The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 471

News from the IPL


Poster for event

Join us on Monday, October 17 from 4-6pm as the Innovation Policy Lab Speaker Series is joined by two colleagues from the University of Manchester who will discuss the current challenges in innovation in the UK and the EU.

Topics include:

Towards a place and challenge-based innovation policy – Professor Elvira Uyarra, The University of Manchester

Innovation policy debates increasingly recognise societal challenges as drivers for innovation policy. This has motivated a ‘normative turn’ that advocates greater challenge orientation in innovation policy and targeted policies to articulate societal needs in order to deliver better, not just more, innovations. In parallel, regional innovation policy agendas such as the EU smart specialisation focus on selectively building on unique place-specific characteristics and assets, but it is somewhat agnostic about the direction of innovation. While mission oriented and transformative innovation policy agendas have been criticised for their lack of attention to context and the ‘messy realities’ of policy implementation, smart specialisation has been seen as too incremental, narrowing down the options and approaches for less developed regions, and neglecting more transformative means of value capture. This talk will bring together these agendas, their key challenges and shortcomings, and the need for an integrated place-based innovation policy.

What’s the problem with UK science and innovation policy? – Professor Kieron Flanagan, The University of Manchester

The UK was an industrial and scientific pioneer. Yet for nearly as long, the country has fretted about falling behind industrial and technological competitors. For decades the UK’s not terribly impressive R&D/GDP ratio of around 1.7% has resisted all attempts to improve it. For historical reasons, UK government R&D spending is unusually biased towards the ‘basic’ end of the spectrum by international standards, and the geographical distribution of that spending is highly concentrated on a small number of institutions in a few places – the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London. Now the UK is once again aiming to transform its technological fortunes, with increases in public spending in the pipeline and a target of 2.4% of GDP to be spent on R&D by 2027. The hope is that this additional R&D effort will help ‘rebalance’ regional growth prospects and drive improvements in productivity. This talk will examine why the UK seems to be stuck, what progress has been made in unsticking it, and will draw out some broader questions about why we should fund scientific and technological research and what we should hope to gain from it.

Poster for event

Join us on November 3 from 4-6pm for Does Skill Make us Human? Migrant Workers in 21st-Century Qatar and Beyond

Skill—specifically the distinction between the “skilled” and “unskilled”—is generally defined as a measure of ability and training, but Does Skill Make Us Human? shows instead that skill distinctions are used to limit freedom, narrow political rights, and even deny access to imagination and desire. In the lead up to the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has drawn on cutting-edge material, design, and information technology to rebuild itself as a global elite destination for sports and culture. An examination of the Qatar’s booming construction industry and the experiences of migrant workers it relies on reveals that skill functions as a marker of social difference powerful enough to structure all aspects of social and economic life.

Through unique access to construction sites in Doha, in-depth research, and interviews, Iskander explores how migrants are recruited, trained, and used. Despite their acquisition of advanced technical skills, workers are commonly described as unskilled and disparaged as “unproductive,” “poor quality,” or simply “bodies.” She demonstrates that skill categories adjudicate personhood, creating hierarchies that shape working conditions, labor recruitment, migration policy, the design of urban spaces, and the reach of global industries. Increasingly, these skill politics structure the relationship between work, working conditions and climate change. Skill distinctions define industry responses to global warming, with employers recruiting migrants from climate-damaged places at lower wages and exposing these workers to Qatar’s extreme heat.

About the Speaker

Natasha N. Iskander, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, conducts research on the relationship between migration and economic development. She looks at the ways that immigration and the movement of people across borders can provide the basis for the creation of new knowledge and of new pathways for political change. She has published widely on these questions, looking specifically at immigration, skill, economic development, and worker rights.


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

Innovative policy will shape the future of Canada – and has the potential to transform the world

The Mitacs Skills for Innovation project will deliver a series of reports examining the skills needed for different innovation activities in the Canadian economy. The project leverages Mitacs’s unique ability to survey employer organizations and interns involved in a wide array of innovation projects and offers granular insights into the specific skills required by individuals and organizations for different kinds of innovation, as well as their different stages, and activities. In the first report of the Skills for Innovation series, Creig Lamb and Dr. Daniel Munro (Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and Shift Insights) provide clarity on the technical and professional skills needed for different kinds of innovation. Their examination of the survey responses of organizations and interns involved in Mitacs programming about the skills needed to innovate further reveals several critical skill gaps in the Canadian economy. These insights are used to develop a set of recommendations for employers, workers, and skills training organizations designed to sharpen Canada’s skills advantage and improve its innovation performance.

Cities & Regions

Think Like a Region: Strengthening the Toronto Region’s Talent Advantage

Toronto Region Board of Trade
This report highlights the crucial links between municipal cooperation, talent attraction, investment attraction and economic competitiveness in the Toronto region. To maintain our region’s talent advantage globally, the report asserts that municipalities must think like a region and hit go on: Developing a collective regional economic strategy for growth, competitiveness, and shared prosperity; Embracing best practices for investment attraction by doubling-down on a unified approach to FDI promotion; Focusing on the power of place-making to strengthen the regional talent pipeline; Harnessing the potential of remote and hybrid work trends to boost economic growth in the region; and advocating for municipal finance reform.

