The geography of innovation is shifting and a new model for innovative growth is emerging. In contrast to suburban corridors of isolated corporate campuses, innovation districts combine research institutions, innovative firms and business incubators with the benefits of urban living. These districts have the unique potential to spur productive, sustainable, and inclusive economic development.
On June 9, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings released “The Rise of Innovation Districts,’ a new report analyzing this trend. The authors of the paper, Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz and Nonresident Senior Fellow Julie Wagner, were joined by leaders from emerging innovation districts across the country to discuss this shift and provide guidance to U.S. metro areas on ways to harness its potential.
Innovation districts constitute the ultimate mash up of entrepreneurs and educational institutions, start-ups and schools, mixed-use development and medical innovations, bike-sharing and bankable investments’”all connected by transit, powered by clean energy, wired for digital technology, and fueled by caffeine.
Given the vast distinctions in regional economies, the form and function of innovation districts differ markedly across the United States. Yet all innovation districts contain economic, physical, and networking assets. When these three assets combine with a supportive, risk-taking culture they create an innovation ecosystem’”a synergistic relationship between people, firms and place (the physical geography of the district) that facilitates idea generation and accelerates commercialization.