Part One: Uptown Innovation Corridor Meets Entire Scope of Brookings Standards for Successful Innovation Districts

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Since 2012, the Uptown Consortium (UCI) has led an intense planning and community engagement effort to establish a framework for the Uptown Innovation Corridor, a rare, urban development opportunity in Uptown Cincinnati. Anchored by the University of Cincinnati, UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and TriHealth, Uptown Cincinnati is the region’s center of research and innovation making it the perfect place for a successful innovation district.

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, has done extensive research on innovation districts all over the world. Brookings documented 12 principles to developing successful innovation districts. To date, UCI has successfully implemented the entire assessment into its planning and implementation processes for the Uptown Innovation Corridor. This is the first of a three-part series detailing UCI’s efforts to implement the first four of 12 principles.    

1. The clustering of innovative sectors and research strengths is the backbone of innovation districts.

Uptown Cincinnati is rich with diverse, innovation sectors. From the anchor institutions, which bring world-renowned research in the biosciences, to the government institutions leading the environmental and health research in the nation and the small businesses and community groups, these organizations are the backbone of the Corridor’s tenant recruiting efforts.

2. For innovation districts, convergencethe melding of disparate sectors and disciplinesis king.

Like many innovation districts, the Uptown Innovation Corridor will be a place for companies from multiple industries to come together and innovate. Most notably, we have seen this idea come to life in the UC 1819 Innovation Hub, located in the southeast section of the Corridor. The 1819 building will be an interdisciplinary center to connect the university, businesses and community organizations to collaborate on business solutions and industry problems. Last month, UC announced their partnership with Cincinnati Bell to connect Cincinnati Bell’s corporate employees with students in engineering, information technology, marketing and other departments to collaborate on innovative product solutions.

3. Districts are supercharged by a diversity of institutions, companies and start-ups.

In innovation districts it is important to mix established, large companies with smaller start-ups. It’s a winning blend that combines the resources of larger organizations to create opportunities with the agility of small companies to accelerate innovative growth. Due to the Uptown Innovation Corridor’s location, it is in a unique position to leverage Cincinnati’s corporate companies and Uptown anchor institutions to attract diverse firms of different sizes.

4. Connectivity and proximity are the underpinnings of strong district ecosystems.

UCI recognized the need to connect Uptown Cincinnati to the rest of the region. After a decade of advocacy by UCI, the City of Cincinnati, neighborhood stakeholders, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council, Ohio Department of Transportation and others, the $80 million Martin Luther King Drive interchange opened and dramatically transformed the region’s connectivity.

UCI also has a multi-modal transportation plan for the Corridor. It will include rapid bus transit, parking, shared shuttles, bicycle infrastructure and a new transit hub in the northeast quadrant.

Visit the Brookings Institution for more information on the 12 principles to a successful innovation district.