The IPL newsletter: Volume 20, Issue 416

News from the IPL


Interview performed by Travis Southin and Zissis Hadjis on November 25th.

Shiri M. Breznitz, Associate Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, is an economic geographer and specializes in innovation, technology commercialization, and regional economic development.

In a sentence or two, describe your area of research.
My main focus is economic development, specifically, the impact of innovation and the roles of universities on regional economic development.

Are there any updates from your work or current projects that you can share?
In 2017, I was part of the University of Toronto’s Alumni Impact Survey. I’ve also done a follow-up survey with the alumni, focusing more specifically on entrepreneurship and education. From that, there’s a large body of work looking at the impact of domestic and foreign education, employment, and specific entrepreneurship education in universities and other intermediaries on the propensity of our students to become entrepreneurs. We’re cutting this data into different levels, looking at gender, business experience, nationality, and other factors.

I also have a project, sponsored by the Social Science Research Council, looking at brain drain and brain gain in Canada. We are still at the early stages of this project.

What impact do you hope your research can have?
My work has always been connected to policy, both at the regional and national level. I believe it’s important to share our research and spark a dialogue. There are many things that universities can do to contribute to economic development, some of which we are doing but many people are unaware of.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing your area of research?
There’s a lot of interest right now in the role of universities, which is great because I feel I can implement a lot of my research. This interest is an opportunity to involve a lot of people in the discussion.

The challenge in this kind of research is always getting good data and information. I’m on a project right now looking at innovation ecosystems, and surveying firms has been difficult. I think it’s hard to balance the need for data with the busy schedules and limited time of these companies.

What do you think the innovation landscape will look like in 5 or 10 years?
I think that, at least here in Canada, the biggest discussion is the relationship between government, business, and higher education in innovation –  and what role each of them needs to play. In the future, how these different sectors supplement each other will be crucial to developing areas of knowledge where we currently don’t have any.

What was the best book (or article) you’ve read recently? Why?
I’d recommend “The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy & Society” by William Kerr, which is interesting because he talks about migration and knowledge. But, I also love mystery, so I’d suggest reading the new Louise Penny novel, “ A Better Man”.

What advice would you give a new graduate student studying innovation?
Innovation is an interdisciplinary topic, and it doesn’t really belong to any one department. If you define yourself as an innovation scholar, and you don’t have a home like the Munk School, it can be very hard to do your research and be accepted in your own department.

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

Towards an Integrated Place-based Innovation Policy

Elvira Uyarra, Reader, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester
April 16, 2020, 2:00-4:00pm
Room 108N, 1 Devonshire Place, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

What Next For UK Science and Innovation Policy?

Kieron Flanagan, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester
May 7, 2020, 2:00-4:00pm
Room 108N, 1 Devonshire Place, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Editor's Pick

Business Innovation and Growth Support, 2007 to 2017

Statistics Canada
This analysis by Statistics Canada examines the the distribution of federal innovation and growth support (BIGS) in 2017 by enterprise size and industry.  The data source links BIGS administrative data with the Linkable File Environment, which facilitates the creation of microdata datasets that pertain to Canadian enterprises. The majority of enterprises that received federal support for innovation and growth were small- and medium-sized enterprises, who received 54.2% of the total value of federal government support in 2017. In addition, small- and medium-sized enterprises accounted for 95.1% of the enterprises that received federal support for business innovation and growth in 2017. Large enterprises, with 500 employees or more, accounted for 4.9% of enterprises that received federal support. The average value of federal support per enterprise increased with the enterprise size. For example, the average value of support received by small enterprises was $51,702 in 2017. Medium-sized enterprises received on average $118,230 and large enterprises received $956,954.

Cities, Clusters & Regions

Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Global Talent Competitiveness Index
Which companies, countries or cities are best positioned to benefit from the AI revolution? The seventh edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index focuses on Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The report explores how AI is changing the nature of work and forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems. The top 5 cities are New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, and Boston. The highest ranking Canadian city is Toronto at 12th place. The report finds that the gap between top AI talent jurisdictions and the rest of the world is widening.

Common Knowledge: Citizen-led Data Governance for Better Cities

This report discusses the impact of the three-year DECODE project, which piloted commons-based tools for decentralised identity and trusted data sharing in Amsterdam and Barcelona. This report shares lessons learned from each pilot, outlines their impacts and implications, and provides an overview of how policymakers can continue to support the momentum built by the project in enabling common-based approaches to data governance in cities. Additionally, the authors make recommendations for governments at city, national and EU level towards the creation of data commons in urban contexts.

