Boston Innovation District

SUPPORT MECHANISM:

Initiative to transform 1,000 acres of the South Boston waterfront into an urban environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. 

The development aims to help generate and test civic-tech ideas, provide inclusive and sustainable growth to the region and promote open public collaboration between the various stakeholders. For example, District Hall is a multi-purpose civic space in the innovation district for community members to gather in order to discuss and exchange ideas. Not too far away is Factory 63, an onsite live/ work space offering the versatility of home and office in the same venue. A defining feature of innovation districts is that they are trendy, and Boston’s has an array of nightlife spots, restaurants and cultural attractions.

In addition, it is suitably connected to all the major inter and intra city transport links; Logan airport, MIT, and downtown Boston are all within 15 minutes by public transport.

 

MONITORING + EVALUATION METHODS

In terms of performance up until 2015, according to numbers published on their website, since 2010 the Innovation District has created 5,000 new jobs in 200 companies, of which 30 per cent were in the tech sector. Close to 40% of the companies utilise the coworking spaces provided, or are in incubation programmes, and a quarter of all startups on site are very small outfits with ten employees or fewer.

RESULTS:

2015 data:

New Jobs 
- Added over 5,000 new jobs in over 200 new companies
- Technology companies have contributed 30% of new job growth
- 21% of new jobs are in creative industries like design and advertising
- Greentech + life sciences are growing, with 16% of new jobs in these sectors
 

New Companies
- Of the new companies, 11% are in the education and non-profit sectors
- 40% of new companies are sharing space in co-working spaces and incubators
- 25% of new companies are small scale, with 10 employees or fewer

KEY ADVISOR(S) OR LEADER(S):

This waterfront Innovation District, spread over 1,000 acres of prime but underdeveloped real estate, was the brainchild of Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

NOTES + ADDITIONAL CONTEXT:

About urban innovation districts (excerpt from Nesta's ‘Idea Bank’ for Local Policymakers):

Innovation districts may sound somewhat similar to science parks, or else conjure up images of the corporate campuses that dot suburban areas across global metropolises. However, the concept is rather different, and intended to describe vibrant, accessible, mixed-use urban areas where established innovative companies mingle with startups, incubators and accelerators. The idea is that innovation districts are focused more on knowledge-intensive, open innovation and interactions between people – and hence develop in urban areas rather than the relative sterility of out-of-town science parks.

Whilst some areas have developed organically, others have been consciously created by local authorities through a combination of planning policy, collaboration with knowledge industries and incentives for key anchor tenants.

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