Innovation Districts: the New Geography of Innovation

21 gennaio 2014
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What’s going on in Boston’s Innovation District is special. Special, but not unique. In just a few years, a run-down part of the city has become a destination for exciting new companies. 2011-07-14_DSC_0668That sort of turnaround doesn’t happen easily, and it certainly doesn’t happen everywhere. But other cities in the  US are enjoying similar urban revivals by creating innovation districts of their own. This broader trend is brought to the international attention by Bruce Katz, director of the US Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. Katz argues that the recent recession highlighted weaknesses of traditional business models and underscored the need for innovative companies in technology and life sciences to drive a new economy. In theory, he said, leaders in Washington should recognize this and set national policy accordingly. The way he sees it, the responsibility to innovate has fallen on state and municipal governments, and the private sector. And in several places — including Boston — public and private leaders are rising to the challenge. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Brooklyn and even Detroit made Katz’s list of promising innovation hubs. The last three, like Boston, have targeted neglected areas along waterfronts for redevelopment. One thing all these places have in common is a blend of anchor institutions and ambitious startups. They also require some basic building blocks: World-class universities help, and so does a good public transit system. Katz’s advice to other cities is to learn from these examples but to be realistic about their local assets. It’s hard, after all, to match what we’ve got here. Have a look at this video.


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