The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 466

News from the IPL


Dan Breznitz awarded Donner Prize

IPL Co-director and University of Toronto University Professor Dan Breznitz has been awarded the Donner Prize for the best public policy book by a Canadian for his latest book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World, published by Oxford University Press.

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.


Potential and Pitfalls of Smart Mobility

David A. Wolfe
In this video, IPL Co-director David Wolfe discusses the benefits and risks of smart mobility. This presentation draws in part from his research experience on the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Shared Mobility. This lecture was broadcast on Saturday, May 28, 2022 as part of the Stress-Free Degree series at the University of Toronto’s Alumni Reunion.

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.

Breaking Canada’s Innovation Inertia

Dan Munro, Darius Ornston, David A. Wolfe, IRPP Policy Options
Discussions about Canada’s innovation performance have followed a familiar narrative for decades. We are among the world’s leading countries for educational attainment and we produce science and ideas on pace with advanced economic peers. But our productivity and economic growth have stalled due to weak innovation among Canadian firms. Business investment in research and development. In this article, IPL researchers Dan Munro, Darius Ornston, and David Wolfe argue that if the measures in the 2022 federal budget create a firmer and more consistent foundation for experimentation, it represents a valuable step in the right direction.

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.

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.

Editor's Pick

FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Bold Executive Action to Spur Domestic Clean Energy Manufacturing

The White House
This post summarizes recently announced White House initiatives to support clean energy. Specifically, The White House authorized use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts; put the full power of federal procurement to work spurring additional domestic solar manufacturing capacity by directing the development of master supply agreements, including “super preference” status; and created a 24-month bridge as domestic manufacturing rapidly scales up to ensure the reliable supply of components that U.S. solar deployers need to construct clean energy projects and an electric grid for the 21st century, while reinforcing the integrity of our trade laws and processes. The post also notes that since President Biden took office, the private sector has committed over $100 billion in new private capital to make electric vehicles and batteries in the United States.

Cities & Regions

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022

Startup Genome
The same five ecosystems remain at the top of the ranking as in 2020 and 2021, but Beijing has dropped one place, with Boston taking its former place at #4. Silicon Valley is #1, followed by New York City and London tied at #2, Boston at #4, and Beijing at #5. Canada’s highest ranking ecosystem – Toronto-Waterloo- fell from 14th to 17th place.

Shocks, resilience and regional industry policy: Brexit and the automotive sector in two Midlands regions

David Bailey, Alex de Ruyter, David Hearne, & Raquel Ortega-Argilésa, Regional Studies
This article draws upon novel survey evidence to examine the possible regional impacts of Brexit as a ‘disruptive process’ to manufacturing operations and logistics in the automotive industry, in the context of the regional resilience literature. The current Brexit (and Covid-19) context, along with the sector’s need to re-orientate towards electrification, provides renewed urgency to reconsider industrial policy in spatial terms. The findings have salience not only in the context of anticipating and reacting to Brexit-induced economic shocks at a regional level, but also over the role of decentralized regional bodies. In this regard, the UK government’s agenda of ‘levelling up’ will be challenging, especially in the context of the place-based shocks likely to arise from Brexit as well as the impact of Covid-19. The article concludes that a more place-based regional industrial policy is required both to anticipate and to respond to shocks and also to reposition the sector in the region going forward.


Federal government spending on science and technology, 2020/2021 (actual), 2021/2022 (preliminary), and 2022/2023 (intentions)

Statistics Canada
Science and technology spending intentions by the Canadian federal government are expected to decrease 6.3% to $14.3 billion in 2022/2023 following seven consecutive periods of increase. While federal science and technology spending intentions are anticipated to decrease, they are likely to exceed the highest level of pre-pandemic science and technology spending, which was realized in 2019/2020 ($12.8 billion). Federal science and technology intensity (the ratio of science and technology spending to the total of all federal government spending, measured as main estimates) is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022/2023 after reaching its highest levels in a decade during the first two years of the pandemic.

Innovation Policy

Assessing national digital strategies and their governance

David Gierten and Molly Leshe, OECD
The form, content and governance of national digital strategies varies significantly across countries, and questions have arisen as to what a national digital strategy should cover and how to govern it. This paper analyses national digital strategies and their governance across countries. It proposes a novel methodology to assess the comprehensiveness of national digital strategies using newly collected policy information and applying the OECD Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework as a benchmark. The resulting indicator – the NDSC – measures national digital strategy comprehensiveness, providing insights into the potential of a country’s national digital strategy to co-ordinate the policies needed to make digital transformation work for growth and well-being. The NDSC is available interactively on the OECD Going Digital Toolkit.

