Wake Forest Innovation Quarter has been selected as an inaugural member of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts — one of six chosen to serve on its initial steering committee.

The downtown Winston-Salem research park joins districts based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Melbourne, Australia, New York, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The impetus for the nonprofit global institute came from research conducted by Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz, authors of The Brookings Institution’s “Rise of Innovation Districts” 2014 research, and research park expert Thomas Osha.

A research brief has been posted at https://www.giid.org/the-evolution-of-innovation-districts-download/.

The overarching goal is “offering new insights on how successful innovation districts are organizing themselves to forge ahead and to establish a formal network-based organization to support the growth and impact of innovation districts around the world.”

Wake Forest Innovation Quarter was selected in part because of its “unique governance model, its partnership with local and state government entities and its work with developers, like Wexford Science + Technology, in leveraging historic (rehabilitation) tax credits to bring about adaptive reuse of historic structures.”

Counting the $40 million Bailey Power Plant renovation, the Link Apartments mixed-use project, $106 million Wake Forest BioTech Place, $75 million Inmar Inc. headquarters, and $60 million Plant 64 apartment complex, there has been more than $300 million in capital investment spent on innovation quarter projects.

“This (selection) puts us in great company and clearly validates the esteem that the innovation quarter-is held outside of our area,” Mayor Allen Joines said.

Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the innovation quarter, said “we are seeing our approach of mixed-use, knowledge-based economic development to be a dynamic force in cities around the country and even the world.”

The research park has ranked by Preservation NC as the largest historic redevelopment project of its kind in the state, as well as among the largest involving major innovation districts in the country.

“The innovation quarter has become a leader around smart and strategic governance,” said Katz, a Global Institute board member and founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University.

In addition to Katz, Wagner and Osha, the steering committee will include representatives from up to 15 innovation districts, along with researchers, practitioners and policy makers.


Source: Winston-Salem Journal by Richard Craver | June 7, 2019