The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 464

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 contribution of students to regional economies: reframing the regional innovation systems approach

Shiri M. Breznitz, Helen Lawton Smith, & Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Regional Studies
This intro to a recent Regional Studies special issue is co-authored by IPL affiliated faculty member Shiri M. Breznitz. The role of universities in regional development has grown significantly over the past two decades. One strand of analysis has been that of the university in regional innovation systems (RIS). However, the contribution of university students has largely been neglected. This special issue contributes to the RIS literature by unpacking the RIS concept through exploring this specific aspect of university engagement in regional economies. The nine papers collectively offer an understanding of the effects of student activity upon the knowledge, skill and entrepreneurial bases of regions. The papers provide evidence and analysis from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

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 Platform Economy and Competition Policy: Options for Canada

David A. Wolfe and Mdu Mhlanga, IPL Working Paper 2022-2
The report examines some of the new policy perspectives that have emerged from the academic and policy-oriented literature to deal with the challenge posed by the dominance of platform firms, with a particular focus on the limitations of existing competition policy authorities to deal with the full dimensions of the current challenge. It considers a set of alternative recommendations currently being advanced and the need for a ‘whole of government’ approach to deal with the issue. Policy approaches recently adopted or currently under consideration in other jurisdictions, especially the EU, UK and US are examined, and the implications of this trend for policy development in Canada are considered. The report concludes with a preliminary set of recommendations for the most effective policy approach for Canada, considering its position as a small, open trading country in the global economy and its traditional role as a technology taker, not technology setter.

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

Nathan LemphersSteven 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

NSF launches Regional Innovation Engines program developed to stimulate regional economic growth and innovation

Emily Chesser, STTI
This post summarizes the recent announcement of the NSF Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines program. This program encourages the creation of regional coalitions of industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society, and communities of practice to form partnerships that boost scientific and technological innovation and benefit the economy in a geographic region. Specifically, the NSF Engines program targets geographic areas in the U.S. that lack well-established innovation ecosystems. Awards of up to $160 million for up to 10 years ultimately will be provided.

Cities & Regions

Levelling up: the opportunities for research and innovation

David Sweeney, UKRI
This recent post by David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England summarizes how UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will use research and innovation to catalyse levelling up for the benefit of the whole UK.

Agency and economic change in regions: identifying routes to new path development using qualitative comparative analysis

Markus Grillitsch et al., Regional Studies
This paper investigates the role of human agency in 40 phases of regional economic development in 12 Nordic regions over 30 years. It contributes with a theoretical framework to study agency over time and a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis based on a unique dataset combining over 200 interviews, with printed and online sources, and quantitative data. The paper identifies which combinations of agency types and context conditions make industrial upgrading or diversification possible, and investigates how such combinations come into being. The causal claims from this analysis are illustrated with empirical examples and discussed in relation to previous literature.


UK innovation survey 2021: report

UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

This report presents the detailed findings of the 2021 UK innovation survey (UKIS 2021) covering the period 2018 to 2020. The UKIS is the main data source for business innovation in the UK. The survey is conducted every two years. UKIS 2021 is the UK’s twelfth survey of this type. It is used widely across government to help improve policy and by the research community for understanding the innovation landscape.


Innovation Policy

Are industrial policy instruments effective? A review of the evidence in OECD countries

Chiara Criscuolo, Nicolas Gonne, Kohei Kitazawa and Guy Lalanne, OECD
While the case for industrial policy is gaining traction across OECD countries, little consensus exists on the effectiveness of such interventions. Building on a new analytical framework for industrial policy developed in a companion paper, this paper reviews the empirical literature on the effectiveness of industrial policy instruments, laying out the knowns and unknowns. Overall, it strongly supports the premise that well-designed economic incentives for firms and good framework conditions shaping the business environment are effective. At the same time, it emphasizes the limited and inconclusive nature of the evidence regarding the increasingly frequent targeted and demand-side instruments. Finally, it underlines the complementarities between economic incentives and other interventions such as skill policies or framework conditions, notably competition and trade policies. Framework conditions are indeed key in enabling the most productive firms to grow and an important channel for structural change.

