The Rise of Innovation Districts

Here’s a great article from the Brookings Institute on how to ignite innovation process within urban centres.

The Rise of Innovation Districts; A New Geography of Innovation in America presents the case for a reconfiguration in the way innovation can be stimulated at local levels.

Innovation districts have the unique potential to spur productive, inclusive and sustainable economic development. At a time of sluggish growth, they provide a strong foundation for the creation and expansion of firms and jobs by helping companies, entrepreneurs, universities, researchers and investors—across sectors and disciplines—co-invent and co-produce new discoveries for the market. At a time of rising social inequality, they offer the prospect of expanding employment and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations given that many districts are close to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. And, at a time of inefficient land use, extensive sprawl and continued environmental degradation, they present the potential for denser residential and employment patterns, the leveraging of mass transit, and the repopulation of urban cores.

A YouTube video of the authors of the report, Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz and Nonresident Senior Fellow Julie Wagner, can be found here.

The report offers five pieces of advice to practitioners:
  1. Build a collaborative leadership network, a collection of leaders from key institutions, firms and sectors who regularly and formally cooperate on the design, delivery, marketing and governance of the district.
  2. Set a vision for growth by providing actionable guidance for how an innovation district should grow and develop in the short-, medium- and long-term along economic, physical and social dimensions.
  3. Pursue talent and technology given that educated and skilled workers and sophisticated infrastructure and systems are the twin drivers of innovation.
  4. Promote inclusive growth by using the innovation district as a platform to regenerate adjoining distressed neighborhoods as well as creating educational, employment and other opportunities for low-income residents of the city.
  5. Enhance access to capital to support basic science and applied research; the commercialization of innovation; entrepreneurial start-ups and expansion (including business incubators and accelerators); urban residential, industrial and commercial real estate (including new collaborative spaces); place-based infrastructure (e.g., energy, utilities, broadband, and transportation); education and training facilities; and intermediaries to steward the innovation ecosystem.

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