The IPL newsletter: Volume 20, Issue 415

News from the IPL


Interview conducted by Travis Southin and Zissis Hadjis. November 26, 2019

Darius Ornston is Associate Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto where he specializes in innovation policy, comparative politics, and Nordic Europe.

In a sentence or two, describe your area of research. Why is it important and interesting to you? Why did you decide to pursue it?
I have two interests which are interconnected. The first is the political economy of small states, and the other is the politics of cooperation. I’m fascinated at how some of these small states are able to navigate the global economy successfully, especially since they don’t get to set the rules of the system. This is largely a story about their ability to cooperate domestically, which is what drew me into the politics of cooperation and is a theme the connects pretty much all of the research that I do.

Are there any updates from your work or current projects that you can share?
I have a book titled “Good Governance Gone Bad: How Nordic Adaptability Leads to Excess” that was published in 2018. It highlights the transformative power of small state networks, enabling the Nordic countries to continuously reinvent themselves in the face of economic and technological shocks. I also illustrate that this pattern of cooperation gets them into trouble and leads to over-shooting, over-investment, and excess. I think those are two lessons that everyone can take to heart – that you can use cooperation as a dynamic resource to accelerate restructuring, but it can also be a neglected source of vulnerability.

What impact do you hope your research can have?
I hope that the work on small states encourages people in large and medium-sized countries to think more creatively about how they can navigate the constraints in the international economy, rather than just being aware of all of the ways in which they’re limited. I think everyone’s in a position to learn from the strategies that small states have been using for decades.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing your area of research?
I think how you create cooperation in low-trust environments is a really challenging question that we don’t have good answers to yet. But, I also think finding solutions to this problem is a big opportunity.

What do you think the innovation landscape will look like in 5 or 10 years?
I think innovation is going to become more politically salient. More people are going to care about innovation, politicians are going to get more involved, and different types of actors will want to influence innovation policy and shape the direction of innovation.

What was the best book (or article) you’ve read recently? Why?
I really enjoyed “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles”, written by Michael Storper, Naji Makarem, and Thomas Kemeny. I like that book, not only because I think ideas and collective identities are important to innovation, but because it’s so well written. To the extent that the public is going to be more involved in innovation policy, I think it’s important to have clear and accessible writing on innovation.

What advice would you give a new graduate student studying innovation?
Because innovation is a multi-disciplinary area, I’ve always viewed it as an opportunity to ask: What is your comparative advantage? What do you bring to the table? Even if you don’t clearly identify as a political scientist, a sociologist, or an economist, I think you can still contribute to these debates by thinking about what you can bring to the discussion.

2019-2020 IPL Speaker Series

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

Toronto Employment Survey 2019 Special Topic: Toronto’s Technology Sector

City of Toronto
This report summarizes recent results from the 2019 Toronto Employment Survey, which undertook a special investigation of Toronto’s technology sector as part of its 2019 programme. This investigation presents and analyzes the recent economic growth and spatial clustering of the sector, using data collected from the Survey, supplemented by urban economic growth literature, and interviews conducted with local technology firms to explore their locational preferences. Key findings indicate that the labour force, and access to it, are the dominant drivers shaping the technology sector in Toronto today. The survey shows evidence of the growth and spatial clustering of the sector, with both employment and the total number of technology establishments almost doubling within the past 5 years.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

On The Concentration of Innovation In Top Cities In The Digital Age

Caroline Paunov, Dominique Guellec, Nevine El-Mallakh, Sandra Planes-Satorra and Lukas Nüs, OECD
This paper investigates how digital technologies have shaped the concentration of inventive activity in cities across 30 OECD countries. It finds that patenting is highly concentrated: from 2010 to 2014, 10% of cities accounted for 64% of patent applications to the European Patent Office, with the top five (Tokyo, Seoul, San Francisco, Higashiosaka and Paris) representing 21.8% of applications. The share of the top cities in total patenting increased modestly from 1995 to 2014. Digital technology patent applications are more concentrated in top cities than applications in other technology fields. In the United States, which has led digital technology deployment, the concentration of patent applications in top cities increased more than in Japan and Europe over the two decades. Econometric results confirm that digital technology relates positively to patenting activities in cities and that it benefits top cities, in particular, thereby strengthening the concentration of innovation in these cities.

Innovation Policy

International Intellectual Property after the New NAFTA

Jeremy de Beer , CIGI
This report examines changes to intellectual property resulting from the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). CUSMA includes most of the Trans-Pacific Partnership provisions that were suspended in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, except for a few pharmaceutical-related provisions amended after signing. The report notes that Canada will be required to make meaningful changes to domestic IP laws, including copyright term extension, criminal penalties for tampering with digital rights management information, restoration of patent terms to compensate for administrative and regulatory delays, broader and longer protection for undisclosed testing data and other data, new civil and criminal remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets, and additional powers for customs officials to seize and destroy IP-infringing goods.

