The IPL newsletter: Volume 19, Issue 389


New Jersey Proposes $500 Million Venture Capital Fund

via SSTI Weekly Digest
Inclusive workforce development, downtown revitalization, and an influx of funds for venture capital are among the proposals in an economic development strategy unveiled by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this week. In an effort to focus on bottom-up development rather than a package of tax incentive programs favoring big businesses, the strategy seeks to build the nation’s “most diverse and inclusive innovation economy.” Perhaps the most notable proposal included in the plan is the creation of a $500 million New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (IEF). Developed over a five-year period, roughly half of the funds for the IEF would come from an auction of tax credits to New Jersey corporations. Private venture capital firms hoping to do business with New Jersey startups would match the remainder of the fund, and any company receiving investments through the IEF will need to be based in New Jersey.

Editor's Pick

Facing the Facts: Reconsidering Business Innovation Policy in Canada

Peter Nicholson, IRPP
The federal government’s main strategy to sustain economic prosperity in coming years is through innovation. Yet for decades, successive governments have attempted to promote business innovation and failed. Indeed, Canadian businesses have managed to be successful despite their poor innovation performance. This time may be different. Globalization, technology, sustainability concerns and population aging will inevitably impose a shift to innovation as a core business strategy. Hence the need for an ambitious and comprehensive innovation policy to help promote economic growth. For this strategy to succeed, however, will require nothing less than a whole-of-government approach and a recognition that business is the primary vector of innovation in the economy.

Innovation Policy

ITIF Technology Explainer: What is Blockchain?

Blockchains are digital ledgers that record information that is distributed among a network of computers. Blockchains consist of a series of digital “blocks” that are securely linked together using cryptography. These blocks record information such as financial transactions, agreements between parties, and ownership records. Each computer in the network, referred to as a node, can store a copy of the blockchain. The nodes form a distributed peer-to-peer network, where updates are shared and synchronized between all nodes. Whereas in the past users needed a trusted intermediary, such as a bank or government agency, to ensure the integrity of these types of records, blockchains eliminate the need for a central authority. Instead, blockchains maintain agreement between all participants using a “consensus protocol”—a set of rules that allows nodes to determine when to add new information to the blockchain. This explainer addresses policy implications and challenges inherent in this new technology.

Smart Policies for Harnessing AI

Wonki Min, The Forum Network
The global reach of AI requires a global approach. The OECD is engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on AI with its member countries and beyond, representatives of business, the technical community, labour and civil society and other international organisations. A key outcome of these discussions is the creation of an OECD expert group on artificial intelligence. AI will require governments to rethink how they deliver services and protect the privacy of their citizens. It will require business and labour to balance automation with worker well-being. And it will test the willingness of leading economies and global technology corporations to share the positive benefits as widely as possible.

Considerations for Maintaining U.S. Competitiveness in Quantum Computing, Synthetic Biology, and Other Potentially Transformative Technologies

Government Accountability Office (GAO)
GAO was asked to examine support for research that could lead to transformational technological advances. This report (1) describes
federal agencies’ and nonfederal entities’ support for such research in selected areas, (2) examines federal agencies’ coordination on this
research, and (3) describes experts’ views on considerations for maintaining U.S. competitiveness through such advances. GAO selected
quantum computing and synthetic biology as examples of research areas that could lead to transformational technological advances. GAO recommends that the agencies leading the interagency quantum computing and synthetic biology groups take steps to fully implement leading collaboration practices.

Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence and its Growing Influence on U.S. Policy

Will Hurd and Robin Kelly, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Information Technology
Beginning in February of 2018, the Subcommittee on Information Technology of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a series of hearings on artificial intelligence (AI). In connection with those hearings, majority and minority staff met jointly with experts from academia, industry, and government, and reviewed multiple reports from leading AI experts. Through these efforts, several points became evident. First, AI is an immature technology; its abilities in many areas are still relatively new. Second, the workforce is affected by AI; whether that effect is positive, negative, or neutral remains to be seen. Third, AI requires massive amounts of data, which may invade privacy or perpetuate bias, even when using data for good purposes. Finally, AI has the potential to disrupt every sector of society in both anticipated and unanticipated ways. In light of that potential for disruption, it’s critical that the federal government address the different challenges posed by AI, including its current and future applications. The following paper presents lessons learned from the Subcommittee’s oversight and hearings on AI and sets forth recommendations for moving forward.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

The Rise of the Global Startup City: The New Map of Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital

