The IPL newsletter: Volume 20, Issue 418

News from the IPL


Anita M. McGahan is University Professor and George E. Connell Chair in Organizations and Society at the University of Toronto. Her primary appointments are at the Rotman School of Management and the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Interview performed by Zissis Hadjis on December 9th, 2019.

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?
My research is on entrepreneurship in the public interest. I’m interested in how organizations, especially those in the private sector, can actually be engaged in delivering public goods such as healthcare, military security, policing, etc.  The reason is that the most significant opportunities for value creation for all organizations – companies, governments, and others – is in addressing these problems.

Are there any updates from your work or current projects that you can share?
I’m increasingly interested in working on this question of what the public good really is, and how we identify it, how it develops, and where it comes from. For example, look at a major public concern such as climate change. How do we break this problem down into actionable pieces? How do we come to an agreement on what’s occurring? I’m very interested in these processes, but also trying to assure that they have some coherence and don’t exclude stakeholders who might otherwise be exploited.

What impact do you hope your research can have?
I’m fine with any impact. I would like to contribute to both theory and/or practice, but mostly I’d like to contribute knowledge to the next generation so they can understand the mistakes my generation made, and hopefully not make the same ones. I believe most of the impact professors have is a diffused path of impact to theory and practice through driving conversations in the public domain. They can also have a less diffuse impact by training students, which is why I’m extremely honoured to be a teacher and take it as my main legacy, too.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing your area of research?
In terms of challenges, the scale of the problem is so great. Intellectually, it’s incredibly difficult to figure out how to make progress responsibly and sustainably. A big opportunity I have is being involved with the REACH program here at the University of Toronto. We try to get to the heart of the limitations of our systems, whether for financial services, healthcare, or other, and deliver services to the people in our society who are the hardest to reach.

What do you think the innovation landscape will look like in 5 or 10 years?
My sense is that effective governance over new technologies, such as AI, is going to be central to unleashing their power for actually solving some of the world’s most pressing problems right now.

What was the best book (or article) you’ve read recently? Why?
One of the best articles I’ve read recently is “Epidemic of fear: How the trouble-ridden debut of a breakthrough vaccine sparked a panic”, written by Erika Fry. Additionally, my colleague Sarah Kaplan wrote a fantastic book called the “The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation”.

What advice would you give a new graduate student studying innovation?
The university system was not designed to take up some of the most promising solutions to the biggest problems that we have in the world. Therefore, you’ve got to be resilient, persistent, trust your intuition, and make the degree that you’re pursuing align with your goals, instead of pegging yourself into a system that isn’t necessarily designed to support you in doing what you’re most interested in.

2019-2020 IPL Speaker Series

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

Building up to Transformation: Digital Maturity of Canada’s Industrial Sectors

This report analyzes adoption of digital technologies in Canada’s industrials sectors—manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, power utilities, construction, transportation, infrastructure and others. The authors surveyed 165 companies from across Canada’s industrials sectors to “gauge their digital maturity and find out where companies are investing today as well as the opportunities they see for tomorrow.” With the vast majority of respondents (76%) expecting to invest less than five percent of revenue in technology and digital transformation, the authors note that “companies in these industries may not be investing at the level needed to achieve their investment goals.”

Cities, Clusters & Regions

The Spatial Dimension of Productivity: Connecting the Dots Across Industries, Firms and Places

OECD Regional Development Working Papers
This working paper offers a synthesis of the current knowledge on the determinants of productivity. It carefully reviews both “spatial” (e.g. agglomerations, infrastructure, geography) and “aspatial” (e.g. human capital, labour regulations, industry-level innovation and dynamism) productivity drivers and demonstrates how the underlying spatial dynamics behind the latter group makes all productivity determinants “spatial” in nature. The paper demonstrates that productivity is inherently a spatial phenomenon and its understanding without a local/regional dimension is incomplete.

