Julie is president and founder of The Global Institute on Innovation Districts, where she is currently leading a Global Network of 23 innovation districts worldwide with the ambition to advance them—both individually and collectively—as leaders in this fast-evolving practice. To support the Global Network and other districts elsewhere, she is leading a team of researchers in the development of cutting-edge analysis on districts including their R&D strengths and specializations and their combined assets that create innovative and inclusive places. Julie is also playing a leading role in GIID Europe, a new not for profit organization designed to support district and other innovation geographies advancing in and across Europe. She is a prolific urban researcher and is co-author of the papers “The rise of innovation districts: A new geography of innovation in America” and “The evolution of innovation districts: The new geography of global innovation.”
Julie has over 25 years of experience advancing cities and urban areas. For over the past decade, she served as a non resident senior fellow at The Brooking Institution. She is also a visiting scholar for the Esade Business School’s Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics. Julie has co-authored several papers on the changing role of innovation and place, including “Innovation spaces: The new design of work” and “Advancing a new wave of economic competitiveness: The role of mayors in the rise of innovation districts.”
Living in Europe, she continues to help advance the competitiveness of cities and regions globally, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Milan, Silicon Valley, Sheffield, Sydney, and Turin. Julie is supporting the development of innovation districts in cities across Israel in her capacity as strategic advisor to Israel’s National Economic Council.
A trained city planner, Julie served as a deputy planning director for the District of Columbia, where she developed the city’s long-range plan. She earned a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Northeastern University. Julie has received several planning awards from MIT and the American Planning Association for her work.
Deputy Director of Research, Global Institute on Innovation Districts
Chad is deputy director of research with The Global Institute. In a previous role, he was research associate and senior project manager at The Brookings Institution. In that position, he drove the development of research and policy projects on economic competitiveness, labor market dynamics, and the changing geography of jobs in cities. He is the founder and principal of Denizens, a consulting firm that provides research and advice on economic policy issues.
Chad has extensive experience helping governments, civic groups, and research organizations design policies and programs that increase economic competitiveness and opportunity. During his 10 years at The Brookings Institution, he advised leaders in dozens of cities and metropolitan regions. From 2015 to 2018, he led a research initiative at Brookings focused on improving labor market opportunity and access that resulted in impactful policy projects and reports in Riverside, Calif., Indianapolis, Ind., New Orleans, La., Detroit, Mich., and the state of Michigan. He worked with leaders in Kansas City, Mo., Louisville, Ky., and Newark, N.J., to develop strategies to improve the competitiveness of local advanced industries. Chad has also published numerous reports on economic dynamics and trends, including a 2019 Brookings report exploring the increasing density and proximity of jobs in the advanced industries that underpin innovation districts, as well as a series of quarterly and annual reports tracking the economic performance of U.S. cities.
Chad holds dual bachelor’s degrees, in economics and urban planning and design, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is currently based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Research Associate, Global Institute on Innovation Districts
Laura is research associate for The Global Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in urban regeneration and economic development, and her research interests focus on the quality of life in cities and metro areas in the innovation economy.
Laura conducted deep research on emerging innovation districts as a graduate student in Boston. Her dissertation analyzed the potential of innovation districts in driving sustainable and inclusive outcomes, in enabling communities to achieve their economic potential, and in creating social justice and equality of opportunity over the long term.
Laura has contributed to international research projects, working with universities in the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom. She has acquired a thorough knowledge of innovation districts globally, focusing especially on the life cycle and socio-economic impact of innovation-oriented urban policies implemented in Boston and San Diego. She comes to The Global Institute with a strong understanding of European policies on innovation. Since 2016, Laura has investigated how Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) aim to boost regional innovation, contributing to growth and prosperity by helping enable regions to focus on their strengths and their own competitive advantages.
For The Global Institute, Laura has been busy researching national policies globally and their impact on innovation districts. She has also evaluated the research strengths of a range of universities in Australia, Israel, and Europe. In the future, she will be playing a pivotal role in the analysis of innovation districts globally—to help better define and measure their advancement.
