Innovation districts are compact geographic areas where institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators sharing ideas and open innovation.
During this Going Global panel event, senior leaders from university and organisations - who have been actively engaged in driving knowledge and innovation within and across cities and regions – discussed innovation districts and took questions from a packed audience.
Ed Byrne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, King's College London, UK, acknowledged that innovation districts are a ‘complex issue’ explaining: “They are all about drawing in talented clever people from a range of fields. They all have a close relationship to local geography and they always have one or more significant universities at their heart. The universities are an essential ingredient; the formula doesn’t work without them. “
Kat Hanna from Centre for London questioned how important it is to have a national strategy towards innovation. Ed Byrne replied: “Innovation precincts have to be attuned to the local environment. In China you have multiple examples related to areas of wealth. You have a central government who want high tech innovation environments. This is about the city as an ecosystem, it’s about clever cities. “
The panel also considered what success looks like for innovation cities, observing that not everything that cities attract are necessarily wanted. Roberta Malee Bassett, Senior Education Specialist, The World Bank, questioned how you make investment in innovation a relevant investment for governments with many priorities. She also noted that innovation looks different depending on where you are in the world.