Brookings Institution Innovation District Analysis and Assessment

In this two-part project, Mass Economics partnered with the Brookings Institution to develop a template to identify and assess innovation districts across the U.S. The first phase of the project developed and tested a data template to be used to assess the baseline district characteristics, identify strengths and weaknesses, and inform the growth and inclusion strategies of urban innovation districts. Mass Economics applied the data template to eight innovation districts nationwide including Kendall Square and Dudley Square in Massachusetts, Cortex in St. Louis, Texas Medical Center in Houston, and University City in Philadelphia.

In the second part of the project, Mass Economics worked with the Brookings Institution to perform deep-dive audits of innovation district assets and activities in Philadelphia’s University City and Oklahoma City’s medical district. Metrics in six strategic focus areas were used to assess innovation: critical mass, a measure of concentration of assets and activities; connectivity and collaboration; diversity and inclusion; asset alignment; specializations; and the district’s quality of place and experience. Audit findings were then used to identify strategic actions to accelerate economic activity in each district. Peer innovation districts from across the U.S. were also analyzed to put Philadelphia and Oklahoma City’s innovation districts in context and allow for the identification of strengths and weaknesses.


The Brookings Institution,


2015, 2016,


Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas,

Project Type:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship,