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Innovation Districts: The New Urban Geography

The idea of Innovation Districts is making the rounds nationally. The Brookings Institute recently released a report designed to shape the conversation on this “new geography of innovation”. The changing terrain, if you are a believer, is profound. The landscape of innovation has been perceived as limited to rarified places like Silicon Valley,whereit’s inwardly designed to self-contain creativity, leisure and basic needs (foosball and dry cleaning included). This new landscape of innovation holds promise of flourishing beyond the edges of a corporate campus. As the report highlights, “the trend is to nurture living, breathing communities rather than sterile compounds of research silos.” Though amorphous and tempting to see as already here, there’s more behind the concept than cutting a ribbon on something that might be happening and declaring it an Innovation District.

Cityness. Under this new thinking, urban centers may have regained the upper hand over suburban office parks. The Brookings Report calls cities “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.” But there is more behind the concept than some Star Trek Transporter moving the hottest tech company from its suburban oasis to Gotham’s dystopian center. Cities win because the assets in demand to make these districts succeed are abundant– “complexity, density, diversity of people and cul­tures, and a layering of the old and the new.” Messy is now the primordial ooze from which innovation emerges.

– See more at: http://baltimore.citybizlist.com/article/201485/innovation-districts-the-new-urban-geography#sthash.2Jx5fInK.dpuf


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