The IPL newsletter: Volume 19, Issue 398


Fueled by Business, US R&D Performance Eclipses Half-Trillion Dollar Mark in 2016 and 2017

SSTI Weekly Digest
For the first time, total research and development performed in the United States has surpassed $500 billion, reaching $515.3 billion in 2016, a $22 billion (4.4 percent) increase from the previous year, according to a recent info brief from the National Science Foundation. Furthermore, NSF estimates that larger increases are ahead, with early projections for 2017 showing an additional $26.9 billion increase (5.2 percent). Business R&D, which represented 72.7 percent of the nation’s total in 2016, was the main driver of the growth between 2015 and 2016: 87.3 percent of new R&D performed in the U.S. during those years was from the private sector. Intramural federal research performance was the only segment to see declines between 2015 and 2016, according to the brief.

Editor's Pick

Environmental Policy and Innovation: A Decade of Research

David Popp, NBER
Innovation is an important part of environmental policy, and encouraging innovation is often an explicit goal of policymakers. A large literature in environmental economics examines the links between environmental policy and innovation. This paper updates a previous review, highlighting research published during the past decade, with a focus on empirical research examining links between environmental policy and environmentally friendly innovation. It highlights major trends in the literature, including an increased number of cross-country studies and a focus on the effect of different policy instruments on innovation. It includes a discussion of the justifications and evidence for technology-specific policy incentives and present evidence on the effectiveness of government R&D spending. The review concludes with a discussion of three promising areas for new research on environmental innovation.

Innovation Policy

The Bayh-Doyle Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life Sciences Innovation System

Stephen Ezell, ITIF
The United States leads the world in novel biomedical innovation, thanks in large part to its strong research universities, talented researchers, efficient drug approval processes, and a pricing system that enables companies to earn sufficient revenues to reinvest in future generations of innovation. Yet two other factors are indispensable: First, world-leading public and private investment in life-sciences research and development (R&D) activity, with these public and private investments playing unique yet complementary roles in America’s life-sciences innovation system. Second, effective technology transfer and commercialization policies that enable federally funded basic life-sciences research, often taking place at U.S. universities, to lead to research discoveries and inventions that can be patented and licensed to private-sector entities, which then undertake the risky, complex, and expensive process of bringing innovative new medicines and therapies to market. Underpinning this successful ecosystem is bipartisan legislation that gives universities rights to intellectual property (IP) generated from federal funding: the Bayh-Dole Act. Since its introduction in 1980, the act has played a catalytic role in stimulating innovation across many sectors, and especially in the life-sciences. However, calls made by some to use Bayh-Dole “march-in right” provisions to control drug prices threaten to undermine this successful ecosystem and reduce the pace of American biopharmaceutical innovation.

Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in Innovation: Roundtable Report

The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
In this report, the Institute presents the challenges of incorporating gender equality, diversity, and inclusion into clusters in Canada, particularly into the five Superclusters, as well as a number of recommendations. The Institute, in partnership with the WE EMPOWER Programme of UN Women, hosted a roundtable on January 25, 2019 with 30 leaders from a variety of backgrounds. As the roundtable followed Chatham House Rules, individual respondents are not identified but their insights are incorporated into this White Paper.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Higher Education, Regional Development, and Smart Specialization

John Edwards and Maria Palladino, RSA Regions
In this insights article, John Edwards and Maria Palladino explore the challenges faced by the European Commission in implementing smart specialization policies with higher education institutes (HEIs). With reference to the Higher Education for Smart Specialisation (HESS) project, they present six lessons on how to create projects that align the aims of smart specialization with those of HEIs.

Statistics and Indicators

Useful Stats: Distribution of R&D Performance by State

SSTI Weekly Digest
Nearly three-quarters of all research and development was performed by the private sector in the fiscal year 2016, though this share differed greatly across the states, according to an SSTI analysis of recently released data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF NCSES). Delaware showed the greatest concentration of business R&D (90.5 percent of all R&D in the state), while Tennessee had the most diversified R&D portfolio with a roughly even distribution of R&D performed by businesses, higher education and federally funded R&D centers (FFRDC’s). The interactive chart below shows the breakdown of performers of research and development for each state.

Policy Digest

Five Economic Development Takeaways from the Amazon HQ2 Bids

Nathan M. Jensen, Brookings
Amazon’s decision to cancel its New York headquarters investment has led to intense debate among academics, politicians, and civil society. The split culminated Amazon’s very public search process in which 238 U.S. cities submitted detailed bids to the company to host its “second headquarters,” or HQ2. Many of these bids remain secret, shielded from public records laws due to exceptions to public disclosure of economic development projects, or the use of non-public entities, such as Chambers of Commerce, to submit the bid. But for 26 publicly-released bids, we have a rare opportunity to peek under the hood of U.S. regional economic development. This post highlights the five main takeaways from a review of these bids.


The reality is that most corporate site selection processes remain outside the public eye. The fact that Amazon made this a public competition led to additional scrutiny of the site selection process. Numerous local journalists, such as those in the Dallas and Denver areas, were able to explore local proposals and reveal more about this process than most other economic development deals.


Many Amazon bids included an acknowledgment section and letters of support from elected officials, university presidents, CEOs, and other civic and nonprofit groups. It is hard to know how involved each of these letter writers were in putting together the bids, but at the very least, we know who definitely was not at the table. Across all 26 bids, there was not a single letter from an environmental group and few letters of support from organizations focusing on affordable housing. In only three cities— Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and St. Louis—was there any endorsement from organized labor, and that was from the building trades. Other than these few letters of support, there is almost no evidence of broader community involvement in any of these bids.


