The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 462

News from the IPL


Dan Breznitz awarded Balsillie Prize for Public Policy

IPL Co-director and University of Toronto University Professor Dan Breznitz has been awarded the Balsille Prize for Public Policy by the Writers’ Trust of Canada for his latest book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World, published by Oxford University Press.

David Wolfe nominated to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Council of Canadian Academies

IPL Co-director David Wolfe was recently nominated to serve on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Council of Canadian Academies. The role of the Scientific Advisory Committee is to advise the CCA’s Board on assessment topics, expert panel composition, and peer review.


The Politics of Decarbonization

This is a recording of a March 10 panel focused on the politics of decarbonization. The transition to a post-carbon energy and economic paradigm is a stated priority for all the signatories to the Paris Accord, including Canada. Success in achieving this objective will depend on a complex mix of policy experimentation and coalition building in support of that objective, cutting across virtually every sector of the economy. This panel will explore some of the dimensions of that process and the prospects for success in achieving that objective.

Moderator: David A. Wolfe, IPL Co-Director and Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga


  • Brendan Haley, Policy Research Director at Efficiency Canada, a research and advocacy organization based at Carleton University.
  • Sara Hastings-Simon, macro energy system researcher and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary
  • Nathan Lemphers, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo


The pandemic forced Canadian business out of a tech lethargy. What happens next?

Daniel Munro, Creig Lamb, IRPP Policy Options
This IRPP Policy Options article presents findings co-authored by IPL Fellow and Director Policy Projects Daniel Munro. The article asserts that Canadian businesses need a fundamental shift to adopt and invest in new technology more quickly and keep up with other countries. The findings draw from the author’s Shift Insights report titled ‘Canada’s Digital Imperative: Enabling Innovation and Growth Through Technology Adoption.’

The Role of Experimentation in Driving Transformational Innovation in Real Places

Alex Glennie, Dan Breznitz, Greeta Nathan, Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium
This panel featuring IPL Co-Director Dan Breznitz discussed the critical importance of creating transformative innovation strategies and policies that are evidence-driven, rooted in the capabilities and resources of communities, and that acknowledge and take advantage of where a country, region, or local area is situated along the entire process of innovation. Prevailing approaches to innovation policymaking have been heavily influenced by the Silicon Valley model of growth creation, which prioritizes technological innovation. Some cities or regions have benefited from this approach, but it is neither feasible or desirable in every context, and it is unlikely to lead to a step change in terms of directing innovation activities towards achieving transformative societal goals. A culture of exploration and experimentation is required, to develop and continually adapt innovation policies that are fit for purpose, and fit for context.

Rooted in place: Regional innovation, assets, and the politics of electric vehicle leadership in California, Norway, and Québec

Nathan Lemphers, Steven Bernstein, Matthew Hoffmann, & David A. Wolfe, Energy Research & Social Science
In the media, Norway, California, and Québec are widely acknowledged as innovative leaders in transportation electrification. Yet, what does leadership mean and how did these jurisdictions achieve it? We contend that leadership reflects both intentional forethought through early, experimental and innovative policy to promote electric vehicles and the on-the-ground successful outcomes of these policies. All three jurisdictions have embarked on different leadership paths. We argue that these differences are a function of how electromobility policy entrepreneurs engaged unique pre-existing local assets and activated similar political mechanisms of normalization, coalition building and capacity building. When policy actors harness mutually reinforcing political and industrial dynamics, electric vehicle policies can scale up. Eventually, these dynamics may lead to new industrial path development and the decarbonization of the transportation sector.

Into the Scale-up-verse: Exploring the landscape of Canada’s high-performing firms

Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship
Scale-ups, or high-growth firms, are responsible for the vast majority of productivity growth in Canada, making them an immensely powerful tool in the pursuit of Canada’s long-term economic stability and prosperity. However, only 1 in 100 young firms reach scale-up status within their first ten years. How can we harness, support, and amplify the power of scale-ups and their contributions to the Canadian economy?  A collaboration between the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, this new study, Into the Scale-up-verse, takes the first step toward better equipping policymakers to support the success of Canadian firms by unpacking the complexity and nuance in Canada’s diverse scale-up universe. The research was initiated and funded by Delvinia in partnership with Mitacs and the IPL, and conducted jointly with BII&E.  The report analyzes the most recent and detailed data set concerning Canadian business dynamics to provide a novel and comprehensive guide for those in a position—such as academic researchers, industry players, and government policymakers—to design supportive economic policy and facilitate productive conversations about Canada’s scale-ups.

