Anchoring Innovation Districts
The Entrepreneurial University and Urban Change
In recent years, the successful revitalization of urban areas has turned them into magnets for those looking for opportunities in a fast-paced and rapidly unfolding technology-based economy. After the economic crisis of 2008, many colleges and universities attempted to generate alternative sources of revenue and pursued aggressive economic development strategies. Some universities even began to actively invest resources in the rebirth (and rebranding) of urban cores, encouraging the development of entrepreneurial, technology-oriented innovation districts.
In Anchoring Innovation Districts, Costas Spirou explains that these districts have emerged as geographic clusters of technology startups, business incubators, and accelerators. They aim to take advantage of intellectual capital, commercialize knowledge, and give their associated institutions a way to enter into the market. The outcome of robust private-public partnerships and complex real estate strategies, these initiatives also complement other urban revitalization efforts and reshape the socioeconomic makeup of city neighborhoods. Presenting readers with six case studies that explore the role of technological innovation, Spirou argues that higher education–anchored innovation districts can make significant contributions to economic expansion, job growth, and the institutions that guide their development. He also points out that these districts nonetheless raise questions about the impact of the Ivory Tower on the urban environment.
Spirou focuses on midtown Atlanta's Tech Square (Georgia Tech), suburban Boston's Kendall Square (MIT), Philadelphia's University City (the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the University of the Sciences), the PHX Core (Arizona State University), and the role that the University of West Florida in Pensacola and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga play in developing innovation ecosystems. Anchoring Innovation Districts provides unique insight into the transformative opportunities offered and the challenges faced by higher education in the built environment. University administrators, board members, policy makers, and scholars will find Spirou's analysis thought-provoking and helpful.
About the Author
Costas Spirou is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College & State University, where he is a professor of sociology and public administration. Most recently he is the coauthor of Building the City of Spectacle: Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Remaking of Chicago and the author of Urban Tourism and Urban Change: Cities in a Global Economy.
"Very interesting, timely, and readable. Spirou's book explains the new entrepreneurial university, identifies creative innovative examples in the nonprofit university sector, and suggests ways to better connect with urban communities in which universities are located. I didn't want to put it down."
"Spirou, an urban affairs scholar and seasoned university administrator, sheds invaluable light on the town-and-gown partnership to create innovation districts. Anchoring Innovation Districts is a must-read for entrepreneurial university administrators and city officials contemplating how to improve both the research ecosystem and economic vivacity of their neighborhoods."
"Hard times demand change, but how? This clear overview of entrepreneurial activities colleges pursue is critical for serious policy discussions. Learn more here faster and more thoughfully than from most consultants and social media. Fiscal and other criteria sensitively considered."
"Spirou uses compelling case studies to document methodically how entrepreneurial universities drive technological innovation, which in turn drives urban economic development. Modelling the kind of interdisciplinary thinking that generates innovation, Spirou argues that it is not just research universities in large cities like Atlanta, Boston, and Phoenix but regional universities in mid-sized cities like Pensacola and Chattanooga that drive technological innovation and urban change."
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