Richard Florida and Ian Hathaway, Center for American Entrepreneurship
For decades, venture capital was an almost exclusively American phenomenon, and as late as the mid-1990s, nearly all global venture capital investments went to U.S. companies. However, things have changed significantly in recent years. During the second half of the 1990s and throughout the 2000s, venture capital slowly began to flow into locations outside the U.S. The last five years have seen a dramatic rise in startup and venture capital activity in locations in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. In short, the geography of startup activity and venture capital investment is undergoing a rapid and profound period of globalization. To assess the changing global map of startups and venture capital investment, the authors analyze more than 100,000 venture capital deals across more than 300 global metropolitan areas between the years 2005 and 2017, which includes the period before the economic crisis, the Great Recession, and the subsequent recovery. America’s long-held singular dominance of startup and venture capital activity is being challenged by the rapid ascent of cities in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere. While the United States remains the clear global leader, the rest of the world is gaining ground at an accelerating rate.

Statistics & Indicators

OECD Regions and Cities at a Glance 2018

This report looks at how regions and cities across the OECD are progressing towards stronger economies, higher quality of life for their citizens and more inclusive societies. This edition presents regional and metropolitan updates for more than 40 indicators to assess disparities within countries and their evolution since the turn of the new millennium. The report covers all OECD countries and, where data is available, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Lithuania, Peru, the Russian Federation, Tunisia and South Africa. Three new features characterize this edition; first, an assessment migrant integration, based on new indicators produced for OECD regions; second, recent trends on entrepreneurship in regions, with new indicators on creation and destruction of firms and on the jobs associated with such dynamics; third, an assessment of socio-economic conditions, inequalities and poverty in metropolitan areas and their neighbourhoods.

Statewide Initiatives to Advance the Use of Data & Evidence for Decision-Making: A Working Inventory

National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)
Interest in how state governments use data and evidence to inform decisions continues to grow. States have made tremendous progress in this arena in recent years, leveraging performance management systems, administrative data, greater access to research clearinghouses, partnerships with universities and foundations, and other tools and new technologies to advance these efforts. NASBO recently developed this new resource to catalog these efforts – particularly those overseen by budget offices. NASBO collaborated with state budget offices to compile this inventory, which is intended to help budget office staff – and other interested parties – learn more about what other states are doing to leverage data and evidence in budgeting, management and planning.

Policy Digest

AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policy – Conference Summary

This report reflects discussions at the OECD conference “AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies” held in Paris on 26-27 October, 2017. After discussing the state of Artificial intelligence (AI) research – in particular ‘machine learning’ –, speakers illustrated the opportunities that AI provides to improve economies and societies, in areas ranging from scientific discovery and satellite data analysis to music creation. There was broad agreement that the rapid development of AI calls for national and international policy frameworks that engage all stakeholders. Discussions focused on the need for policy to facilitate the adoption of AI systems to promote innovation and growth, help address global challenges, and boost jobs and skills development, while at the same time establishing appropriate safeguards to ensure that AI systems are human-centric and benefit people broadly. Transparency and oversight, algorithmic discrimination and privacy abuses were key concerns, as were new liability, responsibility, security and safety questions.

AI is transforming economic and social sectors deeper and faster than expected. 
AI is neither science fiction nor a science project. There was universal agreement that artificial intelligence already provides beneficial applications that are used every day by people worldwide. Going forward, conference participants suggested that the development and uses of AI systems should be guided by principles that will promote well-being and prosperity while protecting individual rights and democracy. A consensus emerged that the fast-paced and far-reaching changes from AI offer dynamic opportunities for improving the economic and social sectors. AI can make business more productive, improve government efficiency and relieve workers of mundane tasks. It can also address many of our most pressing global problems, such as climate change and wider access to quality education and healthcare.​​​​​​​

AI is moving fast, so should governments.

AI policy is an urgent concern. Speakers pointed out that AI development is at a pivotal point. The rapid pace of AI research, coupled with the speed of its real-world deployment, dramatically shrinks the time frame and the distinction between fundamental research and the impact of AI on work and play. Driven by private sector research, the leap from the lab to the office or factory floor has decreased progressively over the last five years. These factors underscore the need for a robust and timely engagement between government, industry, policy and technical experts and the public. A recurring theme was the potential for AI to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of entire sectors, including the delivery of public services. Applied wisely, AI can improve well-being of people in areas like education, public safety, health and work-life balance. Governments need to plan for the investing in and developing of AI for its many benefits.

