UB Creating Innovation Districts

Published November 1, 2017

The university is developing innovation districts as part of its plans to encourage entrepreneurship among faculty, students and staff.

Expanding our culture of Entrepreneurship

“This will directly generate wealth for the university and our region.”
Christina Orsi, Associate VP for Economic Development
Office of VP for Research and Economic Development

The university is developing innovation districts as part of its plans to encourage entrepreneurship among faculty, students and staff.

Bruce Katz with Brookings Institution defines Innovation Districts as “... geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with startups, business incubators and accelerators.  They are also physically compact, transit-accessible and technically wired, and offer mixed-use housing, office and retail. They are the manifestation of mega-trends altering the location preferences of people and firms and, in the process, re-conceiving the very link between economy shaping, place making and social networking.”

For the university, it is a shift from the traditional, single-purpose research park to encourage and increase university research and student engagement with industry and other strategic partners, including startups and established companies.

“Innovation districts not only focus on fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, but help to create new industries and transform marketplaces by solving real-world problems,” says Christina Orsi, associate vice president for economic development.

Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration says, “It’s a key complement to our physical master plan, Building UB, in imagining these spaces across our three campuses.”

The university seeks to:

  • Foster a culture of entrepreneurship that produces the talent and leadership to carry our region into the future;
  • Integrate business engagement with teaching, research and creative activity to solve real world problems, while providing transformational experiential learning opportunities for students;
  • Transfer technology to create new industries that can transform marketplaces and generate new wealth for the region;
  • Use our multi-campus footprint and encourage stakeholder collaboration to employ smart growth strategies that promote sustainable and resilient innovation districts.

UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships office is coordinating the initiative, a process that includes an advisory team representing each school as well as several university administrative offices. The qualified consultant team — U3, Sasaki, and Corneil — is facilitating the process, including surveys of faculty, staff, students and incubator companies. The advisory committee will review the information and offer recommendations by late 2018.