Innovation Policy

Workforce Skills and Talent for the Future Mobility Era: Realizing Needs and Filling Gaps

The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network
Smart vehicles and innovative mobility services are transforming the automotive and mobility industry. This AVIN special report examines the various workforce skill sets needed for the future automotive and mobility era. Various challenges leading to automotive and mobility talent gaps are analyzed with a view to exploring how companies, education and training providers, and governments can work collaboratively to fill these gaps. The report explores solutions and opportunities available to organizations interested in developing future mobility talent as well as strategies to build the prospective talent pipeline.

Statistics & Indicators

Spending on Research and Development, 2017 (final), 2018 (preliminary) and 2019 (intentions)

Statistics Canada
Canada’s gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD) reached $35.7 billion in 2017, up 2.0% from the previous year. The increase was mainly tied to a rise in R&D expenditures in the higher education sector, which advanced 3.8% to $14.3 billion. In terms of R&D intensity, the ratio of Canada’s R&D expenditures to gross domestic product fell from 1.73 in 2016 to 1.67 in 2017.  Overall, R&D expenditures are set to decline 2.7% in 2018 to $34.8 billion primarily because of a drop in R&D performance by the business enterprise sector and its corresponding funding. In contrast, the higher education sector is anticipated to increase expenditures to $14.5 billion in 2018.

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.

Business Innovation Statistics and Indicators

OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation
The recent release of the OECD indicators on business innovation provides the largest release yet of business innovation indicators for 39 OECD member countries and partner economies. The data is collected by national statistical offices under the guidelines of the OECD/Eurostat Oslo Manual. For the first time the data includes comparable results for the United States and other major economies. The update provides information on the extent to which firms have been implementing new or improved products and business processes, their degree of novelty and economic significance, the investment and collaboration activities incurred as part of these efforts, and the role of markets and dedicated government support in different countries.

Higher Ed R&D Performance by Metro and Field

Colin Edwards, SSTI
This post analyzes R&D expenditures at U.S. institutions of higher education at the metropolitan level in 2018. This analysis uses the NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on the research expenditures at individual institutions to determine how this funding is distributed among the various fields of study, with life sciences outpacing all other fields. HERD expenditures in the life sciences (primarily the biological, biomedical, and health sciences) accounted for the 57.8 percent ($45.8 billion) of all higher education R&D activity in the U.S. The top 5 metropolitan areas in total life sciences R&D expenditures during 2018 were New York ($3.4 billion), Houston ($2 billion), Los Angeles ($1.9 billion), San Francisco ($1.8 billion), and Durham-Chapel Hill ($1.8 billion).

Policy Digest

Innovating UK Innovation Policy: Making the Advanced Research Projects Agency Model Work Here and Now

This report argues that a funding body inspired by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the US could make a valuable contribution to bolstering innovation within the UK. The authors note the potential of taking a mission-led approach via an ARPA-like program to help re-balance innovation across the UK.

ARPA was set up by the US government in 1958 and was a product of the race between superpowers. It played an important role in many of the great innovations of the last 50 years, from the Internet and the graphical user interface to GPS and self-driving cars. It makes big bets on breakthrough technologies – high-risk, high-payoff opportunities.

However, the authors note that ARPA’s large budget and the specific circumstances of its formation necessitate a modified approach for the UK context. Specifically, the report advocates that a funding body inspired by ARPA should be set up in the UK to:

Take a mission-based approach: An ARPA-inspired entity would fill the gap in large scale, targeted investments left unaddressed by the existing ‘mission-oriented’ funding stream, Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which the authors argue is ‘arguably-spread too thinly over too many challenge areas.’ A mission-based approach to solving issues like achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 ‘would also help with a UK-ARPA’s political viability, demonstrating to the public that a large increase in R&D spending is being directed towards the solution of tangible problems and is conducive to the public good’.

Reach a wider pool of innovators than existing funding mechanisms: The authors assert that allocating funds via challenge prizes is preferable because it will incentivize multiple teams to compete to provide the most impactful solution. This contrasts with current Innovate UK programs, whose relatively large amounts of money allocated and the conditions attached to their allocation make it unsuited for smaller firms with very disruptive, high-risk ideas.

Help stimulate innovative economic activity outside of London and the South East: The authors assert that an ARPA-like program could bolster economic growth in targeted regions by using testbeds to foster the creation of clusters. Testbeds enable the scientific, business and regulatory viability of innovative new technologies and business by testing them in environments closely resembling those in which they will be deployed.


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.