New Research-Driven, Network-Based Institute Will Support the Growth and Impact of Innovation Districts around the World

The Global Institute on Innovation Districts (“The GlobalInstitute”) today announced its formal launch with its inaugural research briefentitled “The Evolution of Innovation Districts: The New Geography of GlobalInnovation.”

Aninnovation district is a geographic area where institutions and companiescluster and connect with intermediaries, small firms, start-ups, and others.Physically compact, transit- and broadband-accessible, they offer mixed-usehousing, office and retail.

The launch follows four years of research and on-the-ground practice bythe authors of The Brookings Institution’s “Rise of Innovation Districts” 2014research, Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz, together with seasoned industrypractitioner Thomas Osha, to offer new insights on how successful innovationdistricts are organizing themselves to forge ahead and to establish a formalnetwork-based organization to support the growth and impact of innovationdistricts around the world. The paper can be accessed at

“This paper is released at a critical moment in time given thatentrepreneurial dynamism is slowing, national and state investments in citiesin many countries are contracting, divisions by income and wealth areexpanding, and efforts to mitigate climate change face political pushback,”shared Julie Wagner, President of The Global Institute. 

Today, byconservative estimates, there are more than 100 innovation districts emergingaround the world. In the United States alone, roughly twenty districts have reacheda high level of sophistication, concentrating in close proximity a mix ofresearch institutions, mature companies, start-ups and scale-ups, co-workingspaces, and supportive intermediaries. Similar districts can now be found inthe U.K., Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands—each with a unique set ofspecializations that commonly draw on its region’s historic strengths andadvantages. At the same time, new districts are advancing quickly in cities inGermany, Italy, and France with strong public and private involvement andsupport. Other countries such as Finland, Poland, and Ireland are capturingthis moment and are places to watch. Similarly, cities in Australia, LatinAmerica, the Middle East, and Asia are observing the rise of innovationdistricts, building off specific innovation and research capacities.

The research brief released today offers insights on how successful innovation districts arereaching their full potential through the deployment of asset-based strategiesthat leverage a district’s economic, physical, and social networking assets.Rather than work in silos, this paper demonstrates how holistic, integratedstrategies are creating wonderfully mixed, complex, and “buzzing”districts. 

“There is a strong desire on the part of innovation districts leaders,university anchors, municipal and regional governments, and other innovationactors to better understand the drivers, programs, and pathways around whichthey can grow their districts and positively impact their communities,” saidThomas Osha, Global Institute board chair and senior vice president, innovationand economic development for Wexford Science & Technology, LLC.

The paperalso stresses how successful districts rely on organizational strategies andstructures, particularly a strong governance model and coordinated finance. Andfinally, given rising economic inequalities in many countries, innovationdistricts are contending with the challenge of linking innovation andinclusion, which is leading to the development of inclusion and socialinnovation strategies to guide their growth.

“Innovationdistricts can be a key driver of inclusive outcomes for cities as a whole andresidents living in surrounding neighborhoods,” said Bruce Katz, GlobalInstitute board member and founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab atDrexel University. “This is critical given the intense juxtaposition ofwealth and poverty, growing concerns with gentrification and the close physicalproximity between anchor institutions and economically disadvantagedcommunities.”

About The GlobalInstitute

The Global Institute was recently established in response togrowing demand to support innovation districts globally. It is designed to be apractitioner-led and empirically grounded not for profit organization tostrategically advance innovation districts worldwide. The objectives of the organization are to:

  • Create a global network of innovation districts
  • Identify and monitor the growth of innovation districts across global regions
  • Capture and dissect their main challenges and highlight their successes
  • Provide detailed evidence-based strategies and data to accelerate their work
  • Foster collective engagement on top priorities—such as access to capital or IPprotections—creating norms around growth, finance, and governance
  • Support communication and shared learning across districts

The Global Institute is establishing a Steering Committeecharged with shaping the overall agenda of the Institute and ensuring research,network, and other activities meaningfully advance the paradigm and practice ofinnovation districts.  The SteeringCommittee willinclude up to fifteen innovation districts that have demonstrated realleadership in the field together with researchers, practitioners and policymakers to help shape the broader research and impact agenda.

The Global Institute is currently supported by two Founding Partners: Lendlease, a globalproperty and infrastructure group and TheNowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University. 

About The Global Institute’s Steering Committee

In addition to Julie Wagner, Bruce Katz and Thomas Osha, initial membersof the GIID Steering Committee includes both US and international innovationdistricts: Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in Buffalo, NY; CortexInnovation Community in St. Louis, MO; PittsburghInnovation District, Pittsburgh, PA; WakeForest Innovation Quarter inWinston-Salem, NC; Amsterdam Innovation District Zuidas, Amsterdam, TheNetherlands; and the Melbourne Innovation District (City North), in Melbourne, Australia. In addition, academic andindustry participants  include MiquelBarceló, director of master in business innovation, Polytechnic University ofCatalonia; Carrie Kolasky, vice president for development, The AtlanticCouncil; and Pamela Puchalski, executive director, The American Assembly atColumbia University together with representatives from the Founding Partners,Lendlease, and The Nowak Metro Finance Lab.

About the Founding Partners

Lendlease is a leadinginternational property and infrastructure group, with approximately 13,000employees across operations in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas.Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, the Company aims to create places thatleave a positive legacy with a focus on health and safety, and innovation andsustainability with projects such as the Athletes’ Village in London, SydneyOpera House, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and critical infrastructure,stadiums, entertainment facilities and residential communities. 

The Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University was founded in 2018 to help cities identify and implement innovativestrategies to leverage public assets and fund public infrastructure for publicbenefit, with a focus on supporting inclusive and equitable growth.

To Contact The Global Institute on Innovation Districts

Please contact The Global Institute at | Twitter @giid_org

To answer questions,please contact Igor Ozeran, ProjectManager [email protected]

Source: The Global Institute on Innovation Districts Press Release