The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 469

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

Five months in, details on Canada’s new Innovation and Investment Agency remain sparse

Charles Mandel, Betakit
This article includes comments by IPL Co-Director Dan Breznitz (and other experts) on the creation of Canada’s new innovation and investment agency. First announced in Budget 2022, the independent agency aims to improve Canada’s low rate of private business investment in research, development, and the uptake of new technologies. The article notes that “since the budget announcement, the federal government has little to offer about what the agency will look like, its role, how it will work.” The article proceeds to summarize comments by a variety of experts on what the agency should look like.

Cities & Regions

Creative Clusters and Creative Multipliers: Evidence from UK Cities

Diana Gutierrez-Posada, Tasos Kitsos, Max Nathan, & Massimiliano Nuccio, Economic Geography
Economic geographers have paid much attention to the cultural and creative industries, both for their propensity to cluster in urban settings, and their potential to drive urban economic development. However, evidence on the latter is surprisingly sparse. In this article, the authors explore the long-term, causal impacts of the cultural and creative industries on surrounding urban economies. Adapting Moretti’s local multipliers framework, they build a new twenty-year panel of UK cities, using historical instruments to identify causal effects of creative activity on noncreative firms and employment. They find that each creative job generates at least 1.9 nontradable jobs between 1998 and 2018. Prior to 2007, these effects seem more rooted in creative services employees’ local spending than visitors to creative amenities. Given the low numbers of creative jobs in most cities, the overall impact of the creative multiplier is small. On average, the creative sector is responsible for over 16 percent of nontradable job growth in our sample, though impacts will be larger in bigger clusters. The authors do not find the same effects for workplaces, and we find no causal evidence for spillovers from creative activity to other tradable sectors. In turn, this implies that creative city policies will have partial, uneven local economic impacts. Given extensive urban clusters of creative activity in many countries, the results hold value beyond the UK setting.


The knowledge spillover of innovation

David B. Audretsch, Maksim Belitski, Industrial and Corporate Change
This study advances our understanding of knowledge spillover of innovation, putting a firm’s own R&D investment and knowledge spillovers to a competitive test. We use three matched databases of 15,430 firms in the United Kingdom (UK) during the period 2002–2014 in order to demonstrate that knowledge spillovers emanating from R&D investment within and between industries have different effects on innovation compared to imitation and that the ability to access spillover is conditional on the firm’s own investment in R&D. This study furthers our understanding in two different ways. Firstly, it supports the two faces of the R&D story. Second, it demonstrates that the relationship between knowledge spillover and firm innovation depends on the firm’s own investment in R&D and reveals the positive effects of knowledge transfer as well as factors limiting the use of spillovers such as industry competition, transaction costs, and eventually innovation type.

Innovation Policy

Minister Ng launches Global Hypergrowth Project Selection Panel to help scale up Canadian companies and grow local economies

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
This article summarizes the recent inaugural meeting of the Selection Panel for the Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP), hosted by Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, joined by senior officials from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The GHP will provide direct support to up to 15 Canadian firms, helping them navigate and overcome challenges—like exporting barriers, regulatory challenges and more—in order to accelerate their growth and help create good, local jobs in communities across Canada.

How Europe aims to achieve strategic autonomy for semiconductors

Paul Timmers, Brookings
This article summarizes the recent efforts of European policymakers to strengthen the continent’s strategic technological autonomy via the EU Chips Act. The Act provides billions in financial support to set up factories for advanced chip production (so-called “fabs”) and step up semiconductor research in the EU.

Busting the myths around public investment in clean energy

Jonas Meckling, Joseph E. Aldy, Matthew J. Kotchen, Sanya Carley, Daniel C. Esty, Peter A. Raymond, Bella Tonkonogy, Charles Harper, Gillian Sawyer & Julia Sweatman, Nature Energy
This article summarizes recent public finance investments focused on climate change. The authors note that “critics have opposed clean energy public investment by claiming that governments must not pick winners, green subsidies enable rent-seeking behaviour, and failed companies means failed policy” and that “these arguments are problematic and should not determine the direction of energy investment policies.”

Policy Digest

Towards a new vision of innovation through COVID-19? A comparative reading of 11 countries’ strategies

Hunter McGuire and Caroline Paunov, OECD
This paper discusses how countries’ vision for science, technology and innovation (STI) priorities has evolved through COVID-19. The analysis was conducted on a sample of 171 STI strategy documents from 11 countries that were released between 2013 and 2021. Depending on the context, these documents seek to build consensus, manage actors, communicate or signal directions for policy, or achieve internal organisational motives. Most of the documents that have emerged since the COVID-19 crisis focus on a dominant ambitious societal goal and specific technologies to implement that goal. For example, environmental sustainability is a shared goal across different countries’ STI strategies, but its specific meaning differs. Most countries’ STI strategies also identify digitalisation as an important tool to achieve other socio-economic goals. Inclusivity is prominent in agendas reflecting country-specific circumstance. Improving resilience is a shared priority and increased in prominence with the COVID-19 experience.

Specifically, the study reviews the STI strategy documents of 11 OECD countries: Australia, Austria,
Canada, Chile, Finland, Italy, Germany, Japan, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, and the United States. Its results are based on an examination of 171 documents across these 11 countries, ranging from 8 and 25 per country and generally written between 2013 and 2021 (thus capturing both the pre–COVID–19 period and the intra–COVID–19 period). The analysis involved a comparative qualitative assessment along four core topics
(environmental sustainability, digitalisation, resilience and inclusivity), interviews with national policy makers to contextualise and enrich initial findings from the assessment, and a review of the structure and function of STI strategy documents in national innovation systems.

Six findings emerge from the analysis:

  1. Governments produce STI strategy documents that are adapted to national needs and governance practices. Depending on the national environment, STI strategy documents may seek to build consensus, manage actors, communicate or signal directions for policy, or achieve internal organisational motives.
  2. Most national STI strategy documents are organised around a dominant societal goal, often emphasising strongly social and ecological objectives in addition to economic goals. More ambitious societal goals and specific technologies to implement those goals have emerged since the COVID–19 crisis.
  3. Environmental sustainability is a shared goal across STI strategies, but its meaning differs between countries. The specific priority targets for the green transition and the proposed technologies to build green transitions differ.
  4. Most countries’ national STI strategies identify digitalization as an important tool for achieving other socio–economic goals.
  5. Inclusivity explicitly reflects country–specific circumstances and social priorities.
  6. Protecting STI ecosystems and using STI to build more resilience is a shared priority across countries following the COVID–19 shock.

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.

Subscriptions & Comments

Please forward this newsletter to anyone you think will find it of value. We look forward to collaborating with you on this initiative. If you would like to comment on, or contribute to, the content, subscribe or unsubscribe, please contact us at .

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