WASHINGTON, DC, December 8, 2015—The Brookings Institution has begun an 18-month study of Philadelphia’s emerging innovation district, an area encompassing western Center City and University City. With research help from Project for Public Spaces and the support of a consortium of Philadelphia anchor institutions and corporations, the study will focus on the district’s economic strengths, quality of place, and proximity to infrastructure. The work is part of the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a joint initiative Brookings and PPS launched earlier this fall.
The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking aims to catalyze a new approach to city-building that integrates the reinforcing benefits of vibrant public spaces, innovative urban economies, and inclusive growth.
The Bass Initiative builds on Brookings’s research on innovation districts—dense, amenity-rich enclaves that are typically anchored by R&D institutions and facilitate new ideas and businesses—and PPS’s long track record in placemaking, a participatory community process to develop quality public spaces by capitalizing on a community’s assets and potential. It will encourage mixed-use entrepreneurial and cultural districts through research, network building, and on-the-ground projects, including studies of the innovation ecosystems in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia.
The initiative’s Philadelphia study will use quantitative analysis and stakeholder interviews to audit the innovative industries and networking and physical assets in Center City and University City. The resulting research will suggest ways to maximize and connect the district’s quality of life and economic strengths and bolster its position as a key driver within the regional economy.
Financial support for the study is provided by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Comcast, Drexel, FMC, Independence Blue Cross, PECO, University City Science Center, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Pennsylvania Health System. This group will engage with stakeholders from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to articulate local priorities and respond to the research’s findings once they are made public.
The study will build on Brookings’s deep experience working with local leaders to research and implement best practices in regional economic development and inclusive community-building.