Mitacs Innovation Intermediaries

The Mitacs Innovation Intermediaries project will provide an in-depth look at how Mitacs works in practice to support research and innovation through academic-industry collaboration. Innovation intermediaries are actors in innovation ecosystems that support collaboration between two or more parties, during various stages of the innovation process. This is the first of two reports on innovation intermediaries. It examines the “what, why, and how” of innovation intermediaries: what they are, why they play a role in supporting innovation, and how they function. It draws on examples of intermediary practice in Canada, with a particular focus on their role in supporting collaboration between Canadian academic institutions and organizations.

Regulating the International Digital Economy, with Trade and Innovation in Mind

Douglas Lippoldt, CIGI Paper No. 265

The international digital economy is growing rapidly, and the fragmented governance framework is struggling to keep pace. Global entities such as the World Trade Organization and regional trade agreements offer a patchwork approach to governance. This paper illustrates the importance of governance in relation to private-sector innovation and recommends next steps to enhance governance, close gaps and promote further innovation. Better definition and international alignment of the framework for governance of digital trade and data could lead to greater privacy, trust and security.

Innovation Playbook

The Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI)
The Innovation Playbook offers an accessible and actionable instrument to translate the Declaration on Public Sector Innovation into practical guidance on how its principles can be applied to solve public sector challenges. Specifically intended for top officials and middle-managers, it helps users assess and expand their awareness on innovative challenges, identify opportunities for improvement in public sector systems and translate the innovation principles and commitments into concrete action. The Playbook allows for transversal assessments and interventions across government and is usable as an encompassing approach to organisational strategies to innovation. Comprised of 167 options for action (“plays”), 34 toolkits and 32 global case study examples, the Playbook nurtures and supports public sector innovation.

Policy Digest

With new $7.5 billion SQRI2 strategy, Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon aims to close the productivity gap with Ontario

Josh Scott, BetaKit
This Betakit article includes an exclusive interview with Québec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, in which he summarizes Quebec’s recently announced $7.5 billion Québec Research and Investment in Innovation Strategy (SQRI2). As the title of the article reflects, Fitzgibbon is “not happy” with the provice’s R&D commercialization performance. The strategy builds on the province’s previous $5.4 billion Québec Research and Innovation Strategy (QRIS), which expired at the end of March. SQRI2 includes about $3 billion in innovation tax credits, and nearly $2 billion in new commitments. The latter amount consists of $1.3 billion from Québec’s latest, R&D-heavy budget, $600 million in investment capital, and $75 million in investments in the Québec Infrastructure Plan.

SQRI2 includes the following initiatives:

  • $1.43 billion for building on the province’s strength in fundamental research, supporting work done by the Québec Research Fund, and connecting the province’s research ecosystem.
  • $275 million for supporting intellectual property and tech transfer. Québec took steps last year with the launch of Axelys, a new tech transfer institution. Fitzgibbon described this Axelys as an “engine to do that knowledge transfer from academia to incubation, so to speak.
  • $908 million for tech entrepreneurship and stimulating commercialization.
  • $110 million towards incubators, accelerators, and pre-commercialization startups, and $600 million for a fund-of-funds that will provide capital to other VC funds across the financing chain, with an eye toward early-stage firms. Fitzgibbon said the province added “investment” to the strategy’s name because Québec also needs to do a better job on this front.

More Targeted Investments:

Fitzgibbon plans to concentrate on sectors where Québec is already “very strong,” including cleantech, battery, aluminum, aerospace, life sciences, artificial intelligence, and energy. He noted that “We’ll focus on where we are good…At the end of the day, we need to decide where we as a government would be involved…I don’t believe, in a place like Québec, we can spread the money around because then we will be average everywhere. I’d like to be a champion in some segments.”

Links to recent IPL webinars

The Politics of Decarbonization

Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

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 is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Co-Director of the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.


  • Brendan Haley is Policy Research Director at Efficiency Canada, a research and advocacy organization based at Carleton University. He has a PhD in Public Policy from Carleton University and was awarded a Banting postdoctoral fellowship where his work examined Canadian energy transitions from political economy and technological innovation perspectives.
  • Sara Hastings-Simon is macro energy system researcher and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary where she directs the Masters of Science in Sustainable Energy Development.
  • Nathan Lemphers is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and former Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smart Prosperity Institute where he researched the regional political economy of electric vehicles. Sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

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


16th edition Regional Innovation Policies Conference 2022: 

September 22-24, 2022, University of Padova
The theme of the conference is Radical and sustainable innovation in clusters and multi specialized regions. The literature on regional innovation has been paying increasing attention to improving the quality and sustainability of innovation rather than its intensity. The global challenges raised by the objective of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals ask for an investigation of the drivers of a responsible and sustainable innovation process in clusters and regions. The conference encourages submissions from scholars, practitioners, innovators, and leaders who are forging ahead with strategies to shift towards sustainability and technological change in regions.

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