(Extracts, comments and Palermo tech “corridor” on case study)

Innovation districts embody the very essence of cities: an aggregation of talented, driven people, assembled in close quarters, who exchange ideas and knowledge in what urban historian Sir Peter Hall calls a “dynamic process of innovation, imitation, and improvement.” –Peter Hall.

A new complementary urban model is now emerging, giving rise to what we and others are calling “innovation districts.” These districts, are geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. They are also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail.

Boston Innovation District

Innovation districts constitute the ultimate mash up of entrepreneurs and educational institutions, start-ups and schools, mixed-use development and medical innovations, bike-sharing and bankable investments — all connected by transit, powered by clean energy, wired for digital technology, and fueled by caffeine.

Given the vast distinctions in regional economies, the form and function of innovation districts differ markedly across the United States. Yet all innovation districts contain economic, physical, and networking assets. When these three assets combine with a supportive, risk-taking culture they create an innovation ecosystem — a synergistic relationship between people, firms and place (the physical geography of the district) that facilitates idea generation and accelerates commercialization.

Assets of an Innovation Ecosystem

Economic assets are the firms, institutions and organizations that drive, cultivate or support an innovation-rich environment.

Physical assets are the public and privately-owned spaces — buildings, open spaces, streets and other infrastructure — designed and organized to stimulate new and higher levels of connectivity, collaboration and innovation.

Networking assets are the relationships between actors — such as individuals, firms and institutions — that have the potential to generate, sharpen and accelerate the advancement of ideas. Networks fuel innovation because they strengthen trust and collaboration within and across companies and industry clusters, provide information for new discoveries and help firms acquire resources and enter new markets.

The New Geography of Innovation Today > Innovation is taking place where people come together, not in isolated spaces.

Some US. Examples:

Cambridge (Kendall Square) | Philadelphia (University City)

St. Louis (Cortex) | Detroit (Downtown-midtown)

Seattle (South Lake Union) | Boston (Innovation District)

North Carolina (Research Triangle Park)

World examples: Barcelona @22

It is important to point out that the “anchor plus” model, primarily found in the downtowns and mid-towns of central cities, is where large scale mixed-use development is centered around major anchor institutions and a rich base of related firms, entrepreneurs and spin-off companies involved in the commercialization of innovation. “Anchor plus” is best exemplified by Kendall Square in Cambridge (and the explosion of growth around MIT and other nearby institutions like Mass. General Hospital) and the Cortex district in St. Louis (flanked by Washington University, Saint Louis University, and Barnes Jewish Hospital).

The Palermo tech “corridor” effect

Palermo tech corridor in Buenos Aires

Argentina and its most thriving urban areas, such as Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza (among others) have a unique chance in order to include this proven concept so as to develop social and economic growth within these areas. Palermo tech “corridor”, Branching along both sides of Juan B. Justo avenue and between Ministro Carranza, Palermo, and Plaza Italia Subway stations, already includes many of the drivers and “musts”as world class examples above, but still needs to work in its vision and networking assets so as to have Government, Private interests, Universities, Research facilities (such as National Science and Technology), entrepreneurs and citizens, working together in a common shared path and vision. The organic way in which this corridor has risen since its renaissance has granted lots of benefits to its direct neighbourhood citizens, but lacks the spillover effect into other surrounding areas as well as the rest of the city.

Regarding the pre-described assets, Palermo tech “corridor” includes all of the aforementioned key assets needed to develop an Innovation district:

  1. Economic Assets. Well developed Innovation Cultivators such as Incubators, Accelerators and Coworking Spaces. It also includes Innovation Drivers: Passionate and creative entrepreneurs that are currently thriving and where baseline of Argentina´s 4 worldwide known unicorns.
AreaTres Coworking Space Event

2. Physical Assets. Palermo tech corridor includes a wide open space in which the National Science and Technology Ministry building & park is located. Although its walkable and riding distance from any place in the corridor this public area still needs to develop a masterplan of activities and events in order for it to be incorporated in the corridor with the innovative perspective that it already possesses.

Regarding private physical assets, this corridor includes several office builings in which creative industries representatives can be found such as advertising agencies and cinematographic ventures. But again, the main issue here resides in collaboration towards a common vision, identity and working together.

National Science and Technology Ministry building and park (Situated within Palermo Corridor)

3. Networking Assets. The most commonly known attribute of Palermo tech corridor are group and community development events. Something that is very particular about this hub is that the knitting “space” between all of the assets above is not found (as you may in other countries) in specific innovation spaces or landmarks, but in crafted breweries.

Temple Bar Brewery

> Please Click here, to read full article in which this piece was based on.

Credits: Katz, B., & Wagner, J. (n.d.). THE RISE OF INNOVATION DISTRICTS. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/essay/rise-of-innovation-districts/

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