Three Leading Innovation District Examples

4 minute read

The Innovation Quarter's iconic smoke stacks and Bailey South signage.

The Global Institute on Innovation Districts established the Global Network of Innovation Districts to promote and facilitate collaboration among innovation districts. As part of the GIID’s Global Network, the Innovation Quarter has shared learnings and experiences that have guided others to overcome challenges. We’ve also gained knowledge, best practices and inspiration from peers within the network. Here are some healthtech-focused innovation districts that have been selected, alongside the Innovation Quarter, as part of the GIID’s Global Network.

1. Phoenix Bioscience Core

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Anchors: University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Arizona Board of Regents

A female scientist with dark hair and blue gloves examines a piece of equipment.

Phoenix Bioscience Core (PBC) centralizes researchers, educators and entrepreneurs in downtown Phoenix to advance translational bioscience discoveries. Founded in 2002 as the Bio Research Campus, this innovation district rebranded itself in early 2022 to reflect its growth and specialization in life science innovation, including but not limited to:

  • Precision medicine
  • Genomics
  • Molecular medicine
  • Cancer research
  • Healthcare analytics

The PBC innovation district is anchored by Arizona’s three public research universities—University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University—as well as their governing body and the City of Phoenix. Other significant players in the PBC bioscience ecosystem include the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), several of Phoenix’s major healthcare systems (amounting to 17 partners in research and medical education within 2 miles) and more than 20 life science companies.

PBC also integrates the Phoenix arts culture and greater community into its mission. Efforts include opportunities for artists to work on commissioned projects, present to scientists and the community, sell their work and work with researchers to share findings through new mediums. It encourages connections between the arts, research and recreational communities through workshops, programming and plenty of desert parks and dining establishments.

The Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building located in the Phoenix Bioscience Core's innovation district campus.
Photos from Phoenix Bioscience Core

2. Oslo Science City

Location: Oslo, Norway

Anchors: University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital

Oslo Science City is trailblazing by nature. The innovation district is the first within the country—making it prime for learning from innovation districts around the world and offering guidance for newly established ones—and aims to solidify Norway’s capital as knowledge-bearing, business-friendly and environmentally efficient. Anchored by several universities and prominent health and research organizations, the innovation district intends to intertwine knowledge institutions and business sector developments into urban development. This is seen through its partnerships among the University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital, the City of Oslo, Oslo Science Park, SINTEF (an independent research organization) and clusters of startups among larger corporations.

Oslo Science City aspires to make a name for itself by becoming the greenest innovation district in the world. This mission includes fueling a country-wide transition to renewable energy and being a net zero emission area through green buildings, vegetated corridors, sustainable agriculture, tree planting and efforts to improve energy efficiency. Since its 2019 establishment, Oslo Science City has become home to more than 300 startups and has set the world’s first autonomous, fully electric cargo ship to sail.

An aerial view of the Oslo Cancer Cluster, an anchor in Oslo Science City's innovation district.
Photos from Oslo Science City

3. Cleveland Health-tech Corridor

Two young children engaging with a digital exhibit at Cleveland Health-tech Corridor.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Anchors: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, VA Medical Center, Cleveland State University, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation

We’re all about big city benefits at a fraction of the cost of living—and the Cleveland Health-tech Corridor is right there with us. This innovation district seeks to attract healthtech and high-tech companies, biomedical development companies, early-stage companies and startups through its low cost of living, accessible infrastructure and resources. It’s anchored by world-renowned research and development institutions and brings researchers, entrepreneurs and students together in an environment conducive to innovation and growth.

Along with putting healthcare and technology companies close to research-intensive institutions, business incubators and other high-tech, innovation-driven companies, the Cleveland Health-tech Corridor’s mission largely includes inclusive economic growth. One of its key anchors, the Cleveland Foundation, relocated its $22 million headquarters from a downtown office to the innovation district to better integrate with the community and spur equitable growth and neighborhood development. It will provide community space and programming amongst sustainable, LEED-certified buildings.

Cleveland Health-tech Corridor's Think Box building.
Photos from Cleveland Health-tech Corridor

Innovation Districts and Models for the Future

Joining a network of innovation districts benefits both emerging and established innovation districts. As part of the GIID’s Global Network of Innovation Districts, the Innovation Quarter has the opportunity to improve our performance and collaborate with other organizations. We’re optimistic that the insights and learnings shared amongst the Global Network will continue to elevate the concept of innovation districts and spark changes in urban landscapes worldwide.

Three Steps to Activating and Growing an Innovation District

With a vision of economic development and civic impact, innovation districts are dynamic physical spaces where people from all walks of life can convene and grow. We’ve got three critical strategies for catalyzing that growth and maximizing potential in an innovation district.

Cover of eBook: Your Guide to Innovation District Growth