Headshot of Dan Breznitz
Innovation, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School

Dan Breznitz wins inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy

Dan Breznitz has won the inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy for his book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World. The award was announced by the Writers’ Trust of Canada on November 23, 2021.

Sponsored by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie, the Balsillie Prize is awarded annually for a nonfiction book that advances and influences policy debates on a wide range of social, political, economic, or cultural topics relevant to Canadians. Breznitz’s book is being recognized for its “excellence in quality of thought and style and for advancing public discourse and bringing new ideas to Canadian policymakers.” The prize recipient receives $60,000.

Breznitz is a leading expert on rapid-innovation-based industries and their globalization. He is a University Professor, serves as the Munk Chair of Innovation Studies and co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab; and co-directs the program on Innovation, Equity and Future of Prosperity as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. His other published books include Innovation and the State, Run of the Red Queen, and The Third Globalization.

In Innovation in Real Places, Breznitz challenges dominant ideas about the essential role of high-tech industries in economic growth, calling on cities to instead find where their advantages actually lie in relation to the global production process. “Dan Breznitz deftly argues that Canadians often confuse ‘innovation’ with ‘invention.’ His research demonstrates that by focusing on the invention side — creating the next new thing — Canadian policy and industry largely miss the major benefits of the innovation train,” wrote the Balsillie Prize jury.

“Breznitz offers advice for leaders at all levels: you don’t have to invent it; you do, however, have to bring it to market in a better way.”

The Financial Times named Innovation in Real Places one of the best Summer books of 2021. It was also longlisted for the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2021.

Other finalists for the Balsillie Prize included former federal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, Globe & Mail health reporter/columnist André Picard, and CBC Radio One British Columbia’s Gregor Craigie.