Cities and regions around the world are jockeying to create world-class innovation districts. Their energy and enthusiasm are palpable. They see the innovation model as an avenue for districts to generate economic growth, building off the R&D strengths of their local universities, medical centers, and adjacent companies.
However, most fail to realize that the long-term success of innovation districts hinges on their ability to organize themselves. This includes the need to develop some form of governance. Unless district leaders design effective models to lead and govern, they are likely to become stuck in organizational, if not political, gridlock.
This insight has led The Global Institute to focus both its research and its work with districts on identifying and sharing insights around effective governance. We are publishing three Research Briefs, written by Julie Wagner, on our findings.
June 20th 2023
Launch of Research Brief 1 : Why Governance Matters: An analysis on how innovation districts “Organize for Success”, by Julie Wagner.
On June 20th 2023, The Global Institute publishes Research Brief 1 – on the importance of creating effective governance and finance to develop innovation districts. Why Governance Matters: An analysis on how innovation districts “Organize for Success” is written by Julie Wagner, Founder and President of The Global Institute.
This first research brief provides detailed insights on why and how different districts are organizing themselves, including the design of some form of governance structure. To a reader or observer, governance might appear to be a new form of bureaucracy when, in fact, it is proving to be the essential organizational tissue that allows districts to respond nimbly and adapt, if not excel.
This brief provides an overview for what governance is, and why complex, evolving districts demand this type of design. An important contribution to the field, this paper illustrates types of governance models and synthesizes the key factors that have enabled other districts to design highly individualized and successful governance.
Research Briefs 2 & 3
By Julie Wagner
A second research brief will be released later in 2023, which focuses on how the harnessing of land is an essential strategy for place-based innovation geographies. This brief, The Centrality of Land: How innovation districts leverage land for effective governance, argues that most districts are glossing over one of their most treasured and useful assets. The paper then illustrates how certain districts are leveraging land to strengthen local R&D ecosystems, generate crucial revenue, and create walkable, accessible places for residents and researchers.
In the third research brief, the topic delves into the importance of districts designing their own models and culture for governing, rather than subscribing to a “copy-paste” approach. The paper, Unique Governance Models: Why Innovation Districts Design Bespoke Models of Governance, examines three models of district governance. In doing so, this paper illustrates how distinctions in vision, leadership style, and the challenges they face, have influenced how district leaders developed ways to govern.