Emerging Models of Networked Industrial Policy: Recent Trends in Automotive Policy in the US and Germany  

Elena Goracinova, Patrick Galvin, David A. Wolfe, Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
The adoption of the USMCA (the United States-Mexico-Canada) trade agreement and the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles has created uncertainty for automotive companies. In response, the need for government efforts to position traditional automotive regions as a source of high-quality, green vehicles is pressing. The policy mix is changing rapidly as the public sector and firms cope with the challenges associated with new trade confrontations and disruptive technologies. The article captures this evolving policy landscape through a comparative analysis of automotive policy with respect to BEVs in the US and Germany. It examines how innovation policies help the sector navigate the current technological transition. We find that theories grounded in traditional comparative political science do not provide an adequate framework to explain the observed similarities and differences in policy trajectories in the two countries. The article adopts insights from the networked industrial policy perspective to better understand the repertoire of policy instruments adopted to manage the changing impact of alternative energy technologies in the automotive industry.
Keywords: automotive; electrification; US; Germany; comparative politics; technological transformation.

Editor's Pick

Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable

Government of Canada
Budget 2022 announces the government’s intention to create an operationally independent federal innovation and investment agency, and proposes $1 billion over five years, starting in 2022-23, to support its initial operations. Budget 2022 also proposes to establish the Canada Growth Fund to attract substantial private sector investment to help meet important national economic policy goals. The fund will be initially capitalized at $15 billion over the next five years, and will target three dollars of private capital for every one dollar that it invests. The fund will operate at arms-length from the federal government, deploying debt, equity, guarantees, and specialized contracts. The fund will reduce emissions and contribute to achieving Canada’s climate goals, diversify Canada’s economy and bolster exports by investing in the growth of low-carbon industries and new technologies across new and traditional sectors of Canada’s industrial base, and support the restructuring of critical supply chains in areas important to Canada’s future prosperity—including the natural resources sector. Budget 2022 notes that more details for both of these initiatives will be announced in the 2022 fall economic and fiscal update after consultation with Canadian and global experts.

Cities & Regions

Do EU regions benefit from Smart Specialisation principles?

David L. Rigby, Christoph Roesler, Dieter Kogler, Ron Boschma & Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Regional Studies

Smart Specialisation was conceived as a ‘bottom-up’ framework to identify new growth paths connected to knowledge cores within regions. Although operationalization of Smart Specialisation has proven difficult, recent mappings of technologies in terms of technological relatedness and complexity suggest a useful cost–benefit framework. We extend these ideas, locating European Union cities in a Smart Specialisation space and tracking their development of technology since 1980. Results indicate that European Union cities with the largest gains in complex and related technologies enjoy an economic performance premium over cities with smaller gains in the complexity and relatedness of their knowledge bases.

Institutionalizing inclusive growth: Rewiring systems to rebuild local economies

Joseph Parilla, Ryan Donahue, and Sarena Martinez, Brookings
Drawing inspiration from case studies profiling efforts to “rewire systems” in five older industrial cities (Akron, Ohio; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Paul, Minn., and Syracuse, N.Y.), this report provides a framework and practical examples that can guide local action and state, federal, corporate, and philanthropic investment in cities across the nation.


OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators Highlights – March 2022

This report summarizes the latest data published in the OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators(MSTI) database. R&D expenditure in the OECD area grew by 1.8% in real terms in 2020. While this represents a sharp slowdown compared to previous years when R&D was growing at about 5% annually, it marks the first time on record in which a global recession did not translate into a drop in R&D expenditures. This reflects how investments in R&D have been an integral part of the response to the crisis. R&D in the Higher Education sector rose by 2.4%, while R&D expenditures in the Government sector increased by 2.7%. R&D in the business enterprise sector still managed to grow by 1.5% despite the pro-cyclical nature of R&D and adverse economic conditions.

Innovation Policy

Dynamic capabilities of the public sector: Towards a new synthesis. 

Rainer Kattel, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important public sector capacities and capabilities are in terms of reacting to crises, and re-configuring existing policies and implementation practices. Prior to the pandemic, policy makers were increasingly turning their attention to challenge-driven innovation policies in order to tackle climate emergencies and other ‘wicked’ societal challenges. Such a ‘normative turn’ also assumes the existence of what can be called dynamic capabilities in the public sector. This paper offers a new synthesis of how to conceptualize dynamic capabilities in the public sector. The paper synthesizes existing state capacity, public sector innovation capacity and dynamic capabilities literature. Using three brief case studies (the UK’s Government Digital Service, the city of Barcelona and Sweden’s Vinnova), the paper discusses the origins and constitutive elements (sense-making, connecting, shaping) of dynamic capabilities. The paper also discusses how dynamic capabilities could be assessed.

