The IPL newsletter: Volume 20, Issue 406

News from the IPL


EDA Announces $23 Million for 2019 Regional Innovation Strategies Cohort

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced Regional Innovation Strategies awards — i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support — to 44 organizations. Those awards are worth $23.5 million in federal funding matched by $26 million from a variety of private and public sector sources for nearly $50 million for projects to support entrepreneurship and innovation in 28 states and two territories.

Government of Canada Invests $137M in CANARIE to Renew its Mandate for 2020-2024

The Government of Canada recently invested $137M to support CANARIE’s digital research infrastructure from 2020 – 2024. CANARIE’s activities in its next mandate will focus on network evolution, with an emphasis on cloud technology, big data, cybersecurity, and global research collaborations. The Government of Canada also provided $8M to CANARIE to advance northern connectivity and cybersecurity initiatives in the last year of its current mandate.

Federal Government Launches Patent Collective, Public Marketplace for IP

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development recently announced the launch of a federally incorporated non-profit called Innovation Asset Collective (IAC) to develop and run a patent collective. The collective will run as a four-year $30 million pilot program. Minister Bains also announced the launch of ExploreIP, a new federally-run marketplace of publicly owned IP where Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses can contact more than 2,500 patent owners through the platform to negotiate a licence or collaboration agreement.

Editor's Pick

The Future of Work in America: People and Places, Today and Tomorrow

McKinsey Global Institute
This report examines the divergent impacts that automation may have on the future of work at the local level in the United States.  Analysis of 315 cities and 3,000 counties under various automation forecasts yields disparate outlooks, with urban core, urban periphery, and niche cities best positioned for future employment growth.  The report categorized U.S. cities and counties into 13 archetypes based on attributes such as economic health, business dynamism, industry mix, and labor force demographics. Twenty five megacities and high-growth hubs, where 96 million people live, have generated most of the nation’s job growth since the Great Recession.  By contrast, 54 trailing cities and roughly 2,000 rural counties that are home to one-quarter of the US population have older and shrinking workforces, higher unemployment, and lower educational attainment. Automation technologies may widen these disparities at a time when workforce mobility is at historic lows.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Metro-to-Metro Economic Partnerships: How to Network Global Assets to Fuel Regional Growth

Marek Gootman, Rachel Barker, and Max Bouchet, Brookings
This report addresses the growing trend of metro-to-metro economic partnerships, which extend the idea of direct city-to-city cultural relationships to the imperative of global economic exchange and standing out in an increasingly complex world economy.  The report relies on a survey of metro-to-metro partnerships by the Global Cities Initiative to argue that in order to enhance regional competitiveness, city-regions need to prioritize, design, and operationalize metro-to-metro economic partnerships.  The report asserts that economic partnerships should managed regionally to support the goal of extending and strengthening global specializations. 

Innovation Policy

Evolution and Co-evolution of Regional Innovation Processes

Michael Fritsch, Muhamed Kudic, and Andreas Pyka, Regional Studies
This editorial to a new special issue of Regional Studies summarizes the state of academic research on the ‘evolution and co-evolution of regional innovation processes.’  This editorial outlines the general theme of the special issue and briefly summarizes the main results of the contributions. It ends with some critical considerations and an outlook on future research needs.

Ideas for Pennsylvania Innovation: Examining efforts by competitor states and national leaders

Robert Maxim & Mark Muro, Brookings
This report examines innovation policy options to return the state of Pennsylvania to its previous status as an innovation leader.  The report notes that the state should build upon strong regional assets such as a robust university system that generates significant R&D, as well as a set of capable technology-based economic development programs that operate across the state.  A policy scan surveys ongoing initiatives in states seen as both competitor states and as national innovation leaders that contend with challenges similar to Pennsylvania’s.  The report highlights 20 initiatives currently underway that states have designed to achieve the following outcomes: create an evidence-based state innovation strategy; strengthen business R&D in the state; bolster state investment in early stage financing; and mitigate significant spatial divergence.

Statistics & Indicators

Connecting the Dots: Linking Canadian Occupations to Skills Data

Viet Vu, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship
Economists at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship have created and shared a crosswalk between Canadian National Occupational Classifications and the US Department of Labour’s O*Net occupations.  This helps researchers to better understand the skills, knowledge, and abilities that make up the 500 national occupations in Canada.  The researchers note that although O*Net is “commonly cited as one of the most comprehensive databases available on the skill content of occupations…there is currently no crosswalk between NOC and O*Net occupations that is publicly available.”

Record Value Set for VC-Backed Exits in First Half of 2019

National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook
The first half of 2019 saw a record-setting $188.5 billion in venture-backed exit value, according to VentureMonitor, the quarterly report on US venture capital investment compiled by the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook.  This figure surpasses the full-year total for all prior years, in large part due to 34 large IPOs, including Uber, Zoom and Pinterest.  Notably, Uber’s IPO in May accounted for about 59 percent of the venture-backed exit value in the second quarter.  Additionally, Total venture capital investment through the first half of 2019 reached $66 billion and is nearly on pace to match the record lev­­els of ca­­pital invested in 2018. The period saw an increase in the number of firms who were able to raise over $100 million in ‘mega-deals’, as 123 closed in 1H 2019, accounting for 44.6% of total VC investment, up from 13.1% in 2013.

