For the past 50 years, it has been assumed that tech innovation requires a Silicon Valley home base, but this is rapidly changing. In key urban city centers across the Unites States, we are seeing the emergence of “innovation districts” – a model that leverages local resources and talent to transform underserved areas. These innovation districts cluster and connect high-growth, high-promise start-ups, and anchor corporate and public institutions and local non-profit organizations. Furthermore, these compact, accessible, amenity-rich enclaves feature a dynamic mash-up of business incubators, accelerators and co-shared office spaces via mixed-use housing, office and retail formats. The resulting ecosystem creates a spirit of collaboration and opportunities for sharing ideas, mutual investment and open source innovation. These districts are walk-able, bike-able, and connected by mass transit and technology.
In key urban city centers across the Unites States, we are seeing the emergence of “innovation districts” – a model that leverages local resources and talent to transform underserved areas.
Now, we have a unique opportunity to add the city of Miami and the historic Park West/Overtown neighborhood to the prestigious list of destinations where these coveted innovation districts are beginning to take shape. Across the globe, different types of innovation districts are emerging. For example, well-known cities like Barcelona, Berlin, London, Medellin, Montreal, Seoul, Stockholm and Toronto are gaining prestige and recognition for their evolving districts. In the United States, districts are emerging near anchor institutions in the downtowns and midtowns of cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cambridge, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and San Diego. In cities like Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Portland, Providence, San Francisco and Seattle, innovation districts are developing where underutilized areas are being activated. Yet another group of innovation districts is growing in traditional urban science parks like Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham.
Innovation districts are a key part of the powerful new wave of local economic development. Across the US, they are growing higher-paying and more accessible jobs at a time of rising poverty and social inequality. Many are close to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, offering expanded employment and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations.
They also are strong engines for sustainable development since they embrace residential and employment density via the strategic use of transit, historic buildings, traditional street grids, and existing infrastructure.
They help cities raise revenues through increased economic activity, rising housing values and increased demand for goods and services. Increased revenues can then be used to make necessary investments in infrastructure, public safety, affordable housing, local schools, and other necessary services.
The rise of innovation districts across the US and the globe is aligned with the current disruptive dynamics such as crowd-sourced, entrepreneurial, and networked activity that create wealth creation. They also intensify the essence of cities, as they bring together highly talented, driven people in what urban historian Sir Peter Hall calls a “dynamic process of innovation, imitation, and improvement.” The Miami Innovation District represents the future of Park West/Overtown and the city of Miami and a powerful engine to creating a stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive, thriving local economy.