Breath new life into your real estate with centres of excellence that support entrepreneurship, innovation and technological advancement.
Innovation Districts Consulting combines unique physical spaces, valuable business services and curated communities. Together, these elements create attractive destinations that tenants and users will flock to—and ultimately pay a premium to be part of.Cockerton + Co has helped to create leading Innovation Districts, like Level39 in London’s Canary Wharf. We can help transform your asset into a high-value innovation district which delivers a thriving community, business growth, and maximum asset value.
What is innovation districts consulting?
According to the Brookings Institute in the US, Innovation Districts are “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators.”
They are also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail.” Interestingly, the term Innovation district is being used not solely to define suburban business parks, but also to describe centrally-located urban hubs of innovation activity.
What’s more, these centres aren’t just reserved for large cities like London. For smaller cities needing to attract investors, entrepreneurs and the business community—and venture into new industrial sectors—Innovation Districts are becoming the key economic development tool.
This trend towards specialised working hubs is a very exciting transformation for landowners and professionals working in real estate.
Who benefits from developing Innovation Districts?
Real estate is becoming a commodity. This is because factors including the pandemic, remote working, and oversupply of office space are driving down demand and therefore prices for workspaces.
On the other hand, Innovation Districts deliver the promise of economic growth, technological advancement, job creation, skill development and business collaboration. As premium real estate assets, they’re in high demand among many stakeholders.
Potential for real estate:
Developing Innovation Districts can improve your access to public assets and accelerate planning permissions.
Potential for real estate:
Attract high-value tenants who are committed to the location for longer-term.
Potential for real estate:
Create a natural buzz, embrace and support locals, and manage the potentially negative connotations of gentrification.
Potential for real estate:
De-risk the investment by securing projects with University-owned assets and an established, active community.
What makes Innovation Districts successful?
Innovation Districts will look and operate differently depending on the city they are situated in, the customers and partners they need to serve, and the industry focus.
Cockerton + Co are experienced experts in the design and operations of many specialised Innovation Districts, from FinTech (Level39, Innovate Finance), to AI and Cyber Security (Plexal). Accordingly, we’ve witnessed first-hand the difference that it makes when Innovation Districts are tailored to their audience.
Successful Innovation Districts must incorporate:
How do Innovation Districts compare to traditional commercial real estate?
Innovation Districts are becoming a strategic pillar for many institutions, driving growth, innovation and international relevance. However, they are more complex propositions to design, launch and manage, compared to traditional commercial real estate. This is why it is important to take an informed and considered approach when establishing one.
The upshot is that even institutions that excel at research and development need help with the transition to becoming an Innovation District. This is because Innovation Districts need to be more market-facing, entrepreneurial and integrated with industry. Cockerton + Co saw this first hand in a recent project with one of Canada’s leading academic institutions.
A closer look at a world-class Life Sciences Innovation District
Cockerton + Co’s recent project for the University of Toronto, the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus, is set to be a globally significant Life Sciences Centre. Cockerton + Co has been providing consulting services to deliver the activation strategy, business modelling and operations of the new cluster. The end goal is for the centre to create companies that radically advance world health care.
For this kind of Innovation District, the University of Toronto needed careful design and expert operations. It was vital to deliver the right services to student entrepreneurs, pharma companies, research hospitals, academic researchers, investors and supporting business professionals.
Cockerton + Co helped build the business model for this Life Sciences Innovation District – incorporating lab spaces, testing facilities, professional services, partnerships with hospitals to facilitate clinical trials, start-up and scale-up programming, and much more. The organisation’s design and key operational processes are dynamic, delivering academic content or running facilities, and they demand a sophisticated team.
Becoming a world-class destination for Life Sciences Advancements in critical sectors like Cell and Gene Therapy, Artificial Intelligence Diagnostics, and Medical Device Innovation, is not a simple project. However, it’s one that’s worth the investment, both financially and for its positive impact on humanity.
This project is not only about positioning U of T as an innovation and market-facing institution attractive partners for corporates and governments alike. This type of project is also a matter of national security and public health. And when the stakes are so high, getting it right is critical.
Why Innovation Districts play a key role in economic growth
Innovation Districts are gaining popularity the world over. They are seen by cities to create a competitive advantage, draw in foreign direct investment, and enable businesses and talent to flourish. These advantages are critical to any city’s economic future.
In addition, Innovation Districts are where Covid vaccines are discovered, Cyber Security solutions proliferate, and where new products and services that change our lives emerge. As the world has seen from the pandemic, developing local capacity to solve global challenges is critically important to national security and wellness.
For commercial real estate owners, creating Innovation Districts is an incredibly powerful activation and place-making strategy. More importantly, they can drive diversified revenue streams into traditional business models and can assure asset appreciation over relatively short periods of time. Innovation Districts are high value, high-tech places which have an authentic identity, thereby differentiating them from generic workspaces and new developments.
Innovation Districts can also accelerate planning permissions (as they are key drivers in urban regeneration, jobs, and knowledge economy skills).
In terms of business models, Innovation Districts are more resilient as they benefit from rental incomes for space, but also service incomes, membership subscriptions and strategic partnership deals, plus ticket sales to conferences and events.
The innovation district proposition is in our view the future of commercial real estate developments. And for landowners, property fund managers and developers, they are one of the safest and most sustainable investments.
What does the Innovation District consulting process look like?
Cockerton + Co can help you design, build, and operate your Innovation District—whether you have a number of floors in a weathered building or a large complex of mixed-use buildings. We can transform disused and stale retail shopping centres, characterless business parks, Olympic parks, and urban real estate in need of a revitalisation strategy.
Innovation district consulting usually unfolds over the following process: