The IPL newsletter: Volume 20, Issue 411

News from the IPL

Shauna Brail comments on Uber’s new safety features

In response to hundreds of sexual assault allegations and the murder of a woman who entered the car of a man posing as a driver, Uber has recently rolled out new safety features to better protect drivers and passengers. Shauna Brail comments on the new features in an article for

Dan Breznitz in the Financial Post: ‘The American Disease’: Canadian companies pouring cash into stock buybacks as backlash grows abroad

Canadian companies are pouring cash into stock buybacks as backlash grows abroad. Critics say buybacks suppress wages, drive inequality, decrease investment, hurt competitiveness and destroy economies. Dan Breznitz comments in the Financial Post.

2019-2020 IPL Speaker Series

Testbeds as innovation policy: A survey

Neil Lee, Associate Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science
November 28, 2019, 2:00-4:00pm
Room 108N, 1 Devonshire Place Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

What does open science entail?

Diana Hicks, Professor, the School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology
February 20, 2020, 2:00-4:00pm
Room 208N, 1 Devonshire Place, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy


Editor's Pick

The Work of the Future: Shaping Technology and Institutions

MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future
Convened in spring 2018, the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future has recently released a report focusing on the relationship between technology and employment in the context of rising productivity and stagnant incomes. The report reflects on the historical relationship between technological change and work to illustrate distinctive features about the current era. In addition to prioritizing education investments, the authors highlight four policy areas with potential for addressing the future of work: rebalancing fiscal policies away from subsidizing investment in physical capital to human capital, restoring the role of workers as stakeholders in corporate decision-making, fostering technological and organizational innovation to complement workers, and reinvigorating America’s leadership position in technology and innovation.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Talent-driven Economic Development: A New Vision and Agenda for Regional and State Economies

Joseph Parilla & Sifan Liu, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Project
This report emphasizes that workforce capabilities far surpass any other driver of economic development.  Economies grow when they develop and deploy their people in ways that maximize their productive potential.  However, challenges to workforce development include a narrow conceptualization of skill development pathways as well as shifting private sector needs. The report offers recommendations for local policymakers in light of the fact that economic development organizations (EDOs) were not originally designed to address these labor market challenges.

What Drives the Geography of Jobs in the US? Unpacking Relatedness

Teresa Farinha, Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Andrea Morrison & Ron Boschma, Industry & Innovation
While there is ample evidence of regions diversifying in new occupations that are related to pre-existing activities, little is known about the mechanisms through which this ‘related diversification’ operates. This recent paper distinguishes between three mechanisms: complementarity (interdependent tasks), similarity (sharing similar skills) and local synergy (based on pure co-location). The authors measure these mechanisms in the evolution of the occupational structure of 389 US Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) for the period 2005–2016. Results show that new jobs appearing in MSA’s are related to existing ones, while those more likely to disappear are more unrelated to a city’s jobs’ portfolio.  Local synergy shows the largest impact on entry and exit of jobs in US cities.

Innovation Policy

An Innovation Challenge For the United States

The Aspen Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
This report asserts that the conditions which propelled the US to innovation leadership have diminished over time.  The innovation challenge facing the US is exacerbated by aging infrastructure, global competition for talent, the changing nature of innovation, low trust in government, and reduced spending on foundational research.  The report raises concerns about declining U.S. government R&D funding in the context of rising investment by peer countries.  In addition to calling for a ‘national research and development agenda,” the report calls for policies encouraging competition, trade, immigration,  affordable education, protection of American intellectual property, and risk-taking.

From Technology and Capitalism, a Hopeful Remedy For the Planet

Andrew McAfee, MIT Management, Sloan School
This article features excerpts from the introduction of McAfee’s new book “More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next.” McAfee’s argument is that the computer, the internet, and a suite of other digital technologies have enabled humanity to dematerialize consumption, enabling more consumption while taking less and less from the planet. This happened because “digital technologies offered the cost savings that come from substituting bits for atoms, and the intense cost pressures of capitalism caused companies to accept this offer over and over.” In addition to capitalism and technological progress, public awareness and responsive governments are also identified as key drivers of this process.

Promoting Innovation For Low-carbon Technologies

David Popp, Brookings Institute, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
This report puts forward policy guidelines for promoting innovation on low-carbon energy technologies.  The report summarizes recent evidence on the effectiveness of multiple policy instruments.  The report offers advice for targeting government energy R&D spending on long-term needs that are less likely to receive private sector support, as well as efforts to support commercialization.  Specifically, these targeted policies are summarized in two categories: (1) those that address innovation market failures and thus complement broad-based carbon pricing, and (2) those likely to be more politically feasible than broad-based carbon pricing, but that could be removed should a sufficiently high carbon price be implemented. Finally, guidelines for state and local governments are discussed.

