Episode 5: Innovation districts – where ideas happen

A graphic showing a stylised cityscape and people.

Episode summary

Greater Cities is a podcast series about the future of cities. Each episode will challenge listeners to look at the big issues facing our cities, with insights from leading thinkers from Australia and around the world.

How do some cities become centres of innovation? What is their secret to success, and what economic and social benefits can follow?

Cities with strong ideas industries were more economically resilient and rebounded faster from the pandemic. This episode explores the global phenomenon of innovation districts and how, with careful nurturing, they can foster new ideas, attract talent, and enable creative collaborations between research, education and industry. 

Episode details

This episode was produced by the Greater Cities Commission, in partnership with The Business of Cities.

Podcast timeline

[00:00] Welcome and introduction.

[02:31] Characteristics of innovation districts.

[05:26] Why innovation districts matter.

[16:15] Innovation districts in Australia’s Six Cities Region.

[22:38] Factors for success: vision, curation, place and sustainability.

[32:30] Talent in innovation districts.  

[36:29] Conclusion and preview of future episodes. 

Guests in order of appearance
  • Dr Tim Moonen, Managing Director of The Business of Cities (United Kingdom)
  • Emma Frost, Director of Innovation, Sustainability & Community at the London Legacy Development Corporation (United Kingdom)  
  • William Bao Bean, Managing Director of Orbit Startups and General Partner of SOSV (China)
  • Mark Pesce,  futurist, producer, consultant, and host of the ‘This Week in Startups Australia’ podcast (Australia)
  • Petra Andrén, Head of Innovation Districts at the Greater Cities Commission (Australia)
  • Julie Wagner, Founder and President of the Global Institute of Innovation Districts (United Kingdom)
  • John Lydon, Economic Commissioner at the Greater Cities Commission (Australia)
  • Carol Vale, CEO of Murawin (Australia)
  • Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (United Kingdom)
  • Kourtny Garrett, former CEO of Downtown Dallas and current CEO of Downtown Denver (United States)
  • Vincent Gollain, Head of Economy at the Institut de Paris Region (France)
  • Dr Jacqueline Cramer, Professor in Sustainable Innovation and Strategic Advisor of the Utrecht Sustainability Institute at Utrecht University and a former Minister of Spatial Planning, Housing and Environment (The Netherlands)
  • Ricardo Valente, Head of Economic Development at the City of Porto (Portugal). 
About the Greater Cities Commission

The Greater Cities Commission is driving Australia’s first global city region – the Six Cities Region in New South Wales.  Our role is to coordinate and align the planning that will shape the future of our region, accelerate the delivery of key innovation districts and lead discussion on major city-shaping issues.

About The Business of Cities

The Business of Cities is an urban intelligence firm that provides insights, strategy and benchmarking to over 100 global cities, companies and institutions, including more than 10 Australian cities and state governments. Over the last 15 years it has partnered and produced collaborative thought leadership on the future of cities and metropolises for organisations including the OECD, UN Habitat, UCLG, JLL, World Bank, ULI and Brookings Institution.

References and resources