The New Geography of Innovation Today, innovation is taking place where people come together, not in isolated spaces.

The Rise of Innovation Districts

WHAT THEY ARE

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Boston’s 1000-acre innovation district along the South Boston waterfront. Photo credit: Boston Redevelopment Authority

Innovation districts constitute 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.

Given the vast distinctions in regional economies, the form and function of innovation districts differ markedly across the United States. Yet all innovation districts contain economic, physical, and networking assets. When these three assets combine with a supportive, risk-taking culture they create an innovation ecosystem—a synergistic relationship between people, firms and place (the physical geography of the district) that facilitates idea generation and accelerates commercialization.