Statistics & Indicators

Measuring R&D Tax Support

Silvia Appelt, Fernando Galindo-Rueda and Ana Cinta González Cabral
OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers
Over the past two decades, tax incentives have become a key policy instrument for promoting business R&D. This raises a number of policy questions: How has the role of tax incentives in the R&D support policy mix evolved across OECD countries and other major economies? How generous are tax relief provisions for different types of firms? How effective are they in stimulating business R&D investment? The OECD R&D Tax Incentives Database ( aims to contribute to the data infrastructure available to policy makers and researchers to examine the use and impact of R&D tax incentives across OECD countries and partner economies. This paper provides a practical guide to using this new database, describing the recently released R&D tax incentive data and highlighting their potential for internationally comparative work through descriptive indicators and econometric analysis.

U.S. Funding for University Research Continues to Slide

Robert D. Atkinson & Caleb Foote, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
This report illustrates how the U.S. funding for university research as a share of GDP has declined to 28th of 39 countries, with the 12 leading governments investing more than double the U.S. In response, the authors urge Congress to increase university support by $45 billion per year, which would place the U.S. in the top seven countries. The authors emphasize that innovation fuels long-run economic growth and that universities have played an increasing role in that system compared to decreased business R&D efforts.

Policy Digest

Governance of Science and Technology Policies

Alan Paici and Camille Virosi,
OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers

This paper surveys innovation policy governance mechanisms drawn from 13 country-level and supranational case studies.  The study discusses the governance issues stemming from the emergence of “Mission-oriented” innovation policies aiming to resolve grand societal challenges.  This emphasis on solving societal challenges such as climate change (‘transition failures’) is being layered on top of existing policies aimed at boosting competitiveness via the provision of public goods such as R&D (‘market failures’) and alleviating innovation bottlenecks (‘system failures’).  The authors notes that “the new paradigms complement, rather than replace, the old ones – a “multi-layer” vision of public policies should be adopted, where ”transformative” innovation policy superimposes itself on traditional science and technology policies on the one hand, and on the innovation system on the other hand” (p. 11).

The authors rely on the OECD-STIP database to detail the most popular policy instruments.  Of the 26 instrument categories, the most popular are direct financial support mechanisms, followed by collaborative platforms and infrastructures (networks, competitiveness centres), regulatory instruments and, indirect financial support instruments, including tax credits. The budgets of the 13 STI initiatives range from under EUR 1 million per year to more than EUR 10 billion per year for large-scale multi-sectoral programs, such as Horizon2020 in the European Union, and High-tech Strategy in Germany.

The report finds that the following governance dimensions facilitate the success of STI policies:

  • Commitment at the highest level of government is a crucial means to send a signal to all stakeholders.
  • The implication of stakeholders, and in particular civil society and the private sector, is also deemed to be important in the public policy design phase.
  • The diversity of instruments employed necessitates the use of coherent and specific objectives, the promotion of synergies and the prevention of potentially negative impacts.
  • Governments must demonstrate flexibility in setting priorities to be able to respond to increasingly rapid technological and societal evolutions.
  • Systematic evaluation and monitoring enables governments to continuously improve the policy framework and ensure increasing impact over time.
  • Available programs are being harmonized and rationalized, to simplify and optimize target stakeholders’ access via a single “window” rather than multiple calls for proposals. This enhances efficiency in the granting process and reduces administrative costs.


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.

Canadian Science Policy Conference

Ottawa, Canada, 13-15 November, 2019
This is the annual conference of the Canadian Science Policy Centre, is a non-profit, non-partisan, and non-advocate organization established 10 years ago. Topics include: Innovation & Economic Development, International Affairs & Economic Security, Science & Policy, Science & Society, and Science & the Next Generation.

Research Workshop on International Dimensions of Academic Entrepreneurship – Call for Abstracts

Brussels, Belgium, 12 December, 2019
This workshop invites contributions on the links between academic entrepreneurship and the internationalization of higher education.  Submission of abstracts are welcome until the 15th of November. The three areas of focus include: the emergence of international academic entrepreneurship, synergies between international education/research activities and academic entrepreneurship, and academic entrepreneurship in an international context.

Rethinking Culture and Creativity in the Technological Era

Florence, Italy, 20-21 February, 2020
The conference focuses on the following questions: how the digital revolution may affect the cultural and creative sectors? What are the new challenges for the management of cultural heritage in the technological Era?  It is the first event of a pluriannual program organized in collaboration with the University of Florence, the University of Catania and the University of Campania ‘Luigi Vanvitelli’. The purpose of the program is to create a network of scholars in topics related to economics and management of culture and creativity and to contribute to the current debate and emergent issues of the cultural and creative economy.

The Organisation, Economics and Policy of Scientific Research

Munich, Germany, 23–24 April, 2020
The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, the Technical University of Munich and BRICK-Collegio Carlo Alberto are organising the annual workshop “The Organisation, Economics and Policy of Scientific Research” at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Submissions are accepted until 15 January 2020, with particular focus on: Evaluation of science policy; Role of gender and family in scientific research; Organising research activities in universities, PROs and private R&D labs, Spillovers from scientific research, Collaboration and research networks, Scientific careers and mobility, and the Role of ethics, trust and replicability in science.

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This newsletter is prepared by Travis Southin.
Project manager is David A. Wolfe.