The IPL newsletter: Volume 23, Issue 476

News from the IPL


Visualizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Toronto

Shauna Brail
This article takes stock of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on Toronto. The article notes that the examination of policy measures and pandemic-related metrics, in combination with data visualization, can shed light on our past, inform decisions about managing in the present, and help guide us to a more resilient future. As we plan for Toronto’s recovery and future, we need to prioritize data. Access to data, understanding of what datasets do and do not represent, and the resources needed to obtain, interpret and share data publicly are critical components in the creation of an adaptive and resilient city.

Skills development for innovation and growth: Insights from global initiatives

Daniel Munro & Creig Lamb, Future Skills Centre
Canada’s innovation economy faces a dual challenge. Firms that want to innovate and grow often struggle to find workers with the right skills and knowledge, while many workers have difficulty finding and participating in education and training initiatives that would help them develop the skills and knowledge they need. Some firms address the challenge by working with training institutions to reskill their current workforce or develop programs to ensure that new hires have relevant skills and knowledge. Yet, too few pursue this strategy. The result is missed opportunities and foregone growth in the innovation economy. This report and accompanying case studies share insights from three skills for innovation training initiatives which can inform the design and operation of models in Canada. As this briefing and the case studies reveal, well-designed and operated skills for innovation initiatives can improve the skills and well-being of workers and the strength and growth of dynamic regional economic sectors.

Stress-Free Degree Lectures on Demand

IPL Co-Director David Wolfe contributed a lecture for the Stress-Free Degree Lectures series, provided by the Alumni Relations team of the Division of University Advancement. Catch up on timely topics this holiday season at lectures by bold U of T thinkers.  No cost. No homework. A long-standing highlight of U of T’s annual Alumni Reunion, our Stress-Free Degree Lectures are available exclusively for U of T alumni. Watch the 2022 lineup for a limited time. Lectures available December 19, 2022 to January 19, 2023 only. Register today for exclusive access.

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

The geopolitics of AI and the rise of digital sovereignty

Benjamin Cedric Larsen, Brookings
To understand the extent to which we are moving towards varying forms of technological decoupling, this article first describes the unique positions of the European Union, United States and China concerning regulation of data and the governance of artificial intelligence. The article then discusses implications of these different approaches for technological decoupling, and then discusses implications for specific policies around AI, such as the U.S. Algorithmic Accountability Act  the EU’s AI Act, and China’s regulation of recommender engines.

Cities & Regions


Spending on research and development in the higher education sector, 2020/2021

Statistics Canada
The higher education sector is an integral part of Canada's innovation economy and is responsible for a significant portion of the overall research and development performed in Canada. While businesses often focus their R&D on specific interests, higher education institutions cast a broader net by performing R&D across a wide range of disciplines. The results of their findings often serve as key inputs in various industries and are sometimes leveraged to develop new products and services and achieve productivity gains. In 2020/2021, R&D expenditures by the higher education sector in Canada edged up 0.5% from 2019/2020 to $15.9 billion. This increase represented the 11th consecutive annual gain.

Why larger firms produce higher value inventions

This post summarizes a working paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research asked the question, “Do large firms produce more valuable inventions, and if so, why?” The paper estimates that doubling a firm’s size is associated with an increase of between 5 and 16 percent in the value of a given invention, depending on whether or not one controls for the firm’s capitalization. The post also engages with an analysis of the paper that appeared in the November 2022 issue of the NBER Digest.

Race Alongside the Machines: Occupational digitalization trends in Canada, 2006-2021

Ibrahim Abuallail & Viet Vu, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship
This report offers a comprehensive look into how technology has impacted jobs and workers in the last 15 years
, across 500 occupations in Canada. This information is designed to serve as a tool to understand the projected impact of technology on worker outcomes in Canada to ensure that we get the best and avoid the worst of technology-driven innovation.

Innovation Policy

National Semiconductor Economic Roadmap recommends over 100 initiatives to boost semiconductor industry

Emily Chesser, SSTI
This post summarizes a recent report outlining over 100 initiatives that could boost the semiconductor industry. The Arizona Commerce Authority and Boston Consulting Group recently collaborated on a National Semiconductor Economic Roadmap (NSER) to advance semiconductor competitiveness in the United States. The report features input from over 80 industry leaders, education institutions, and public sector leaders across the nation to outline a 10-year, industry-led action plan for the semiconductor industry, focusing on infrastructure, supply chain, workforce, and entrepreneurship.

Quantifying industrial strategies (QuIS): Measuring industrial policy expenditures

Chiara Criscuolo, Guy Lalanne and Luis Díaz, OECD
Industrial policy is sparking renewed interest across OECD member countries and partner economies. However, amidst an increasing number of objectives for industrial policy, and despite the availability of information on countries’ strategies and plans, it remains difficult to properly measure and compare resources spent on industrial policies and identify countries’ strategic priorities. The lack of a cross-country comparable source of information on resources dedicated to industrial policy partly results from the absence of a common methodology to account for industrial policy expenditures. This paper provides a new methodology for reporting industrial policy expenditure in a comparable way across countries. It is the first deliverable of the “Quantifying Industrial Strategies” project, which aims at measuring industrial policy expenditures across OECD countries and will gather harmonised data on industrial policy expenditures, their composition, and their mode of delivery.

Ottawa preparing to go toe-to-toe with U.S. to subsidize EV battery production in Canada

Daniel Leblanc & Louis Blouin, CBC News
This article summarizes recent reports that the Government of Canada is ready to offer new production subsidies to retain or attract electric battery plants. The federal government is preparing to transform its industrial policy and offer of billions of dollars in new subsidies in a bid to shelter Canadian production of electric vehicle batteries from the threat posed by the United States' Inflation Reduction Act, sources say. The article notes that "the new measures would be a game-changer for Canada's industrial policy" due to the fact that "for decades, government programs have been based on funding 'non-recurring' capital expenditures, such as the construction or modernization of factories."