Lost in translation: challenges in creating new transformative innovation policy practices

Johanna Ulmanen, Anna Bergek & Hans Hellsmark, Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, Innovation and transitions studies working paper
The purpose of this paper is to identify key challenges that national policymakers face in trying to translate transformative innovation policy (TIP) theory into policy practice. It focuses on the case of the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova’s attempt to translate its TIP-related innovation perspective into the policy practice of the Swedish Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP). By means of a discourse perspective, it identifies two key discourses and one institution influencing Vinnova’s translation process. In addition, it describes four key challenges that Vinnova faces in this translation process relating to (i) the involvement of relevant stakeholders, (ii) overcoming a dominant discourse, (iii) time constraints of an institutionalized parliamentary system, and (iv) realizing policy coordination ambitions. This study adds to previous literature in identifying dominant discourses or institutional structures as a key barrier for change. Its contribution is to show how transformative translation challenges are played out in a national-level context.

Closing the Italian digital gap: The role of skills, intangibles and policies

The study identifies the main factors that affect the diffusion of digital technologies and their returns among Italian firms, highlighting the crucial role of public policies. It uses a unique data infrastructure that integrates information on digital technology adoption, firm performance, and workers’ and managers’ skills. The analysis shows that the low digitization of Italian firms, especially of SMEs, can be traced back to the low levels of three factors: i) workers’ skills, ii) management capabilities, and iii) accumulation of intangible assets. These factors are also crucial to maximize the effectiveness of public policies supporting firm digitization, such as the deployment of broadband infrastructure and fiscal incentives to investments in digital technologies. Finally, the analysis shows that the COVID-19 crisis contributed to further widening the digital gap between Italian firms, favouring ex-ante more digitized companies, suggesting that public policies play a crucial role for the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Policy Digest

Canada’s Future in a Net-Zero World: Identifying strategic opportunities for Canada’s transition to net-zero

Pacific Institute for Climate SolutionsSmart Prosperity Institute, and the Transition Accelerator

This report analyzes Canada’s prospects in a net-zero world by developing a strategic lens that positions Canada in the 2050 energy system. The authors assert that Canada must focus industrial strategy and roadmap efforts on its top economic opportunities in the global net zero transition. This blog post from the Transition Accelerator contains a commentary and summary written by some of the report’s authors Bentley AllanDerek Eaton and Anik Islam. 

Priority Opportunity Areas

In Canada’s Future in a Net-Zero World, seven priority opportunity areas are identified and outlined which can be transformed from current emissions profiles to green industry while building Canada’s economy:

  • Medium and heavy-duty vehicles
  • Alternative proteins
  • Green aluminum
  • Mass timber
  • Green chemistry
  • Hydrogen
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage

Strategic Framework

This report lays out a four-part framework for a strategic approach, founded on a deliberate move from a risk averse approach to one that is experimental and strategic:

  1. Establish a vision of Canada’s place in a net-zero world.
  2. Identify priority opportunities and build a focused portfolio of investments across sectors.
  3. Develop sectoral strategies or roadmaps that show the sequences and policies that are needed to drive industrial development and transition.
  4. Collaborate across public-private and federal-provincial lines to advance the roadmaps – evaluating, realigning, and adjusting as we go. 

Principles for public-private collaborations

Canada’s Future in a Net-Zero World concludes by outlining principles for how Canada might forge ambitious public-private collaborations to build an industrial strategy.

  1. There is an important role for the government, which must articulate public purpose, set targets, leverage finance, and coordinate a whole supply-chain approach.
  2. Governments must work with intermediary organizations that can facilitate good information flows between governments and businesses, provide independent expertise, and serve as sites of learning and experimentation.

Links to recent IPL webinars

National Governments & Innovation Policy: Where – and What – Is Utopia?

This is a recording of a January 10 panel focused on national governments and Innovation policy. Canada, the Nordics, Taiwan? In this webinar, panelists examined the diverse roles played by national governments in setting the stage for innovation, as well as the key elements that ought to be considered in formulation of innovation policy in Canada and elsewhere.


