Julie Wagner, president of the newly established Global Institute on Innovation Districts, is an expert on urban innovation geographies, described as innovation districts. At The Global Institute, Wagner recently co-authored “The evolution of innovation districts: The new geography of global innovation,” expanding on the findings of the original paper on innovation districts published with Brookings. Wagner is also president of Urban Insight, a boutique consulting practice that each year selects only a few projects determined to be of particular promise in shaping cities and communities.
Wagner is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Metro. Wagner often writes articles and blogs about the changing role and power of small-scale, walkable innovation geographies and the value of growing local and regional residents into new jobs.
Wagner served as co-director for the Bass Initiative on Placemaking and Innovation at Brookings between 2015 and early 2018. In 2014, Wagner co-authored the paper “The rise of innovation districts: A new geography of innovation in America,” which observes how new geographies of innovation are emerging in response to broad economic and demographic forces that value specific place-based attributes and amenities. Wagner has also co-authored several papers that address the changing role of innovation and place, including “Innovation spaces: The new design of work” and “Advancing a new wave of economic competitiveness: The role of mayors in the rise of innovation districts.” Wagner is a visiting scholar with the Esade Business School’s Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics. Wagner has written articles on the new geography of innovation for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, Quartz, and The Guardian.
Living in Europe, Wagner continues to help advance the competitiveness of cities and regions globally, including Amsterdam, Be’er Sheva (Israel), Copenhagen, Melbourne, Milan, Silicon Valley, Sheffield, and Sydney.
A trained city planner, Wagner served as a deputy planning director for the District of Columbia, where she developed the city’s long-range plan, orchestrated the development of plans for more than one hundred neighborhoods, and managed all controversial land use disputes associated with projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Wagner earned a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Northeastern University. Wagner has received several planning awards from MIT and the American Planning Association for her work. Wagner is also trained in conflict resolution and police mediation.