Innovation Quarter News

Innovation Quarter selected to join newly formed Global Institute on Innovation Districts


Wake Forest Innovation Quarter announced today its selection as an inaugural member of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts (“the Global Institute”), chosen as one of six districts from around the world that will comprise the organization’s initial steering committee.

The launch of the Global Institute follows five years of research and on-the-ground practice by the authors of The Brookings Institution’s “Rise of Innovation Districts” 2014 research, Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz, together with seasoned industry practitioner Thomas Osha, to offer new insights on how successful innovation districts are organizing themselves to forge ahead and to establish a formal network-based organization to support the growth and impact of innovation districts around the world. This work also has culminated in the launch of a research brief entitled “The Evolution of Innovation Districts: The New Geography of Global Innovation”.

The Innovation Quarter joins similar innovation districts in St. Louis, Mo.; New York, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Melbourne, Australia on the Global Institute’s Steering Committee.

“The Innovation Quarter has become a leader around smart and strategic governance,” said Bruce Katz, Global Institute board member and founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University.

The Global Institute’s Steering Committee will be charged with shaping the overall agenda of the Institute and ensuring research, network, and other activities meaningfully advance the paradigm and practice of innovation districts. In addition to Katz, Wagner and Osha, the Steering Committee will eventually include up to fifteen innovation districts that have demonstrated real leadership in the field together with researchers, practitioners and policy makers to help shape the broader research and impact agenda.

The Global Institute was established in response to growing demand to support innovation districts globally. It is designed to be a practitioner-led and empirically grounded not-for-profit organization to strategically advance innovation districts worldwide. The objectives of the organization are to:

  • Create a global network of innovation districts
  • Identify and monitor the growth of innovation districts across global regions
  • Capture and dissect their main challenges and highlight their successes
  • Provide detailed evidence-based strategies and data to accelerate their work
  • Foster collective engagement on top priorities—such as access to capital or IP protections—creating norms around growth, finance, and governance
  • Support communication and shared learning across districts

Findings in the Global Institute’s new report highlight the Innovation Quarter’s unique governance model, its partnership with local and state government entities and its work with developers like Wexford Science + Technology in leveraging historic tax credits to bring about adaptive reuse of historic structures.

“More and more, we are seeing our approach of mixed-use, knowledge-based economic development to be a dynamic force in cities around the country and even the world,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “We have been fortunate enough to share a vision of this approach with our development partners—especially Wexford Science + Technology—as well as with our city, county governments and state partners. All of our partners have helped us become a model for other innovation districts as they establish and grow.”