What is an Innovation District?

Innovation districts represent a transformative approach to urban development, fostering thriving ecosystems of innovation within cities. Unlike traditional science parks, these districts are characterized by their compact and accessible urban locations, deliberately designed to attract R&D institutions, companies, startups, and entrepreneurs. Barcelona’s 22@ Project emerged in 2000 as a groundbreaking initiative to rejuvenate the El Poblenou neighborhood. This area, once a bustling industrial hub, had seen a decline with the closure of numerous factories. The 22@ Project revitalized the neighborhood by connecting it to the city’s vibrant core through transportation initiatives. This visionary effort marked the birth of an innovation district, emphasizing the importance of adapting urban spaces to the evolving needs of knowledge-based societies. 

Innovation districts like the 22@ Project represent a shift away from the suburban Silicon Valley model, favoring urban neighborhoods that provide essential amenities, connectivity, and collaboration opportunities. They serve as magnets for a diverse range of businesses, fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and knowledge-sharing. These districts are not just economic drivers for cities but also exemplify the convergence of innovation and urban life, signaling a compelling approach to revitalizing economies and enhancing the overall quality of life within urban centers. 

Positioned For Growth 

In 2015, major Oklahoma City institutions joined forces to support the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking by Brookings Institution. The focus was on analyzing the emerging innovation district in Health Center and Automobile Alley, aiming to leverage its concentration of innovation assets. 

Brookings and Project for Public Spaces conducted extensive assessments, including quantitative analysis, surveys, and stakeholder engagement. The collaborative effort yielded recommendations to enhance the district’s innovative ecosystem, promote vibrancy, and boost competitiveness for the city and region. 


Challenges From the Brookings Study

Challenge 1: Lack of Innovation 

  • The Innovation district has historically been a medical-focused region and lacks institution density and diversity. 
  • Limited presence of firms, startups, and innovation spaces compared to peers. 
  • Lack of strategic connections among healthcare, energy, and regional assets. 

Challenge 2: Place Challenges 

  • Car-centric layout and lack of gathering spaces hinder interaction and collaboration among companies and workers. 
  • Limited walkability creates distance to nearby amenity-rich areas, affecting the appeal of the district. 
  • These drawbacks might impede talent attraction for firms and institutions in the district. 

Challenge 3: Inclusion 

  • District offers well-paying jobs for varying education and skill levels. 
  • About 55% of jobs in the district don’t require a four-year degree. 
  • Low-income residents in neighboring communities have limited access to district employment opportunities. 


About OKCID  

OKCID is a non-profit organization that aims to revitalize Oklahoma City’s entrepreneurial landscape, fostering job growth and a more inclusive economy.  

The district rests in Northeast OKC, a hub of industry creating innovative solutions through research, technology, energy, healthcare, biomanufacturing, and aerospace. 

OKCID intends to increase connectivity and collaboration across Oklahoma City, making it the dark horse of innovation in America. 

OKCID aims to aid businesses of all sizes across Northeast Oklahoma City to bring economic development and growth to the “Sooner State”.  

OKCID’s intends to create a place where people can live, work, play and stay in Oklahoma to contribute to its rapidly evolving ecosystem.