New policies are necessary to adapt to AI in the workplace
Another key focus was the role of AI in defining the future of work. AI is taking over some tasks long performed by humans. These changes will create new opportunities in the workplace and work-life balance. But they will also disrupt the livelihoods of millions of people. There was uncertainty about the speed and scale of the transition, but a consensus that governments should adapt existing policies and develop new strategies that prepare citizens, educators and businesses for the jobs of the future and minimize the negative impacts. An emphasis was placed on education and training for workers coming into the labour force and retraining for those displaced by AI.

Benefiting from AI requires enhanced access to data
The dependence of AI on vast quantities of data creates complex legal, cultural and technical issues surrounding data protection, data regulation and the data economy. One of the strongest themes that emerged from the conference was the need for enhanced access to data to leverage AI broadly, through open data policies, data interoperability and data format standardization as well as better management of personal data. Current machine learning technologies require curated and accurate data to enable companies, research institutes and the public sector to create innovative products and services.

Threats to individual privacy and democratic principles must be addressed
The exponential growth of AI, and corresponding consumption and analysis of big data, has underscored the need for new policies and standards to protect individual data and safeguard democratic institutions, according to participants. Recent controversies about the role of social networking platforms in misuse of personal data and allegations of interference in democratic processes illustrate the growing challenges to existing privacy frameworks. Multi-disciplinary teams were proposed as a means of embedding privacy into AI solutions and conducting privacy impact assessments to balance privacy against functionality and flexibility of the technology.

A call for fairness and accountability
A key conference takeaway was a call for transparency in AI decision-making to ensure fairness and accountability. This was particularly critical for AI-powered decisions that have an impact on individual lives. One participant said transparency in AI, often referred to as “explainability,” should allow people to understand both how an AI system operates and the chain of reasoning leading to a decision. Rather than opening the “black box” of algorithms, which would require a level of technical understanding beyond most people, explainability would help users understand how AI systems are developed, trained and deployed. Participants also emphasized the need for transparency and accountability for high-stakes AI applications in criminal justice, driverless vehicles, personal finance and healthcare.

The articulation of common principles for AI in society is needed
Common themes emerged from several sets of proposed guidelines and best practices discussed over the two days of the conference. Among the frameworks that helped inform the discussion were the Ethically Aligned Design principles and standards being developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers through its “Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations  in the Design of Autonomous Systems;” the Asilomar Principles from the Future of Life Institute; the guidelines on AI R&D developed by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for researchers and developers of AI systems; the “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society,” which plans to develop high level of principles and guidelines to assist AI researchers and developers; the UNI Global Union Principles; Microsoft principles for the Partnership of the Future; the Principles by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM); and the AI Initiative and the UK Principles of Robotics.

The discussions highlighted the opportunity for the OECD to build on the existing principles and knowledge with its partners to identify key principles for public policy and international cooperation in AI. The OECD was viewed as a strong forum to develop international guidelines underpinned by its focus on evidence and measurement and the effective involvement of multiple stakeholders and social partners in its work.


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.

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. 

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.

CFP: WICK#6 PhD Workshop: Economics of Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge

Turin, Italy, 9-10 January, 2019
The main topics the workshop will cover are Economics of Knowledge and Innovation, with a special focus on Firm and Regional Innovation Strategies, Economics of Science, Green Innovation, Smart cities, and Energy policy. Sessions will be methodologically heterogeneous. Econometric contributions, as well as Complex Network Analysis and computational methods, such as Agent-Based Models, are very welcome. The event will feature keynote contributions from Prof. Massimo Riccaboni (IMT Lucca and KU Leuven), Dr. Giovanni Marin (University of Urbino) and Dr. Ernest Miguelez (CNRS and GREThA, University of Bordeaux).


Bordeaux, France, 20-21 May, 2019
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 2016 or later). Up to 18 papers will be selected from open submissions on the basis of peer review. Contributions are invited on (but not limited to) one or more of the following topics:

  • The evaluation of science policy
  • Organising research activities in universities, PROs and private R&D labs
  • Spillovers from scientific research
  • Role of gender and family in scientific research
  • Science research networks and collaboration
  • Scientific careers and mobility

Deadline for the submission of papers or extended abstracts (min 3 pages) is January 31st 2019. Submissions should be previously unpublished works. All submissions are reviewed with respect to novelty, academic quality and relevance.

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