The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 468

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.


Impacts and implications for the post-COVID city: the case of Toronto

Shauna Brail, Mark Kleinman, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Since the onset of COVID-19, scholars have questioned whether the pandemic will alter the fundamentals propelling the growth of global cities. Using a case study of Toronto, the paper examines and analyses changes impacting the city because of the pandemic, with a focus on work, mobility and housing. In assessing pandemic-related disruption, it outlines the experiences of the early phases of recovery and expectations of continued uncertainty. Moving through and beyond COVID-19, Toronto appears unlikely to move up the rankings of global cities. The city’s status as a second-tier global city is an enduring competitive advantage, likely to persist post-COVID.

Who Does What Series: The Municipal Role in Economic Development

Shauna Brail, Charles Conteh, & Leann Hackman-Carty, Institute on Municipal Finance & Governance
Ensuring a growing and vibrant economy is a priority for all orders of government, including municipalities. Changes in the economy, including the rise of globalization and the emergence of new disruptive technologies, have altered government approaches to economic development policy. Alongside tax incentives intended to encourage business to relocate to their community, municipalities also favour cluster strategies to strengthen the competitiveness of cities and city-regions through collaboration across governments, the private sector, universities, and civil society organizations. The three papers in this report – written by academics and practitioners – examine the role of municipalities in economic development through the perspectives of large cities, small and mid-sized cities, and with respect to innovation policy in particular. They identify where municipalities currently face constraints, how other orders of government can support municipalities, and where intergovernmental cooperation is needed. See also the associated podcast by IPL Senior Associate Shauna Brail.

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

Regional artificial intelligence and the geography of environmental technologies: does local AI knowledge help regional green-tech specialization?

Gloria Cicerone, Alessandra Faggian, Sandro Montresor & Francesco Rentocchini, Regional Studies
This article investigates the extent to which artificial intelligence (AI) is harnessed by regions for specializing in green technologies. By considering the transformative role that AI is playing in the invention process and connecting it to the regional development of environmental technologies, the authors examine the relationship between green-revealed technological advantages and local AI for EU-28 (NUTS-3) regions over the period 1982–2017. Results show that AI knowledge favours the green-tech specialization of regions, provided that they were already green-tech specialized in the past. Conversely, AI even reduces this capacity in regions that have not already specialized in green technologies.

Cities & Regions

The new paradigm of economic complexity

Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Tom Broekel, Dario Diodato, Elisa Giuliani, Ricardo Hausmann, Neave O’Clery, David Rigby, Research Policy
Economic complexity offers a potentially powerful paradigm to understand key societal issues and challenges of our time. The underlying idea is that growth, development, technological change, income inequality, spatial disparities, and resilience are the visible outcomes of hidden systemic interactions. The study of economic complexity seeks to understand the structure of these interactions and how they shape various socioeconomic processes. This emerging field relies heavily on big data and machine learning techniques. This brief introduction to economic complexity has three aims. The first is to summarize key theoretical foundations and principles of economic complexity. The second is to briefly review the tools and metrics developed in the economic complexity literature that exploit information encoded in the structure of the economy to find new empirical patterns. The final aim is to highlight the insights from economic complexity to improve prediction and political decision-making.


Research and development in Canadian industry: Intellectual property, 2020 (final)

Statistics Canada
Businesses who performed and/or funded R&D activities indicated that they received payments for (or sold) $6.5 billion worth of intangible property, including IP, software and technological services, in 2020. This is a 49.5% increase over total sales from 2019 and the largest increase since 2014, when software was first included as a category. Software sales, which increased by 83.1% to make up more than three quarters of intangible property receipts, were largely responsible for the increase. While sales increased, intangible property purchases by companies with R&D expenditures fell by 9.9% to $1.7 billion in 2020, the fourth consecutive annual decrease. A 31.1% decline in domestic purchases from Canadian companies was behind the decrease, while imports of intangible property rose by 18.6%.

Innovation Policy

Towards a new stage in Norway’s science, technology and innovation system: Improving the long-term plan for research and higher education

Philippe Larrue and Rebecca Santos, OECD
This study assesses the implementation of the recommendations from the OECD Innovation Policy Review of Norway 2017 along four major themes: (1) Developing research communities of outstanding quality; (2) Enhancing competitiveness and innovation capacity; (3) Tackling major social challenges; and (4) Improving the governance of the science, technology and innovation system. The results of this assessment are then used to identify new opportunities for reforms in the Norwegian Long-term plan for Research and Higher Education 2023-2032.

Congress passes modified competitiveness legislation

Jason Rittenberg, SSTI
This post summarizes the recently approved new version of legislation to incentivize semiconductor manufacturing facilities, create a Regional Technology Hubs program, and reauthorize many science-related agencies. The Senate passed the bill on July 27th, and the House passed the legislation a day later. The bill’s latest nickname is “Chips and Science,” a reference to the presence of appropriations for semiconductor manufacturing incentives and R&D (previously authorized when the “CHIPS” act was added to the FY 2021 defense authorization bill), as well as many authorization provisions for other innovation and research activities that have previously been included in USICA and COMPETES.

Policy Digest

National Quantum Strategy Consultations: What We Heard Report

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Budget 2021 allocated $360 million in investments over seven years to launch a National Quantum Strategy (NQS). In order to move forward to develop and implement the NQS, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) held five invitational roundtables with key stakeholders between July 20 and August 5, 2021.  Seventy stakeholders from large and small business, industry associations, not-for-profits, and universities and colleges across Canada attended the roundtables. Each roundtable addressed one of the following three pillars of the NQS: research, commercialization, and talent; or the theme of security or international. In addition, more than 240 individuals submitted anonymous input via the online survey and email.

The report summarizes the consultation findings as follows:

  • The time to act is now, across all fronts, including research, talent, commercialization, international and security.
  • Talent is critical, as we are facing strong international competition to recruit and retain talent.
  • It is premature to pick winners at this stage in quantum’s development, but large investments are required.
  • The overall amount of NQS funding may be insufficient to achieve our goals, especially as other countries have promised to invest more.
  • Improved communications (including a branding strategy) are important to convey the advantages of studying, doing research and operating a business in Canada.
  • Engagement with end-users and consumers is needed to build awareness and address concerns around adoption of quantum technologies.
  • Domestic and international collaboration are essential for Canada to remain a leader in quantum.
  • Canada’s domestic market is small, so we need to connect with researchers and businesses in other countries right from the start.

In addition, findings emerged regarding issues specific to the NQS pillars and themes:

  • Research – the importance of alignment of efforts; sequencing of NQS activities; and equitable access to quantum technologies.
  • Commercialization – potential application areas; approaches to advance adoption of quantum technologies; the need to nurture a quantum ecosystem in Canada; and scale-up of quantum commercial activity.
  • Talent – the importance of addressing education and training; equity, diversity and inclusion in the quantum workforce; skills challenges; and the translation of knowledge beyond the quantum sector.
  • Security – the urgency of laying the groundwork for quantum security; promoting adoption of security solutions; capitalizing on areas of commercial opportunity; and securing supply chains.
  • International – related findings are woven into all sections, due to the nature of the international theme.

Other findings related to the societal and ethical considerations of quantum technology, the establishment of an advisory body, intellectual property (IP) considerations and the importance of participating in the development of international standards for quantum technologies.

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