The Missing Entrepreneurs 2019: Policies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship

The Missing Entrepreneurs 2019 is the fifth edition in a series of biennial reports that examine how public policies at national, regional and local levels can support job creation, economic growth and social inclusion by overcoming obstacles to business start-ups and self-employment by people from disadvantaged or under-represented groups in entrepreneurship. It shows that there is substantial potential to combat unemployment and increase labour market participation by facilitating business creation in populations such as women, youth, the unemployed, and immigrants. However, the specific problems they face need to be recognised and addressed with effective and efficient policy measures. The 2019 edition contains two thematic policy chapters on the potential of digital entrepreneurship for making entrepreneurship more inclusive and increasing the scale-up potential of start-ups by entrepreneurs from disadvantaged groups. These thematic chapters discuss current policy issues and present the range of policy actions currently used in EU and OECD countries. The chapters also offer policy advice to national, regional and local policy makers. Finally, the report contains country profiles that highlight recent trends in entrepreneurship by women, youth, seniors and immigrants, key policy issues and recent policy actions in each of the 28 EU Member States.

Statistics & Indicators

Measuring Tax Support For R&D

OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation
The recently released 2019 OECD R&D tax incentive country profiles provide the most up-to-date internationally comparable information – qualitative and quantitative – on the design and cost of R&D tax relief provisions used by countries to incentivize business R&D. Drawing on the latest indicators of government tax relief for R&D from the OECD R&D Tax Incentives database, published in December last year, they highlight recent and long-term trends in the role of R&D tax incentives in the innovation policy mix across OECD countries and partner economies.

8 Things To Know From The FY 2020 Budget

Jason Rittenberg, SSTI
This post summarizes the innovation policy-related spending commitments contained in the US FY 2020 budget. The bills include significant funding appropriations for innovation policy priorities, such as Regional Innovation Strategies, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and NSF.

Policy Digest

Genesis at Work: Evaluating the Effects of Manufacturing Extension on Business Success and Job Quality

Ranita Jain, Nichola Lowe, Greg Schrock & Maureen Conway, Aspen Institute
This report evaluates a novel variation on the programming offered by the US Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), public-private partnerships supported by the US Department of Commerce. In July 2014, with the support of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance (CWFA), the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) launched the Genesis initiative to improve both business success and job quality at small and medium-sized manufacturing firms in the Chicago region. IMEC works with manufacturers to implement “good jobs” strategies to improve workforce engagement, productivity, and stability, alongside process and product improvements. This approach is summarized as the ‘people-process-product’ approach.

The report provides insights and observations from a four-year evaluation of IMEC’s implementation of Genesis (April 2015-April 2019), conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) in collaboration with urban and regional planning professors Nichola Lowe at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Greg Schrock at Portland State University.

Key findings based on IMEC’s work with 22 manufacturers include:

  • 55% of all Genesis companies and 61% of the most actively participating companies reported increases in annual sales, compared to 37% of non-Genesis companies that IMEC worked with.
  • 71% of all Genesis companies and 79% of the most actively participating companies reported cost savings, compared to 47% of non-Genesis companies that IMEC worked with.
  • Average annual earnings for all workers employed by Genesis companies increased by 12% in real, inflation-adjusted terms from 2014 to 2017.
  • Average worker turnover rates among all Genesis companies declined from 5.5% in 2015 to 4.3% in 2017. Among the most actively participating companies, turnover declined even more — from 5.8% in 2015 to 3.3% in 2017.

Key considerations for other Manufacturing Extension Partnerships:

  • Leadership that embraces the vision and purpose of the Genesis approach
  • Starting small when launching a new strategic approach
  • MEP staff may need different skills to provide business consulting services beyond traditional lean manufacturing service offerings
  • Leveraging existing business consulting tools
  • Finding mutually beneficial ways to work with local workforce organizations

Key considerations for funders and policymakers:

  • Providing funding to support collaboration between organizations
  • Raising the visibility of IMEC and its success
  • Reviewing MEP performance metrics with the goal of encouraging adoption of holistic people-process-product approaches
  • Providing funding to support adoption of the Genesis approach by other MEPs
  • Supporting intermediaries to build capacity to provide business advising services in other sectors


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.

Policies, Processes and Practices for Performance of Innovation Ecosystems (P4IE)

Ottawa, Ontario, 12-13 May 2020
The Partnership For the Organization of Innovation and New Technologies is organizing the first ever ‘‘Policies, Processes and Practices for Performance of Innovation Ecosystems” (P4IE) international conference on 12-13 May 2020 in Ottawa. Organized around eight highly relevant tracks, the conference offers participants the opportunity to discuss the impact of various technologies, practices, processes and policies, on innovation ecosystems, and the best means by which to design collaborative environments. The goal of the conference is to explore ways to strengthen Canada’s innovation through innovation ecosystems.

Rethinking Clusters: Place-Based Initiatives for Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies – 3rd International Workshop on Cluster Research

Valencia, Spain, 14-15 May, 2020
The Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Valencia, in collaboration with the University of Padova and the University of Firenze, organize the 3rd International Workshop on Cluster Research. As in the past editions, the event aims to to bring together some of the world’s leading scholars working on clusters, networks, ecosystems, platforms and regions. The conference gathers scholars from economic geography, innovation studies, regional science, as well as those working on economics and management, sociology or network theory.

DRUID20 Silver Anniversary Conference
Copenhagen, Denmark, 15-17 June, 2020

DRUID celebrates 25 years as 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 the DRUID20 SILVER ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE, hosted by Copenhagen Business School. Presenting distinguished plenary speakers, a range of parallel paper sessions, and an attractive social program that celebrates DRUID’s 25 years, 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.

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