Research study on Innovation Districts, PlusValue & GIID

Research study on Innovation Districts, a joint research from PlusValue & The Global Institute for Innovation Districts (GIID)

In January, this year, PlusValue formed a partnership with The Global Institute on Innovation Districts (GIID) to contribute to an in-depth empirical research study aimed at granularly identifying what elements defines an innovation district and makes it a success.

The research study moves from Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz’s pioneering studies on innovation districts (ID), arguing that innovation districts can play a powerful role in advancing city and regional prosperity through their ability to translate research into marketable services and products. Innovation Districts are walkable geographic areas where anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with academia, laboratories, start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators to increase their competitive potential. Specifically, Innovation districts compete on a combination of 3 main assets:  Economic, Physical, Relational/ Social Network.

The innovation districts investigated are Be’er Sheva Innovation District (Be’er Sheva, Isreal), Medellín Innovation District (Medellín, Colombia), Pittsburgh Innovation District  (Pittsburgh, US), Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus  (Buffalo, US),  Cortex Innovation District (St. Louis, US),  Wake Forest Innovation Quarter (Winston-Salem, US), Advancved Manufacturing Innovation District (Sheffiled, the UK), Zuidas Knowledge District (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Melbourne Innovation District (Melbourne, Australia). These districts will be analysed looking at their evolution along key dimensions:

  • Competitive advantage: how a district differentiate itself from other districts
  • Critical mass: density of economic actors, talents, and technologies to effectively translate research into products, processes, and services for the market
  • Convergence: the processes and technologies allowing multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration in the ID and beyond, accelerating innovation
  • Quality of place: defined for example looking at the presence of green areas or amenities in place, as well as at the role of space in supporting clustering and convergence processes
  • Inclusion: emerging from the number of formal and informal social networks and links created among and across the IDs to increase skills and quality of life of their communities.

The research methodology that follows the design phase, consists of desk research collecting secondary information through literature review including web-sources and grey literature and with the support of the IDs,  as well as of primary research, with districts actively engaged in sharing data with GIID research team both in writing and through in-deep interviews. Finally, the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data will be carried out after harmonising the different data-sets.

The final results of the research will be released via a set of publications and toolkits by the Global Institute on Innovation Districts and will eventually determine:

  • Characteristics and minimum thresholds for a successful ID
  • Benchmarks or collective measures that help determine IDs’ level of maturity
  • Success factors and reasons why start-ups and mature companies settle and remain within IDs
  • How knowledge and technology can be efficiently transferred within an ID
  • Successful models of governance for IDs
  • Place-based dimensions and strategies
  • How ID’s high-growth turns into inclusive growth

This study aims on the one hand at defining a scientific framework for the evaluation of Innovation Districts, which today are spreading across the globe, and on the other hand, it demonstrates the noticeable stimulus that the presence of an Innovation District represents for a territory either from an economic, scientific and community point of view.

Having the chance to work with this amazing team of international researchers and help better understanding and disseminating the amazing work that Innovation Districts are carrying-out globally is a tremendous opportunity for PlusValue, which will greatly contribute to our mission of advancing inclusive innovation in Europe and beyond” Fiorenza Lipparini, PlusValue, Co-founder and Director of Research

 “We are very excited by this partnership as it brings together our complementary expertise, assets and networks to drive the innovation agenda within cities to a new frontier” Filippo Addarii, PlusValue, Co-founder CEO

The Global Institute on Innovation Districts- The Global Institute on Innovation Districts is a New York-based non-profit organization, established by a group of influential leaders active in the growth and advancement of innovation districts. It provides empirically grounded research and represents a platform where to share ideas and strategies in the field.

The research team- At the head of the research team is Julie Wagner, President of GIID and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, a leading think-tank in metropolitan policy, global economy, and economic development. Other members of the team are Victoria Galàn- Muros, GIID senior researcher and co-founder of the Innovative Futures Institute, Chad Shearer, senior researcher with GIID and senior project manager at The Brookings Institution, Laura Biancuzzo, research associate at GIID, Fiorenza Lipparini, Filippo Addarii, Marco Sebastianelli, and Valeria Soliano.

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