A common question asked by aspiring and established districts is, “why should we think about organizing differently?” This is often quickly followed by, “how should we organize so we are effective and impactful?” Research to be released on June 20, 2023 by The Global Institute on Innovation Districts, highlights that these are the right questions that innovation districts should be asking themselves. The research builds on several years of dedicated research, including in-depth analysis of 10 global models of governance that span innovation districts and other place-based geographies.
Why Governance Matters: An analysis on how innovation districts “Organize for Success”, is written by Julie Wagner, Founder of The Global Institute. She concludes: “The ability for innovation districts to organize effectively can be the deciding factor in why one district fails while another succeeds and powerfully evolves. Unless district leaders design effective models to lead and govern, they are destined to become stuck in organizational, if not political, gridlock. This paper is a wake-up call for early and emerging districts worldwide.”
Why Governance Matters
The research explains that governance is vital if districts are to realize fully their potential, including leveraging the strengths of multiple district actors, including institutions, companies, and other organizations. Working across actors and sectors can be difficult, which helps explain why many places are devising a governance structure to:
- Develop a shared R&D agenda that leverages the individual and combined strengths of district and other actors
- Devise strategies to increase joint partnerships with industry and facilitate opportunities to commercialize
- Design and implement strategies to attract, retain, and grow talent
- Conceive a plan on how to share expensive innovation infrastructure
- Design a connected and interlinked strategy on how to support startups and scaleups
- Plan and finance the transformation of the physical landscape, including building new or redeveloping old buildings, moving or tunnelling infrastructure, and upgrading parks
- Strengthen equity and inclusion through systemic or cross-actor efforts
- Cultivate and support the growth of new social networks and relationships, reinforcing the district’s ecosystem
Julie Wagner explains: “Coordinating these activities across actors, sectors, and landowners is not an easy task. In fact, figuring out how to leverage a variety of existing assets and actors while designing well-sequenced investments could be compared to playing a game of three-dimensional chess.”
How to Achieve Effective Governance
Emerging districts are most eager to learn how to design effective governance structures, building off the deep experience and lessons of others. The research synthesizes these lessons and outlines seven factors that lead to effective governance.
The paper delves deeper into governance and how districts have designed several different models of governance. One such model is the mission-driven formal entity (e.g., not for profits, a limited company by guarantee) that is designed with the core mandate of supporting, if not enabling, the growth and development of the district.
A call to action – helping districts move forward
The research concludes by outlining three steps for districts to take to improve their governance and decision-making.
Find out more:
- Download: Why Governance Matters: An analysis on how innovation districts “Organize for Success” in English.
- For general inquiries about The Global Institute, please contact us at info[at]giid[dot]org.
- For questions about this research, please contact: Julie Wagner, President, The Global Institute on Innovation Districts at jwagner[at]giid[dot]org.