A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs: Background on Data and Methodology

Marcela Escobari and Ian Seyal, Brookings Institute
This report outlines the methods and analysis behind the data visualization tool A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs, which provides tailored data to “help cities drive dynamic growth that also creates opportunity for the local workforce.” The visualization displays research by the Brookings Workforce of the Future Initiative, which applies and adapts the methods of Economic Complexity—pioneered by the Growth Lab at Harvard’s Center for International Development and utilized in an international context—to the subnational context to inform actionable policy insights at the metropolitan level within the United States.

Innovation Policy

On Artificial Intelligence – A European Approach to Excellence and Trust

European Commission
This white paper from the European Commission builds upon President Ursula von der Leyen’s commitment to introducing AI legislation in her first 100 days. The white paper “supports a regulatory and investment oriented approach with the twin objective of promoting the uptake of AI and of addressing the risks associated with certain uses of this new technology.” The purpose of this White Paper is to set out policy options on how to achieve these objectives. With this white paper, the Commission “launches a broad consultation of Member States civil society, industry and academics, of concrete proposals for a European approach to AI…” that includes “both policy means to boost investments in research and innovation, enhance the development of skills and support the uptake of AI by SMEs, and proposals for key elements of a future regulatory framework.”

Statistics & Indicators

Measuring Employment in Global Value Chains

Peter Horvát, Colin Webb and Norihiko Yamano, OECD
Growing economic integration worldwide and the spread of global value chains (GVCs) increases the sensitivity of employment in one country or region to changes in demand in other countries or regions. However, traditional statistics do not reveal the full nature of global interdependencies – notably how consumption in one country may drive production and therefore, sustain employment in other economies or, how employment in an upstream domestic industry may be affected by exporting activities of other domestic industries. This document describes the sources and methods used to produce the indicators in the Trade in employment (TiM) database. These indicators were developed, as a complement to Trade in Value Added (TiVA) indicators, to provide broad insights into the impact of GVCs on labour markets. The indicators are derived by combining the latest set of OECD Inter-Country Input-Output (ICIO) tables, covering the years 2005 to 2015, with appropriate employment by industry statistics.

SME Profile: Clean Technology in Canada

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
This report presents findings from the 2017 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises to offer the first-ever snapshot of the financing and growth activities of clean technology (clean tech) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada. Results reveal an interesting profile of SMEs operating in the clean tech sector. In 2017, clean tech SMEs were larger and older than all SMEs, were more likely to seek financing and their financing requests were generally approved. Clean tech SMEs were high-performing firms, and grew, exported and innovated more often than all SMEs. They also exhibited high potential, tending to report both expansion intentions and growth expectations. Finally, ownership of clean tech SMEs tended to be less diverse than that of all SMEs, while the primary decision makers of clean tech SMEs were better educated and had more experience than the primary decision makers of all SMEs.

Canadian Defence, Aerospace, Marine and Cybersecurity Industries Survey, 2018

Statistics Canada
Selected data tables from the 2018 Canadian Defence, Aerospace, Marine and Cybersecurity Industries Survey are now available upon request. The tables provide data at the national level on goods and services, sales, exports and innovation among firms engaged in the manufacture of products and delivery of services related to Canada’s defence, aerospace, marine and cybersecurity industries.

Policy Digest

Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework

OECD Digital Economy Papers
This report outlines the Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework, which “helps governments and stakeholders to develop an integrated approach to policy making in the digital age and to shape policies for an inclusive digital future.” In particular, it suggests the following key steps for developing a digital transformation strategy that reflects a whole-of-government approach to policy making in the digital age:

1) Access to communications infrastructures, services and data
 –  Build broadband networks, by encouraging the deployment of more fibre into networks to drive a substantial increase in speeds across technologies
Communications infrastructures and services – Ensure efficient allocation of spectrum and spur investment via simplifying license requirements, removing regulatory uncertainty and facilitating efficient access to rights of way
Competition – Exercise caution with potential mergers that would reduce the number of mobile network operators
Regional development -Encourage private investment through a variety of incentives that reduce the cost of investment and network deployment in rural areas