Canadian VC Investment Down by 13% in First Half of Year

PwC Moneytree Report
The first half of 2019 saw $1.66 billion USD VC investment in Canadian firms, which is 13% lower than the first half of 2018. Deal volume has also declined by 15%, with H1 2019 seeing 240 deals compared to 281 deals in H1 2018.  There was growing interest by VCs in funding earlier stage firms, with seed-stage deals accounting for 49 percent of all deals in H1 2019 compared to 36 percent of all deals in H1 2018. Hamilton-based Fusion Pharmaceuticals’ $105 million round was the period’s only ‘mega-round’ (over $100 million). 

Policy Digest

Building Excellence: The Expert Panel on Leading Practices for Transforming Canadian Science Through Infrastructure

Council of Canadian Academies
Following Budget 2018’s commitment of $2.8 billion to renew federal science laboratories, Public Services and Procurement Canada asked the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to assess the evidence on leading practices for federal S&T infrastructure investment decisions. The question was worded as follows: “What is known about leading practices for evaluating proposals for science and technology infrastructure investments that is relevant to Canadian federal science for the future?”

 In response, the Panel examined evidence for reviewing research infrastructure proposals in:
• Australia: National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS);
• Canada: Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI);
• Denmark: Nationalt Udvalg for Forskningsinfrastruktur [National Committee for Research Infrastructure] (NUFI);
• European Union: European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI);
• Germany: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung [Federal Ministry of Education and Research] (BMBF);
• United Kingdom: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC);
• United States: Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC). 

CCA’s Building Excellence report distills key theoretical and practical considerations in developing principles, criteria, decision-making structures, and processes for assessing and investing in collaborative S&T infrastructure. 

Guiding Principles and Criteria

Leading practices in decision-making for S&T infrastructure investments take into consideration four principles: scientific excellence, collaboration, feasibility, and broader impacts.

  • Scientific Excellence: Evaluations of scientific excellence for government S&T infrastructure investments differ from those in academia or industry because they must include consideration of government mandates, which can frequently shift.  Therefore, infrastructure investments that promote flexibility, connectivity, and modularity of facility design can enhance future adaptability to changing needs. 
  • Collaboration: S&T infrastructure designed to facilitate collaboration can amplify science outcomes and lead to solutions for complex challenges. Collaborative S&T infrastructure proposals highlight the ways that new users can find opportunities for engagement within a facility, and support building relationships by addressing potential barriers to access.
  • Feasibility: Assessing the long-term feasibility of proposed S&T infrastructure requires consideration of ownership, governance, and management.  This is particularly the case for shared facilities. The report recommends a stage-gated process allows for the evaluation of various aspects of feasibility (e.g., technical, financial, managerial, social, regulatory, environmental) by scientific and non-scientific professionals.
  • Broader Impacts: The evaluation process for proposed large-scale S&T infrastructure investments should include consideration of the project’s broad economic and social impacts.  Though future impacts are difficult to assess, proposals can be evaluated on the credibility and logic of the pathways to expected impacts.

Design of Decision-making Processes and Advisory Structures 

  • A “Middle-out” Approach to Developing Proposals: Funders should request proposals that address specific objectives and manage a process in which the S&T community refines proposals collaboratively. Compared to strictly top-down and bottom-up approaches, a ‘middle-out’ approach better facilitates relationship building from the outset of the proposal.  This allows the S&T community to co-create promising proposals that meet government needs.
  • Strategic Roadmapping: A clear vision and strategy for prioritizing S&T infrastructure investments (e.g., roadmapping) is critical to the decision-making process. The report notes the value of conducting high level assessments so as to facilitate making timely S&T infrastructure investments. Co-creating roadmaps with stakeholders can also provide an opportunity to develop collaborative relationships.


RSA North America Conference – The Call of the New: Unpacking Innovation, its Spatiality, its Benefits and its Costs

Montreal, 25-27 September, 2019
This conference will provide the opportunity for urban and regional scholars to grapple with the complexities of innovation and change, qualifying the idea of innovation, questioning the institutions that organize and channel it, and exploring the actors, private, public and civil society, who instigate change and cope with its consequences. To what extent are innovative processes regionally embedded? Can radical innovation occur within the current institutional context? Who innovates? Who benefits? Is it possible, or useful, to think through the consequences of innovation? Is it always necessary or advisable to innovate? Can innovation lead to more inclusive forms of growth? How does innovation impact cities and regions – in terms of their governance, their economies, their infrastructure and their social cohesion? And, conversely, how do cities and regions, as politics, innovate, influence innovation, adapt to change, and channel its consequences? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in Montreal.

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. 

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. Opportunities to watch parts of the proceedings streaming online.  Full details on the sessions are available at the Atlanta Conference site.

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 Travis Southin.
Project manager is David A. Wolfe.