The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 475

News from the IPL


Urban Governance and Civic Capital: Analysis of an Evolving Concept

David Wolfe & Jen Nelles, Territory, Politics, Governance
This article argues that the concept of civic capital affords considerable insight into systems of urban economic development, usefully bridging gaps in both institution-centric and social capital approaches. While the concept has been applied in the literature on urban governance and economic development, its use has been fragmentary and has not seen broad engagement. This review of the state of the literature situates the concept of civic capital relative to existing literature in the field, highlights its relationship to other concepts, and reviews several qualitative approaches that apply the concept to case studies. It provides an overview of the concept and a description of the way it has developed alongside the rich literature on governance and social capital in urban development to illustrate its potential for further analytical study.

Disruptive innovation and spatial inequality

Tom Kemeny, Sergio Petralia, & Michael Storper, Regional Studies
Although technological change is widely credited as driving the last 200 years of economic growth, its role in shaping patterns of inequality remains under-explored. Drawing parallels across two industrial revolutions in the United States, this paper provides new evidence of a relationship between highly disruptive forms of innovation and spatial inequality. Using the universe of patents granted between 1920 and 2010 by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the authors identify disruptive innovations through their rapid growth, complementarity with other innovations and widespread use. They then assign more and less disruptive innovations to subnational regions in the geography of the United States. We document three findings that are new to the literature. First, disruptive innovations exhibit distinctive spatial clustering in phases understood to be those in which industrial revolutions reshape the economy; they are increasingly dispersed in other periods. Second, the authors discover that the ranks of locations that capture the most disruptive innovation are relatively unstable across industrial revolutions. Third, regression estimates suggest a role for disruptive innovation in regulating overall patterns of spatial output and income inequality.

Editor's Pick

Facilitating public procurement of innovation in the UK defence and health sectors: Innovation intermediaries as institutional entrepreneurs

Kostas Selviaridis, Alan Hughes, & Martin Spring, Research Policy
This paper investigates how innovation intermediaries promote institutional change to facilitate public procurement of innovation (PPI). Several of the PPI implementation challenges reported in prior research originate in the institutional architecture underpinning demand articulation, and innovation procurement and adoption processes. This paper conceptualises innovation intermediaries as institutional entrepreneurs who seek to create new institutions or adjust existing ones to support PPI implementation. The authors report the results of two case studies of intermediaries facilitating PPI in the UK defence and health sectors, respectively. They contribute to PPI intermediation literature by showing that intermediaries address prevalent institutional failures through four types of institutional entrepreneurship activities: boundary spanning; advocacy; design of change; and capacity building. The report elucidates, in particular, the role of individuals within intermediaries, as agents who learn about failures and adapt their institutional work over time. In doing so, these managers go beyond the remit and goals of the organisations they represent. The findings add to our understanding of how intermediaries support demand articulation for PPI by showing that their institutional work is also aimed at designing generic methods and processes to improve what is asked for, and how. The authors furthermore reveal conditions influencing the effectiveness of intermediaries' efforts to realise institutional change, thereby extending research on institutional entrepreneurship in PPI settings.

Cities & Regions

The Transatlantic Subnational Innovation Competitiveness Index

In this report, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the German Economic Institute, the Institute for Competitiveness, and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute benchmark the innovation competitiveness of 96 states and regions across Germany, Italy, the United States, and Canada. Based on 13 indicators of knowledge, globalization, and innovation capacity, the 5 top-ranked states are Massachusetts, California, Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, and Washington. German states generally perform much better than those of the United States, Canada, and Italy. On knowledge economy indicators, America outperforms peers in higher-education attainment, and Canada attracts the most skilled immigrant workers, while Germany exhibits strength in scientific, technical, and professional employment. In the globalization category, Canada, followed by the United States, leads in inward foreign direct investment (FDI), while Germany and Italy produce greater levels of high-tech exports relative to regional gross domestic product (GDP).

OECD Regions and Cities at a Glance 2022

OECD Regions and Cities at a Glance presents indicators on individual regions and cities since the turn of the new millennium. It provides a comprehensive picture of past successes and likely challenges that regions and cities in OECD members and partner countries will face in their efforts to build stronger, more sustainable and more resilient economies. By relying on a combination of traditional and more innovative data sources, OECD Regions and Cities at a Glance describes the evolving nature of spatial disparities within countries from a multidimensional perspective. New topics covered by this edition include the economic impact of recent shocks, such as the pandemic and the energy crisis, housing affordability, climate change and digitalisation.

Assessing the importance of proximity dimensions for the diffusion of radical innovations in German biotechnology

Mariia Shkolnykova, European Planning Studies
This paper estimates the impact of the different proximity dimensions on the subsequent innovation performance of firms which received radical knowledge spillovers. The analysis for the case of biotechnology small- and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in Germany is based on a dataset covering the period from 1998 to 2017. Results indicate the positive impact of social and organizational proximity on the innovation performance of radical knowledge recipients. Geographical proximity has a negative impact, whereas for cognitive proximity a U-shaped relation is observed. The paper contributes to the innovation economics and economic geography literature by underlining the peculiarities of the effectiveness of radical knowledge spillovers. Additionally, the importance of policy support for SMEs across regions and technological fields is highlighted.


