Key Issues: Economic Development

Innovation-Driven Economic Development

Regional innovation is not a new challenge. What is new is the broad agreement that innovation and regional vitality and quality of life are inextricably linked. What is also new is the understanding that innovation is not simply the responsibility of individual companies, economic development professionals, public officials, or non-profit leaders—nor is it simply an economic issue. Regional innovation requires collaboration across jurisdictions, sectors, and issues—including economic, environmental and social concerns. Boundary-crossing of this kind is what regional innovation brokers do.

The Innovation-Driven Economic Development Model

In April 2007, the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC), an Economic Institute-managed partnership of national laboratories, research universities, private and independent laboratories and community organizations, convened the first Bay Area Innovation Network Roundtable. This event was one of the initial steps in BASIC’s work under a broad U.S. Department of Labor WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative for the California Innovation Corridor under the direction of the California Space Authority.

The roundtable gathered some of the Bay Area’s leading visionaries to focus on identifying the emerging patterns and “drivers” of the next wave of innovation. These leaders also laid down a challenge: for the Bay Area to remain a leader in today’s competitive innovative global environment, we must change how we act, how we think and how we work together.

What does it mean to be a broker of regional innovation?

The first of the project documents linked below describes an innovation-driven economic development model based on the new realities of globalization and the changing nature of the innovation process. For practitioners choosing to make the transition to regional innovation brokers, this model identifies a series of steps for understanding and mobilizing their region’s innovation assets. Additional supporting documents focus on related workforce preparedness issues, specifically in connection with California’s life sciences industries.