In Amazon’s request for proposals (RFP), the company encouraged cities to think big. But in most cases, the creative thinking was exclusively focused on incentive offers. Cities varied in their strategic responses to Amazon, but many of the proposals only offered existing economic development incentives. For example, New York’s offer to Amazon, which used existing state and city programs, only scaled up to 50,000 jobs. New York’s state and city incentive offer for half of HQ2 has been estimated at $3.5 billion.


In the RFP, Amazon asked for one application from each metropolitan area, hoping to incentivize regionalism. Although there were a small number of regional bids, there was very little regional collaboration. In the Greater Washington metropolitan area, the Northern Virginia suburbs, Maryland suburbs, and the District of Columbia all submitted separate bids. In the Dallas region, individual municipalities proposed competing incentive offers, including offering different Texas state incentives. Even New York’s winning bid had an odd tacked-on section for Staten Island that looked more like a cut and paste addition than a seamless regional pitch.


Some cities also refused to play the incentive game, only providing a list of existing incentive programs. Even in the second round when Amazon requested additional details on the amount of incentives and their dollar value (with a 6 percent discount rate), cities such as Boston didn’t offer up those dollar figures. Although Virginia offered some firm-specific incentives, Brookings’ Amy Liu argues that many of these incentives were for broader infrastructure and workforce development.


Workshop Series on Migration, Globalization and the Knowledge Economy

Utrecht, Netherlands, 16-17 May, 2019
The workshop will consist of a 2-day plenary session with presentations and discussions, and two keynote speakers. The keynote speakers of the Utrecht workshop will be Ina Ganguli, from University of Massachusetts, and Ufuk Akcigit, from the University of Chicago. We aim to attract both senior and junior scholars dealing with research topics such as the role of high-skilled migration in fostering innovation in receiving countries, the relationship between diversity and innovation, the role of skilled diasporas and return migrants in diffusing knowledge back to their home countries, the emerging role of MNC in shaping scientists’ and engineers’ migration flows as well as temporary migration and knowledge sharing, migration and innovation-based start-ups formation, regions and mobility, and so forth.

8th ZEW/MaCCI Conference on the Economics of Innovation and Patenting

Manheim, Germany, 16-17 May, 2019
The conference aims to stimulate discussion between international researchers conducting related empirical and theoretical analysis. In addition to keynote lectures by Professor Dietmar Harhoff and Professor Timothy Simcoe as well as parallel sessions, there will also be an invited session on innovative public procurement with Professor Dirk Czarnitzki and Professor Giancarlo Spagnolo. Theoretical and empirical contributions from all areas of the economics of innovation and patenting are welcome. Interested researchers are invited to submit a paper or an extended abstract (min. 3 pages) in PDF format to no later than 15 February 2019.


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.

CFP: A Great Transformation? Workshop on the Impact of Automation and Artificial Intelligence on Regional Economies

Torino, Italy, 27-28 May, 2019
RENIR and Despina are pleased to announce the RENIR Workshop on the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on regional economies, sponsored by Collegio Carlo Alberto and the University of Turin.We aim to attract contributions from both junior and senior scholars. Up to 18 papers will be selected from open submissions on the basis of peer review.

CFP: 2019 University-Industry Interaction Conference

Helsinki, Finland, 18-20 June, 2019
This key event for university leaders, practitioners from both business and university, policymakers and educators attracts more than 500 participants from over 60 countries to interact, share knowledge and establish new relationships. During this three-day event, you will encounter presentations from over 100 organisations, tour innovation spaces, have access to a wide variety of workshops and participate in numerous networking opportunities to gain new insights into the bigger picture of university-industry interaction.


Copenhagen, Denmark, 19-21 June, 2019
Since 1996, DRUID has become one of the world’s premier academic conferences on innovation and the dynamics of structural, institutional and geographic change. DRUID is proud to invite senior and junior scholars to participate and contribute with a paper to DRUID19, hosted by Copenhagen Business School. Presenting distinguished plenary speakers, a range of parallel paper sessions, and an attractive social program, the conference aims at mapping theoretical, empirical and methodological advances, contributing novel insights, and help identifying scholarly positions, divisions, and common grounds in current scientific controversies within the field. Keynotes delivered by top scholars from innovation studies, management, economic geography, and numerous other research fields. Plenary speakers at DRUID19 include Stefano Brusoni, Dimo Dimov, Nijanlana Dutt, Annabel Gawer, Martine Haas, Adam B. Jaffe, Michael G. Jacobides, Sarah Kaplan and Dan Levinthal.

The 2019 Technology Transfer Society Annual Conference

Toronto, 26-28 September, 2019
The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and the Technology Transfer Society would like to invite you to submit a paper* to the 2019 Technology Transfer Conference. The main themes of the Conference will revolve around technology transfer and innovation policy, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship (with a focus on universities), and inclusive innovation. Submissions featuring longitudinal and historical studies, ideally using mixed-methods research are particularly encouraged. Submissions based on other methods are also welcome. For more information on how to submit an abstract, visit the Call for Papers page.

Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy

Atlanta, GA, 14-17 October, 2019
The Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy provides a showcase for the highest quality scholarship addressing the multidimensional challenges and interrelated characteristics of science and innovation policy and processes.

Regional Innovation Policies 2019: Technological Chance, Social Innovation, and Regional Transformation

Florence, Italy, 7-8 November, 2019
The Conference will focus on the paths of regional transformation that emerge as a response to technological and social change. Sustainability issues require regions to face change by trying to balance economic growth with social innovation. We will discuss the role that regional policies can play within such scenarios, by supporting the creation of new assets and resources, as well as favouring multi-level alignments of visions and interests.

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