Here’s how to make sure America’s new industrial policy benefits workers and entrepreneurs across the country, not just a handful of superstar urban regions

Xavier de Souza Briggs and Mark Muro, Brookings Institute
This post summarizes best practices to inform recent developments in U.S. regional development policy. The report discusses strategies to overcome myths about development policy and draws inspiration from the Economic Development Administration’s recently announced 21 awards, ranging from $25 million to $65 million across 24 very different states. The report notes how this program’s regional alliances have developed “serious plans to link economic innovation and growth with inclusion.”


September 2022 Edition of Main Science and Technology Indicators

This biannual publication provides a set of indicators that reflect the level and structure of the efforts undertaken by OECD member countries and seven non-member economies in the field of science and technology. These data include final or provisional results as well as forecasts established by government authorities. The indicators cover the resources devoted to research and development, patent families and international trade in R&D-intensive industries. Also presented are the underlying economic series used to calculate these indicators.

Micro-data based insights on trends in business R&D performance and funding

This report presents new insights on trends in business R&D performance and funding, drawing on the micro-aggregated R&D and tax relief statistics collected for 21 OECD countries as part of the OECD microBeRD project. Micro-aggregated statistics provide an important input for policy analysis, highlighting important variations in business R&D performance and funding across industries and different types of firms that are hard to uncover based on aggregate R&D and tax relief statistics. They shed light on country and industry specific trends in the concentration of R&D activity, business R&D dynamics, the structure of R&D performance among different types of firms and the way that they fund their R&D activities. Such evidence can be relevant in assessing the contribution of different types of firms (e.g. young firms, foreign-controlled affiliates) and individuals (e.g. female R&D staff, doctorate holders) to research and development in the business sector and designing business R&D support policies.

Innovation Policy

Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022: Accelerating Sector Transitions Through Stronger International Collaboration

International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions
This is a first-of-its-kind annual progress report, requested by world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November 2021 as part of the launch of the Breakthrough Agenda. The Breakthrough Agenda currently covers more than two-thirds of the global economy, with endorsement from 45 world leaders, including those of the G7, China and India. The report is designed to inform policy makers, business leaders and civil society organisations of the most urgent ways to strengthen collaboration in and across major emitting sectors ahead of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh in September 2022, the next UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and beyond. This inaugural report assesses progress on reducing emissions in five key sectors – power, hydrogen, road transport, steel and agriculture. The authors make recommendations to strengthen collaboration between governments, business and civil society in areas such as common standards, technology R&D, reaching a level playing field for trade, and improving technical and financial assistance.

Policy Digest

DOE National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap (draft)

U.S. Department of Energy
This draft report sets forth the “DOE National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap.” This draft report provides a snapshot of hydrogen production, transport, storage, and use in the United States today and the opportunity that clean hydrogen could provide in contributing to national goals across sectors. Going forward, the DOE will elicit stakeholder feedback through opportunities, such as workshops and listening sessions, and use this feedback to finalize the report and then develop updates as required by the BIL.

Background: In November 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which authorizes and appropriates $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), including $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen. Furthermore, in August 2022, the President signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law, which provides additional policies and incentives for hydrogen including a production tax credit which will further boost a U.S. market for clean hydrogen.

Targets: Pathways for clean hydrogen to decarbonize applications are informed by demand scenarios for 2030, 2040, and 2050 – with strategic opportunities for 10 million metric tonnes (MMT) of clean hydrogen annually by 2030, 20 MMT annually by 2040, and 50 MMT annually by 2050. Using clean hydrogen can reduce U.S. emission approximately 10 percent by 2050 relative to 2005, consistent with the U.S. Long-Term climate strategy.

Three key strategies

1) Target strategic, high-impact uses for clean hydrogen. This will ensure that clean hydrogen will be utilized in the highest value applications, where limited deep decarbonization alternatives exist. Specific markets include the industrial sector, heavy-duty transportation, and long-duration energy storage to enable a clean grid. Long-term opportunities include the potential for exporting clean hydrogen or hydrogen carriers and enabling energy security for our allies.

2) Reduce the cost of clean hydrogen. The Hydrogen Energy Earthshot (Hydrogen Shot) launched in 2021 will catalyze both innovation and scale, stimulating private sector investments, spurring development across the hydrogen supply chain, and dramatically reducing the cost of clean hydrogen. Efforts will also address critical material and supply chain vulnerabilities and design for efficiency, durability, and recyclability.

3) Focus on regional networks. This includes regional clean hydrogen hubs to enable large-scale clean hydrogen production and end-use in proximity, enabling critical mass infrastructure, driving scale, and facilitating market lift off while leveraging place-based opportunities for equity, inclusion, and sustainability. Priorities will include near term impact, creating jobs – including good paying union jobs – and jumpstarting domestic manufacturing and private sector investment.

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 Master’s 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


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