What is an Innovation Center?

At its essence an Innovation Center is a place that facilitates innovation.  Innovation Centers are different from traditional business parks with large separate corporate offices/campuses or isolated science parks that function as “silos,” because they are specifically designed and operated to enable the formal and informal sharing of ideas between a diverse group of entrepreneurs, start-ups, innovation businesses, students, corporate R & D satellites, and research institutions. 

What is an Innovation District?

A mixed-use Innovation District has a combination of both residential and non-residential uses, either “vertically” (such as apartments over offices) or in separate buildings. The Innovation District offers higher densities and an “urban” scale, usually 4-6 story residential buildings.  Emphases include walkability and opportunities for interaction between residents, businesses, and university researchers/students.  Businesses and buildings in the Innovation District are likely to be smaller than those of an Innovation Center.

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Characteristics of Innovation Centers

  • Designed primarily for private-public research and development facilities, high-technology and science-based companies, and support services. 
  • Have a contractual, formal, or operational relationship with one or more science-research institutions.  Innovation Centers have a role in promoting a university’s research and development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of new ventures, and promoting economic development. 
  • Have a role in aiding the transfer of technology and business skills between university and industry teams.  
  • Places where research, advanced manufacturing, and technology business are located, as opposed to a business park which may include offices, warehouses, or call centers. 

Examples of CA Innovation Centers:

San Francisco Mission Bay

303 acres, anchored by the expansion of the UC San Francisco Medical Center.

Torrey Pines Mesa Technology Center

400+ acres, anchored by UC San Diego, Scripps Institutes and CSU San Diego.

NASA Ames Research Park

500+ acres, anchored by NASA, UC Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue and Singular University. Includes expansion of Google campus.