The Global Institute on Innovation Districts (GIID) formally launched its Global Network of Innovation Districts in March 2022. Its purpose is to facilitate collaboration among established and emerging innovation districts so they can learn and grow. This network and many other initiatives point to an innovative, inclusive and sustainable future for innovation districts worldwide.
GIID formed its Global Network in response to a need for global district leaders to be able to connect, share, inspire and be inspired. The Global Network helps district leaders to learn more about their districts’ strengths and opportunities and to share what has accelerated or hindered their work. The network is driving robust empirical research, developing tailored, peer-to-peer learning sessions across districts and advancing the practice of innovation districts through detailed tactics, strategies and best practices. A top priority for the Global Network is to strengthen the resilience of innovation districts, given their important role as engines of economic growth in their local and national economies, cultivating and growing unique cluster strengths that help reinforce a region’s competitive advantages in more inclusive and environmentally sustainable ways.
The Global Institute also focuses on amassing exceptional data from globally renowned sources to understand the strengths of each innovation district within the Global Network. The insights identify the most commercially relevant research and development efforts and significant partners in translational research, helping innovation districts to decide how to strategically expand collaborative innovation.
The network is driving robust empirical research, developing tailored, peer-to-peer learning sessions across districts and advancing the practice of innovation districts through detailed tactics, strategies and best practices.
A Landscape Fit for The Global Network
The Global Network’s formation could not have been more timely: Long-term structural challenges resulting from the pandemic include waning competitiveness, underinvestment in education and skills and the hyper-concentrated growth of tech hubs in just a few global cities. For local and regional economies to flourish again, global leaders must push for new forms of economic development to overcome these challenges and lean into new social solutions.
Trends signal that there has been, and will continue to be, growing investment in multi-disciplinary research, start-ups and research and development addressing specific challenges, such as infectious diseases. The Global Network enables connections that can empower innovation districts to demonstrate what’s needed to earn those investments: organized leadership, hard assets and the capabilities to drive transformative and inclusive growth.
Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter Makes the Cut
In 2019, Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter was one of nine innovation districts selected to be part of GIID’s Steering Committee to shape the organization’s overall mission. Now, the Steering Committee has joined other innovation districts as part of the Global Network working to spearhead advancements of the innovation district model. There are a total of 23 innovation districts participating in the Global Network located throughout North America, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia.
The Innovation Quarter was a natural fit, particularly given its 2021 recognition as a “Best Practice for Creating Integrated Spaces.” The GIID recognizes the Innovation Quarter’s physical transformation through highly mixed, integrated spaces, including redeveloping Bailey Power Plant from a disused, coal-powered, industrial asset into a burgeoning locale of innovation that serves as the district’s center of gravity.
From an outmoded manufacturing locale into a 21st-century knowledge- and tech-intensive district, the Innovation Quarter has been recognized as a pioneer in the world of innovation districts.
From an outmoded manufacturing locale into a 21st-century knowledge- and tech-intensive district, the Innovation Quarter has been recognized as a pioneer in the world of innovation districts. The GIID values the Innovation Quarter’s ability to transform its physical landscape to match changing markets and painstakingly execute district-wide visions down to building entrance designs. It considers the Innovation Quarter’s form of governance unique in that it highlights how governance must match its district’s and its leaders’ ambition.
Innovation Quarter’s Role in The Global Network: Give, Take, Innovate
Leaders from the Innovation Quarter have already been called upon in global meetings and forums to share their reflective remarks and powerfully educate others. The Innovation Quarter also showcases best practices for how smaller, post-industrial U.S. regions can move up the value chain of competitiveness by adopting an innovation district strategy. Ultimately, the Innovation Quarter will continue to exemplify that the power of innovation districts lies in their distinctiveness and diversity.
The Innovation Quarter will also continue its growth and development by learning from districts worldwide. Members of The Global Network will collaborate to both provide and receive guidance on best practices in district operations, including space planning, space design, workforce development, placemaking and more. They will use each other to motivate change within their own districts—from driving collaboration to improving the human condition overall.