Bill C-34 - National Security Review of Investments Modernization Act: An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act

Government of Canada
Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne's recently tabled bill proposes to amend the Investment Canada Act to require international entities to notify the government before closing deals in sectors that the government deems to have sensitive IP, data and technology. The act increases fines under the Investment Canada Act and would authorize the Minister of Industry, after consultation with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to impose interim conditions in respect of investments in order to prevent injury to national security that could arise during the review.

Policy Digest

The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy - From Exploration to Recycling: Powering the Green and Digital Economy for Canada and the World

Government of Canada
Backed by nearly $4 billion in Budget 2022, this strategy "sets out a course for Canada to become a global supplier of choice for critical minerals and the clean digital technologies they enable." The document emphasizes that "critical minerals are the building blocks for the green and digital economy" and that "there is no energy transition without critical minerals: no batteries, no electric cars, no wind turbines and no solar panels."

The strategy plans to prioritize initial investments in six minerals - cobalt, lithium, copper, graphite, nickel, and rare earth elements - as these “represent the greatest opportunity to fuel domestic manufacturing.” The strategy has garnered mixed reviews from some experts.

The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy addresses five core objectives:

  1. supporting economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation;

  2. promoting climate action and environmental protection;

  3. advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples;

  4. fostering diverse and inclusive workforces and communities; and

  5. enhancing global security and partnerships with allies.

The document summarizes recent policy initiatives (most introduced in Budgets 2021 and 2022) that work towards achieving these objectives, focusing on six areas of focus:

1. Driving research, innovation, and exploration;

-The federal government recognizes that investing in public geoscience is a key element to identifying and assessing critical mineral resources in Canada.
Enabling exploration via targeted financial incentives for critical mineral exploration activities in Canada will help reduce risks for proponents and help grow the sector. Supporting critical mineral innovations, particularly in areas that enhance sustainability and environmental performance, will unlock additional opportunities from the sector while protecting our environment and enhancing our competitiveness

2. Accelerating project development;

-The $1.5 billion critical mineral envelope under the SIF will support advanced manufacturing, processing, and recycling applications;
-An allocation of $40 million will support northern regulatory processes in reviewing and permitting critical mineral projects; and
-The CMCE will use its $21.5 million in extension funds to provide a broad range of programming support for the sector, in collaboration with implicated teams across the federal government.

3. Building sustainable infrastructure;

-Budget 2022 proposed $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for critical mineral supply chains, with a focus on priority deposits.
-Strategic infrastructure investments in green energy and transportation are required to unlock critical mineral regions, while also improving environmental performance and driving emissions reductions in existing operations through electrification – enabling competitive development of Canada’s critical mineral resources. Potential investments would compliment existing clean energy and transportation programming, and consider alignment with other strategic federal investment mechanisms.
-Existing federal programming, such as the CIB, NTCF and SREPS, can help complement the Strategy’s infrastructure investments.

4. Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples;

-Funding is available through the Indigenous Natural Resource Partnerships program to support Indigenous participation and early engagement in the Critical Minerals Strategy.
-The Government of Canada will continue to engage with Indigenous governments, organizations, and communities on the implementation of the Strategy. This will include hosting critical-minerals-related roundtables and workshops in prospective regions, and meeting with Indigenous partners to address their critical mineral priorities.
-Engagement on key initiatives, such as the implementation of UNDA, the development of a National Benefits Sharing Framework, and the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, will also inform the implementation of the Critical Minerals Strategy. The Government of Canada will work with Indigenous partners to revise this section of the Strategy based on feedback from these engagements.
-The Government of Canada will work with Indigenous communities to address systemic barriers and ensure that Indigenous peoples are active partners throughout the entire value chain of responsible critical mineral development in Canada.
-The Government of Canada will continue to honour treaty obligations, to uphold the duty to consult, with the aim of securing the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples, and to move beyond legal obligations by strengthening Indigenous participation and leadership in the sector.

5. Growing a diverse workforce and prosperous communities;

-Federal skills and training initiatives will help the minerals and metals sector grow its workforce and meet the increased demand for critical minerals.
-Diversity and inclusion will play a central part in these efforts, with the federal government continuing to support efforts to attract, train, and retain employees, including women, youth, Indigenous peoples, and other equity-seeking groups.
-The federal government will continue to seek out partnerships and collaboration opportunities with provinces and territories, Indigenous organizations, universities, and training institutions to increase mineral literacy.

6. Strengthening global leadership and security

-Canada is well positioned to be a leader in the responsible, inclusive, and sustainable production of critical minerals. The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy will align with the Government of Canada’s strategic objectives, including Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, and ensure that Canada remains competitive globally.
-Canada will continue to leverage its international partnerships to improve Responsible Business Conduct; ESG standards and best practices in critical-mineral-related activities, including enhancing the interoperability of systems and standards; recognition of ESG performances; and, collaboration on traceability initiatives including studies and 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



June 27 to 29, 2023, Toronto
The 6th International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP6) is coming to Toronto! Organized by IPPA, ICPP6 is hosted by the Toronto Metropolitan University's Faculty of Arts and Public Policy graduate studies programs and will take place at the University's premises in downtown Toronto from June 27 to 29, 2023, with a Pre-Conference on June 26. This conference includes a panel chaired by IPL Co-director Dan Breznitz called "Organizational Evolution in Innovation Policy." See here for submission instructions. The paper submission deadline is Jan. 31, 2023.


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