Interrogating Regional Connections
The report starts by examining the interplay of agency activation approaches and the issue of regional embeddedness, here conceptualized in terms of the topology of existing regional connections that facilitate knowledge spill-over, and how attempts to strategically manage new sectoral strengths can exploit these regional connections. Noting a tendency in these regional stakeholder partnerships to seek to create new industries rather than genuinely new combinations exploiting existing embeddedness, it argues that this is potentially a consequence of a dominance of causal reasoning processes over effectual approaches in regional strategic processes. Focusing specifically on one of these agency activation approaches, namely smart specialization, the report reflects on whether there are also the possibilities for more effectual (opportunistic/flexible) approaches to entrepreneurial discovery. To answer this question, the report compares entrepreneurial discovery processes in three less successful regions, namely Aveiro (Portugal), Twente (Netherlands) and Lincolnshire (UK).

Three Kinds of Effectual Reasoning
There are three main kinds of effectual reasoning repertoire that emerge:

  • where strategies represented pathways, not end-points;
  • where attempts were made to create flexible organizations that could react to events;
  • changing participants based on their responses and not their representative function.

On this basis, this report argues that there is a prima facie case for a more comprehensive inclusion of reasoning approaches within RIS literature, as well as to work to remove more causal thinking approaches from policy-prescriptions.

Notable findings

  1. Causal reasoning processes produced regional strategies that were relatively easy for regional partners to support, in that they excluded almost nothing, but at the same time that meant they did not provide a useful selection guide for regional partners. The hard choices that were made were not about choosing between two equally unlikely future technology sectors but identifying what might be considered as regional styles of innovation.
  2. Effectual reasoning emerged in processes that permitted effectual reasoning. In situations where these new public management repertoires dominate – evaluating and comparing competing options – there is almost no room for effectual reasoning to be used. The report notes that the whole entrepreneurial discovery process as constituted allows for the possibility that it will be causal (comparative) or effectual (constructive), and no guidance is given as to how to drive to one or the other. Also notable is that the wider metanarrative of regional innovation policy has been based on a causal logic, that RISs are knowable, that gaps in RISs can be identified and filled.
  3. Representatives in regional leadership forums appear to have to have a primary concern with their individual institution’s wellbeing and therefore seek to create strategies that appear to guarantee their institution will benefit from the policy. This drives towards precisely the ‘freezing’ of strategies that undermine their flexibility, but at the same time that is unavoidable because of their representative role. In all three examples we saw that the real flexibility and leadership was provided by institutional entrepreneurs below the level of the senior leaders, who were able to mobilize and extend their networks to construct promising projects that supported regional embeddedness.


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.

Regional Studies Association – Networking Workshop for Early and Mid-Career Women in Regional Studies and Regional Science

Brighton, UK, 24 October, 2018
As they complete their doctoral studies, all Early Career Scholars face decisions including whether or not to stay in academia. This post PhD period can also include challenges and uncertainties around roles, locations, contracts and funding. Mid-Career Scholars face new challenges in their academic career when starting a faculty position, e.g. a lectureship or an assistant professorship. In this period each scholar must find strategies to balance the different responsibilities in teaching, administration and research. Academics in this transition often make unconscious decisions about their style of leadership or teaching. An important element in dealing with these uncertainties and in taking conscious decisions is access to a strong network, the chance to plan and discuss career opportunities and the opportunity to discuss these issues with role models, mentors and coaches. For this reason, the Regional Studies Association supports the development of a network specifically designed for female early and mid-career researchers in the fields of regional studies and regional science. The aim is to provide a platform for network building and to offer conversations with established female researchers in an informal setting. 

Subscriptions & Comments

Please forward this newsletter to anyone you think will find it of value. We look forward to collaborating with you on this initiative. If you would like to comment on, or contribute to, the content, subscribe or unsubscribe, please contact us at

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