  • Susana Borras, Professor, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen Denmark
  • Dan Breznitz, University Professor and Munk Chair of Innovation Studies; Co-Director, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School; Clifford Clark Visiting Economist, Department of Finance, Government of Canada
  • Darius Ornston, Associate Professor, Munk School
  • Joseph Wong, Vice-President, International, University of Toronto; Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School; Professor, Department of Political Science


  • Rana Foroohar, Global Business Columnist and Associate Editor, Financial Times, and Global Economic Analyst, CNN

From Science to Entrepreneurship

This is a recording of the Nov. 15th, 2021 webinar. There is a plethora of research on university commercialization and technology transfer. However, there is less of a discussion on the skillset and technical capabilities that allow a scientist to become an entrepreneur. In this webinar we will focus on these skills and programs that induce entrepreneurship. Moving from the scientist’s lab, to entrepreneurship courses, to forming a startup, to growing the firm within an incubator or accelerator.


  • Fabiano Armellini, Associate Professor Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal
  • Shiri M. Breznitz, Director, Master of Global Affairs Program; Associate Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto
  • Elicia Maine, W.J. VanDusen Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Academic Director, Invention to Innovation (i2I); Special Advisor on Innovation to the VPRI, Simon Fraser University
  • Sophie Veilleux, Professor, Department of Management of the Faculty of Business Administration at Université Laval
  • Sarah Lubik (moderator), Director of Entrepreneurship; Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU Lecturer, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University

Canada’s Quantum Internet: Prospects and Perils

This is a recording of the April 20, 2021 webinar that together experts to discuss the political, economic, and scientific implications of quantum communications, for Canada and the world .Speakers: Francesco Bova, Associate Professor, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto; Anne Broadbent, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa; Jon Lindsay, Assistant Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Toronto; Christoph Simon, Professor and Associate Head, Research, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary; & Dan Patterson (moderator), Technology Reporter, CBS News

Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship in Canada

This is a recording of the March 23rd 2021 webinar focused on the importance of IP protection for entrepreneurship, the intellectual property environment in Canada, and existing support for firms. Panelists discussed issues relating to their firm’s ability to secure IP especially as it relates to IP education and the role of government in supporting IP protection. Speakers: Seray Çiçek,  Ryan Hubbard, Graeme Moffat, Moderator: Shiri Breznitz


21st annual Research Money conference – Canada’s Prosperity Conundrum

May 3-5 2022, Virtual

Post-pandemic recovery is top of mind among leaders and citizens across the globe. Embedded in the discourse of policymakers, business leaders, academic thought leaders, researchers, and civil society is the promise of overcoming a persistent challenge: Canada’s subpar productivity and competitiveness in today’s global knowledge economy. For decades Canadians have been wrestling with an uncomfortable question. Can we maintain the same level of prosperity that grew out of our natural resource endowments in today’s highly competitive, global economy in which knowledge drives wealth creation and improved quality of life? Join us and other prominent leaders as we discuss this and other important questions facing Canada today.

P4IE 2022 International Conference Measuring Metrics that Matter

May 9-11 2022, Ottawa and Online
How to best design innovation indicators for the future? You are invited to contribute to this challenging question during our second international conference on “Policies, Processes and Practices for Performance of Innovation Ecosystems” (P4IE). The hybrid conference will be held online and in-person at Ottawa. You can actively participate by submitting an academic, industry or public policy paper. Topics includes, but are not limited to: New/Real-time innovation indicators; Sustainable, Inclusive, Responsible (SIR) innovation indicators; Measuring the performance of innovation ecosystems; and Science-to-innovation SIR innovation indicators. Submissions of academic extended abstracts due by December 13, 2021 (acceptance notification by February 15). Submissions of policy papers due by January 14, 2022 (acceptance notification by February 14). Submissions of industrial papers due by February 14, 2022 (acceptance notification by March 14).

Global Conference on Economic Geography 2022

June 7-10, Dublin, Ireland
Under the umbrella topic “Territorial Development”, Trinity College Dublin & University College Dublin invites you to participate in the sixth Global Conference on Economic Geography 2022 to be held in Dublin, Ireland. The conference is organized into 13 session themes – see list below which also provides a link to the detailed theme description. All session theme leaders welcome submissions to their respective themes via the submission portal. In addition, there is also a long list of Special Sessions that are associated with these themes – see list further below which again provides a link for a detailed description for each of these. All Special Session organizers welcome submissions again via the submission portal.

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