Julie is president and founder of The Global Institute on Innovation Districts, where she is currently leading a Global Network of 45 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.” Her most recent research, “Why Governance Matters: An analysis on how innovation districts ‘Organize for Success’,” focuses on the imperative for innovation districts to organize for success, including effective governance. Julie is regularly requested to deliver keynote addresses in large, highly visible, events to elevate emerging global trends and demonstrate how the hyper-local geographies of districts are actively responding.
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.”
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.
Chad is director of research with The Global Institute, where he drives the organization’s analysis of the distinct research and development strengths of innovation districts and the role they play in broader innovation ecosystems. Over the past four years, Chad developed novel approaches for analyzing the R&D strengths of some of the most successful and competitive research institutions and companies in the world. Those approaches were ultimately combined to evaluate the R&D and commercialization strengths of 23 districts across 10 countries.
Chad is now shaping a new research agenda for a subset of highly ambitious districts, which will combine deep empirical research with a process for devising an impact agenda.
In a previous role, he was a senior 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 also 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 Washington, DC.
Laura is senior research associate for The Global Institute, where she spearheads interdisciplinary research activities focused on the spatial dimension of innovation districts. She most recently completed an intense two-year research initiative that analyzed 23 innovation districts and their place-based assets—seeking out new patterns and hidden advantages. Her global research on national policies and her evaluation of research strengths of a range of universities in Australia, Israel, and Europe, highlight her wide-ranging research interests and her capacity to transition effectively across various facets of the innovation ecosystem.
Previously, Laura made significant contributions to international research projects, collaborating with universities in the United States, Italy, Finland, and the United Kingdom. Her experience has equipped her with a deep understanding of European innovation policies. 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.
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 holds a Ph.D. in urban regeneration and economic development, along with a master’s degree in architecture. Prior to transitioning to a research career, she worked as an architectural designer in Malta. Laura speaks Italian, English, Spanish and she is actively engaged in learning sign language.
Claudia is network director with The Global Institute, where she is leading a Global Network of 45 innovation districts. The ambition of the Global Network is to creatively design and execute a highly-bespoke process that supports their development and evolution. These districts are at different stages of development, with different strengths and span 15 different countries in world regions including North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The Global Network program provides tailored strategic support and peer learning, informed by cutting-edge analysis on districts’ R&D strengths, unique specializations and combined assets that create innovative and inclusive places.
Previously, Claudia 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.
Igor is global network manager for The Global Institute, where his role is to shape and drive the success of the Global Network program, facilitating the program’s expansion and fostering a collaborative community of practitioners in 22 innovation districts across nine countries. He played a key role in the development of the interim Global Network and has worked closely with The Global Institute’s Steering Committee.
As the inaugural communications manager, Igor has been instrumental in shaping The Global Institute’s online presence. Leading the establishment of the institute’s first website, he played a pivotal role in promoting impactful research papers and spearheaded the launch and growth of its external communication channels, which now boasts several thousand subscribers.
Igor’s first experience working with innovation geographies was at The Brookings Institution, where he supported the work of Julie Wagner and the Bass Initiative for Innovation and Placemaking by participating in a global scan, where he conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of testbed programs and living labs. Prior to Brookings, Igor supervised a small team in a research institute in Switzerland, working on projects commissioned by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, on topics such as labor market participation, mobility habits, and media consumption.
Igor 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, Russian, and Spanish, and he is currently learning Hebrew.
Zenia is program manager for The Global Institute, where she takes on a multi-faceted role in driving the organization’s success. She plays a leadership role in the development of strategic initiatives in addition to overseeing a wide spectrum of responsibilities such as finance, budgeting, supporting The Global Institute’s Board initiatives, and fundraising. Zenia also supports the program development of the Global Network of Innovation Districts.
In her previous position as program manager at the National University of Singapore and the Genome Institute of Singapore, she managed a global network of researchers and developed strategic initiatives to elevate the status of the Human Genetics and Cardiovascular Program. Zenia boasts extensive experience in collaborating with senior stakeholders across diverse sectors, including research groups, universities, government bodies, corporations, funders, and regulatory agencies. Her skill set enables her to plan and execute projects and programs that enhance research and innovation, while creating conducive spaces for collaboration.
With a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, Zenia has a unique background that includes laboratory management, coordination of external collaborations, and the management of 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.
Federico is a brand and digital copywriter with a passion for technology and innovation.
As communications strategist, Federico is in charge of sharing The Global Institute’s important message with innovation leaders and practitioners all over the world.
Federico is leading The Global Institute’s digital transformation. His work on the website and social media channels will enable more people to access groundbreaking research on innovation districts, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Federico contributes to The Global Institute’s long-term communication strategy and how the organization’s insights and hands-on support help innovation leaders around the world tackle the biggest problems of the 21st century.
Federico combined his love for competitive marketing and tech, and founded Stack Against to help SaaS products stand out in a crowded marketplace and tell buyers what makes them unique to their competitors.
He speaks Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
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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