2) Effective use of digital technologies and data
Digital government –
 Leverage digital technologies more fully for a user-driven approach, i.e. to design, develop, deliver and monitor public policies and services centred around people and user needs
Investment –  Promote ICT investment through monetary support or incentives for the purchase of ICT equipment or for ICT development, as well as non-financial support via targeted training, mostly focused on the digitalisation of business services, e-commerce, or the effective use of digital media
Business dynamism – Encourage business dynamism via labour market regulations, employment protection legislation, and the design of insolvency regimes, e.g. less penalising sanctions for bankruptcy and lower barriers to corporate restructuring of insolvent firms
Small and medium enterprises – Support the adoption of tools that are particularly beneficial to SMEs (e.g. cloud computing), measures to help SMEs exploit intellectual property (IP), regulatory exemptions for SMEs, and programs that facilitate linkages and partnerships between SMEs and larger firms
Skills – Co-ordinate training with industry and social partners to better design and target training
Digital security and privacy – Build capacities to assess digital risk and reduce it to an acceptable level, including through risk mitigation and/or transfer

3) Digital and data-driven innovation
 – Encourage the emergence and growth of new and young firms by increasing the range of financing options, reducing the debt bias of corporate tax systems, and facilitating crowdfunding
Small and medium enterprises –
Competition – Update regulatory frameworks that can constrain the entry of new players
Science and technology – Strengthen investment in university research, as well as firm-level incentives to support R&D and innovation, such as the protection of intellectual property regimes (IPRs) and tax credits
Digital government – Harness open government data to drive innovation
Sectoral policies and regulations – Account for varied levels of adoption across sectors, using data on a range of technological, investment and human-capital related indicators

4) Good jobs for all
Labour markets
 – Ensure the flexibility and the mobility of workers via regulations and labour laws
Skills – Encourage holistic approaches to skills development via early childhood education, life-long learning, and encouraging private sector investment in training
Social protection – Enable successful and fair transitions for all, including displaced workers via active and passive labour market programs
Tax and benefits – Ensure wider coverage via non-contributory schemes and portable entitlements
Regional development – Emphasize regional development policies as foster labour mobility via relocation subsidies and housing policies

5) Social prosperity and inclusion
Social policies –
 Reduce digital divides among age, regions, gender and socio-economic status
Skills – Support lifelong acquisition of hard and soft skills through education and training policies
Tax and benefits – Adapt income redistribution and in-kind benefits to the changing nature of work
Environment – Decrease the environmental footprint of the ICT sector and enable efficiencies and monitoring in “smart” infrastructures and cities
Health care – Encourage data-driven healthcare
Digital government – Empower users to access digital public services across tiers of government

6) Trust in the digital age
Digital risk management –
 Foster trust via digital risk management policies that determine the acceptable level of risk, assess risk factors, treat/share risk, and establish ongoing monitoring
Small and medium enterprises – Help SMEs manage digital risk via awareness, resources or expertise
Privacy – Create a national data strategy which incorporates a whole-of-society perspective and strikes a balance between individual and collective interests
Digital security – Address the growing digital security skills shortage
Consumer protection – Protect consumers via information disclosure, misleading commercial practices, confirmation and payment, fraud and identity theft, product safety, and dispute resolution and redress.

7) Market openness in digital business environment
Trade – Better understand the nature and composition of heterogeneous data flows and clarify the scope of the public policy objectives being pursued
Investment – Mobilise private investment in communications infrastructures and technologies, maintain open financial markets, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI)
Financial markets –
Competition – Create common standards to address anti competitive digital outcomes, such as the use of algorithms to collude
Taxation – Create common taxation regimes to address highly digitalised business models through forums such as the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project


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.