Further and Further Away: Canada’s unrealized digital potential

Viet Vu, Brookfield Institute
This report examines patterns of change in tech work and productivity in a 15-year study period to identify the degree of participation exclusion and pay inequity across selected identities, including race, sex, education level, and immigration status. The report’s results overwhelmingly show that Canada must improve in nurturing, developing, and using our digital talent. Pay gaps and the continued marginalization of participation in tech work have revealed that those who create and use technologies in Canada do not represent those who live and work here.

Innovation Policy

EU agrees €12.4B budget for Horizon Europe in 2023

Goda Naujokaitytė, Science|Business
After weeks-long negotiations, the European Parliament and the member states last night settled on a €12.4 billion budget for the Horizon Europe research programme in 2023. The final result reverses a €663 million cut proposed by member states, and adds around €10 million in funding for energy and climate-related research, compared to the draft budget proposed by the European Commission in June.

Policy Digest

The future of place-based economic policy: Early insights from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Joseph Parilla, Glencora Haskins, and Mark Muro, The Brookings Institution
This report provides early observations on the design and selection phase of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC)—a challenge grant administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The BBBRC is the EDA’s signature American Rescue Plan (ARP) recovery program. The BBBRC provides five-year grants ranging from $25 million to $65 million across 21 regions competitively selected from a pool of 60 coalitions of businesses, governments, universities, and community-based organizations. Winning coalitions implement strategies to develop nationally critical industry clusters in ways that deliver economic opportunity to traditionally underserved people and communities. Specifically, the report details the following 7 findings:

  1. Through large-scale, flexible funding, the BBBRC accelerated path-breaking regional economic development planning and coalition-building—a process that significantly strained the capacity of the 60 finalists. Narrowing the BBBRC’s 529 Phase 1 applicants to the 60 selected in phase 2 created an outpouring of interest. This illustrated the power of the “jump-ball” funding effect: how competitive federal programs can not only align regional leaders around a shared vision, but also inspire tremendous effort among those coalitions to develop comprehensive plans under ambitious deadlines.

  2. Across the 60 finalists, the BBBRC supported three different types of cluster-based economic development initiatives—maximizing the program’s relevance across urban, rural, and tribal communities. Contenders: Twenty-two coalitions focused on emerging clusters, contending that they could use federal investment to accelerate low-maturity clusters (often in the energy space) into growing and established clusters. Extenders: Twenty-one coalitions focused on established clusters, often in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, and information technology. Because these clusters are mature but not yet distressed, these coalitions’ objective was to extend the reach of the cluster’s assets in ways that enhance competitiveness and benefit more people and businesses within the region. Reinventors: The remaining 17 coalitions focused on declining clusters. These high-maturity clusters (often in agriculture and natural resources) have been under competitive threat for decades, and coalitions are now seeking federal resources to reinvigorate them.

  3. The BBBRC required applicants to create a coherent portfolio of proposed interventions, but left it to them to determine which specific projects would best advance their clusters. The BBBRC’s designers recognized that cluster-based economic development requires multiple investments in several critical elements of economic competitiveness: talent development, research and commercialization, infrastructure and placemaking, entrepreneurship, and governance. Yet the BBBRC allowed regional coalitions considerable flexibility when designing interventions.

  4. The BBBRC yielded three proposed cluster governance models, reflecting the diversity of institutions that co-govern local communities. There was significant variation in how BBBRC coalitions organized themselves, divided up projects, and distributed funding. 22 coalitions had a lead organization allocating more than half of the total budget request. Of the deploying this centralized governance model, half were led by research universities. At the other end of the spectrum, 27 coalitions had facilitative governance models, in which the lead organization was allocated less than 25% of the coalition’s total budget. Finally, another 11 coalitions operated shared governance models, in which the lead organization manages between 25% and 50% of the project portfolio.

  5. Nearly 30% of total requested funding came from non-federal sources, including local and state governments, industry partners, and philanthropy. The EDA encouraged matching resources from several sources: lead applicants, local governments, state governments, and other sources (e.g., industry, philanthropy, etc.). Across all 60 Phase 2 applications, federal resources accounted for approximately 71% of the total requested funding. Applicants themselves accounted for another 13% of funds, followed by state governments (6%), other sources (6%), and local governments (4%).

  6. BBBRC coalitions will measure their impact through a uniquely broad mix of economic development metrics. Over 90% of coalitions chose to track metrics related to markets and business networks, human capital and workforce, economic activity and employment, and engagement and governance in at least one component project within their portfolio. Less commonly, coalitions included production and business capacity metrics (82%), financing and investment metrics (67%), and innovation and commercialization metrics (53%).

  7. The BBBRC’s top priority was equity, but finalists had mixed success embedding equity in strategies, governance, and metrics. The EDA encouraged applicants to consider how federal funds would benefit populations that have suffered from historical and systemic discrimination, disinvestment, and disenfranchisement. Many applications referenced intentional efforts to conduct community outreach and engage community-based organizations during planning and implementation phases. But most coalitions struggled to develop comprehensive equity plans that integrated equity into a governance model, articulated each intervention’s intended outcomes for historically excluded communities, and developed concrete metrics to track outcomes for these communities over time.

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


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