A Global Role Model

Panoramic aerial view of Wake Forest School of Medicine buildings in Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, NC
A new Global Institute on Innovation Districts has selected the Innovation Quarter as one of six inaugural members from around the world to join its initial steering committee.

The Innovation Quarter joins similar districts in St. Louis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Melbourne, Australia, on the Global Institute’s steering committee. 

“The Innovation Quarter has become a leader around smart and strategic governance,” said Bruce Katz, Global Institute board member and founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University. 

The Global Institute was launched following five years of research and on-the-ground practice by Katz and Julie Wagner, authors of “Rise of Innovation Districts” published in 2014 by The Brookings Institution. 

The steering committee will shape the institute’s overall agenda and ensure that research, network and other activities meaningfully advance the paradigm and practice of innovation districts. 
The committee eventually will include up to 15 innovation districts that have demonstrated leadership in the field together with researchers, practitioners and policy makers to help shape the broader research and impact agenda. 

The Global Institute highlighted the Innovation Quarter’s unique governance model, its partnership with local and state government entities and its work with developers like Wexford Science + Technology in leveraging historic tax credits to bring about adaptive reuse of historic structures. 

“More and more, we are seeing our approach of mixed-use, knowledge-based economic development to be a dynamic force in cities around the country and even the world,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. 

“We have been fortunate enough to share a vision of this approach with our development partners— especially Wexford Science + Technology—as well as with our city, county governments and state partners. All of our partners have helped us become a model for other innovation districts as they establish and grow.” 

The Global Institute was established in response to growing demand to support innovation districts globally. It is designed to be a practitioner-led and empirically grounded not-for-profit organization that strategically advances innovation districts worldwide. Its objectives include: 


  • Create a global network of innovation districts. 
  • Identify and monitor the growth of innovation districts across global regions. 
  • Capture and dissect their main challenges and highlight their successes. 
  • Provide detailed, evidence-based strategies and data to accelerate their work. 
  • Foster collective engagement on top priorities— such as access to capital or IP protections— creating norms around growth, finance and governance. 
  • Support communication and shared learning across districts.