Green jobs delivery steps up a gear

UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth
This press release details the first meeting of the Green Jobs Delivery Group, which is UK’s first ever dedicated group for creating UK green job opportunities. The Group will be made up of over 20 representatives from business, chaired by Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, and include participation from various other ministers.  The Group’s work will support the delivery of up to 480,000 skilled green jobs by 2030 that will be created and supported thanks to government policies set out in the Prime Minister’s Energy Security Strategy and Net Zero Strategy.

European Health Union: A European Health Data Space for people and science

The European Commission
This post announces the launch of the European Health Data Space (EHDS). The EHDS will empower people to control and utilise their health data in their home country or in other Member States. It fosters a genuine single market for digital health services and products. And it offers a consistent, trustworthy and efficient framework to use health data for research, innovation, policy-making and regulatory activities, while ensuring full compliance with the EU’s high data protection standards.

Policy Digest

An industrial policy framework for OECD countries: Old debates, new perspectives

Chiara Criscuolo, Nicolas Gonne, Kohei Kitazawa and Guy Lalanne, OECD

The debate on industrial policy has made a comeback in both academic and policy circles. Yet, no consensus exists on an industrial policy paradigm and the absence of a common reference framework unduly obfuscates the debate – even which interventions are to be considered “industrial policy” is not clear-cut. Against this background, this paper proposes a coherent framework for analyzing the formulation of industrial policy, relying on a purposefully broad definition of the latter. Leveraging the proposed framework and a companion paper which synthesizes the available empirical evidence, this paper stresses the complementarities between policy instruments, thereby justifying the use of industrial strategies, acknowledges the role of targeted industrial strategies, which can direct technological change and growth, and of demand side instruments, which can contribute to transformative industrial change, but calls for a stronger emphasis on evaluation and the regular re-assessment of targeted industrial strategies.

The authors summarize their four policy messages as follows:

  • Complementarities between policy instruments justify the use of industrial strategies. The available evidence supports the effectiveness of several categories of policy instruments such as firm level investment incentives, instruments favouring the access to inputs (e.g. skills, knowledg, infrastructure) and appropriate framework conditions (e.g. sound competition, well-functioning capital markets). For the instruments to be effective and to maximize their effectiveness, however, good policy design is crucial. In addition, the framework developed in this paper sheds light on the complementarity between investment incentives, instruments supporting access to inputs and framework conditions, thereby rationalising the use of policy packages, or strategies, to reach industrial policy objectives.
  • Targeted industrial strategies can direct technological change and growth. Governments having a strong role to play in tackling societal challenges, in particular climate change, this may explain and justify the renewal of targeted industrial strategies, such as mission-oriented and technology–focused strategies. Targeted instruments can usefully complement horizontal policies within a strategy to achieve a given objective. However, it is important to be aware of well–identified pitfalls of targeted interventions, whose governance model should be built so that young competitors are not excluded, specifying objectives rather than means, scheduling assessments and evaluations and building in exit options.
  • Demand side instruments can contribute to transformative industrial change. These instruments, which affect the demand for products through either their price, availability or public demand, have become more and more common, in particular in transformative mission–oriented strategies. The underlying rationale is the creation of demand in order to support scaling–up and improving efficiency through, e.g., learning by doing. In the context of targeted industrial strategies, demand side policies are particularly interesting as they may be less distortive than targeted supply–side policies. For instance, they are more likely to affect indirectly all the relevant firms, irrespective of their size, age or connections with the administration. The evidence supports the effectiveness of these instruments, although the optimal policy mix between demand and supply side instruments remains an open question.
  • Governments need to put a strong emphasis on evaluation and the regular reassessment of targeted policies. While the evidence on the effectiveness of targeted interventions is limited and mixed so far, digital technologies have the potential to improve the effectiveness of these interventions, in particular by making evaluation cheaper and more timely.

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


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