Claudia is network manager with The Global Institute, where she is responsible for the development and implementation of its global network of innovation districts. Previously, she worked at Oxfam where she designed and managed a global network of more than 1,000 practitioners to catalyze positive impact of Oxfam’s economic development programs on women and other marginalised groups. Claudia also worked at CARE, implementing a global knowledge sharing system and leading strategic initiatives. In this capacity, she developed a US$1 million Innovation Fund to scale specific innovations and led the implementation of an organizational performance system aimed to improve program effectiveness in Latin America. She also worked at MIT’s Community Innovators Lab, developing innovative methods for promoting learning, reflection and innovation within groups.
Claudia is a trained city planner, with experience working for local and national government agencies, international finance institutions, academia, and international non-profit organizations. She has a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Claudia has received awards from MIT, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and The SEEP Network for her work.
Communications and Project Manager, Global Institute on Innovation Districts
Igor is communications and project manager for The Global Institute, where he drives and supports the implementation of cross-team projects. Igor played a key role in the early stages of development of the interim Global Network and has worked closely with The Global Institute’s Steering Committee. Igor is passionate about digital technologies, which are at the heart of his day-to-day job at The Global Institute.
He first started working with innovation geographies at The Brookings Institution, where he supported the work of Julie Wagner and the Bass Initiative for Innovation and Placemaking. Prior to Brookings, Igor supervised a small team in a research institute in Switzerland, mainly working on projects commissioned by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office.
He holds a degree in communication sciences from the University of Lugano and is certified by the Swiss branch of the International Project Management Association. Igor speaks English, Italian and Russian.
Zenia is program manager for The Global Institute, where she works on developing strategic initiatives and supports the program development of the Global Network of Innovation Districts. Previously, Zenia was program manager at the National University of Singapore and the Genome Institute of Singapore, where she managed a global network of researchers and developed strategic initiatives to elevate the status of the Human Genetics and Cardiovascular Program.
Zenia has extensive experience working with senior stakeholders in research groups, universities, governments, companies, funders and regulators to build and implement projects and programs that enhance research and innovation, as well as to develop spaces that are conducive for collaboration.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and has managed a laboratory, in addition to coordinating external collaborations and managing large budgets and resources. Zenia is passionate about connecting with people, believes in creating a work culture that promotes personal development, and is dedicated to building collaborative spaces that promote innovation and growth. She speaks English and Mandarin.
Utkarsh researches the agglomeration of R&D activities in innovation districts and urban regions for The Global Institute. He is an experienced public policy researcher, with a focus on the nexus between urban development and climate change.
Prior to joining The Global Institute, Utkarsh was associated with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) in New Delhi, where he worked with Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia on issues of urbanization and sustainable development in India.
Utkarsh is also an associate fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi, and a founding-member at GreenEarthAnalytics GmbH in Germany. He has published studies on urban service delivery, municipal finance, climate change and energy transition, and on climate finance, which have been cited in related literature and referenced in the media.
Utkarsh has master’s degrees in economics and energy regulation from Madras School of Economics (Chennai), and Technical University Berlin, respectively. He is a 2022-23 Climate Fellow at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs.
Juel is a geospatial researcher with The Global Institute. She is a geospatial data expert with over 15 years of experience managing complex geospatial datasets. She leads the spatial data compilation, quality review and analysis processes.
Juel holds a PhD in geoinformatics. Her thesis focused on developing a method for small island states to evaluate the level of spatio-temporal accessibility to public health care services towards improving service availability and utilization, something often overlooked due to their relatively small size.
For the past five years Juel has worked as a consultant in the Caribbean region. As GIS consultant she has worked across several fields including health, education, environmental conservation, crime and urban planning. Juel was recognized as an Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Young Professional in 2019. She has played an active role in the award winning Geospatial Information Research and Innovation (GIRI) Group since its inception.
Most recently, Juel has worked within public health to improve and promote the use of geospatial data and analysis in the fight against COVID-19 and is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
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