The vision of the Oklahoma City Innovation District is to bring together the greatest minds in total collaboration, yielding world-changing results. Home to internationally-acclaimed organizations spanning Oklahoma’s diverse sectors – health, energy, aerospace, technology, academia and more – the Innovation District provides opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and community growth.
The purpose of the Innovation District is to capitalize on OKC’s dominant industries; investing in high-quality places where research institutions, firms, and talent concentrate and connect. The district will support the region in being more competitive, both in attracting investment and the talent necessary to continue our community’s economic expansion. And, not incidentally, it is critical that we provide more opportunities for area residents who are not currently connected to the innovation economy. As an existing employment hub, the home of major anchor institutions and research assets, and a site ripe for placemaking interventions, the innovation district could propel the Oklahoma City region forward.
Innovation districts are concentrations of research-oriented anchor institutions, companies, intermediaries, cultural amenities, community-oriented public spaces, and retail and residential space. OKC’s emerging Innovation District currently encompasses about 1.3 square miles east of downtown — roughly between NE 13-16th Streets to the north and NE 4th to the south and Robinson and Lottie Avenues to the west and east. It crosses Broadway/Interstate 235 and includes Automobile Alley in addition to the Oklahoma Health Center, University Research Park, and numerous other institutions. The OKC Innovation District is also home to the heart of the city’s bioscience sector, where many institutions are already conducting groundbreaking research and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. A significant center of job growth, the district reflects the shifting geography of the global economy and the emergence of dense hubs of economic activity where innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and placemaking intersect.
The Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces have recently completed an 18-month study of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District. The report, “Positioning for Growth: Advancing the Oklahoma City Innovation District” finds that, with the right investments, the Oklahoma City innovation district has the potential to become a major center of gravity for regional innovation and economic development.
This work, which focuses on the district’s economic strengths and quality of place, is part of the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a collaboration between the Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces. It aims to catalyze a new cross-disciplinary approach to city building that integrates the reinforcing benefits of vibrant public spaces, innovative urban economies, and inclusive growth.
As part of the Bass Initiative, Brookings continues its work on innovation districts, dense enclaves that merge the innovation and employment potential of research-oriented anchor institutions, high-growth firms, and tech and creative start-ups in well-designed, amenity-rich residential and commercial environments.
In the year since we released “The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America,” Brookings has visited or interacted with dozens of leaders in burgeoning innovation districts in the United States and Europe. In so doing, we’ve sharpened our knowledge of what’s happening on the ground and gained some important insights into how cities and metros are embracing this new paradigm of economy-shaping, place-making, and network-building.
The Innovation District encompasses an area alternately known as the Oklahoma Health Center, OU Medical Center and the Health Sciences Center. The Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces have been studying the district since October 2015. The district stretches north and south from NW 13 Street to Fourth Street, southeast to the railroad tracks, east to Lottie Avenue, and west to Robinson Avenue.