WHAT IS AN INNOVATION ZONE?
An innovation zone refers to the presence of a complete ecosystem dedicated to innovation and concentrated geographically in a specific sector. It involves various entities, including:
- Institutional bodies
- Knowledge centers
- Research centers
- Venture capital
- Incubators and accelerators and much more
Any type of actor can be involved in the ecosystem as long as its activities are related to innovation.
ORIGIN OF THE INNOVATION ZONE CONCEPT
The innovation zone has emerged, among other things, from the evolution of the technology park, a concept now completely diversified. While the first generation of technology parks was more of an extension of the university and prioritized physical layout and support services for businesses, the concept has transformed to take on new unique forms. These new forms integrate value-added support services, virtual collaboration across extensive networks, open innovation and dynamic environments at the heart of agile and creative models. There are now a multitude of types, from mega-parks to micro-parks, including virtual parks.
This diversification has facilitated the development of innovation zones, a relatively new concept in Quebec and in full emergence. Indeed, innovation zones exist worldwide in various forms, with intensity and scale varying according to models, such as the Innovation Partnership Zones in the Seattle region.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN INNOVATION ZONE?
Innovation zones serve to concentrate energies, efforts and expertise, as well as to create stronger connections with a region’s innovation system. They lead to better mobilization of the community, optimized access to resources and the creation of critical masses that allow the organization to tap into the expertise needed for project advancement.
Innovation is a vast field that is difficult to pigeonhole and mainly brings about structuring results in the medium or long term. Innovation zones help facilitate efficient connections between different actors, for example, to:
- Commercialize a product resulting from innovation
- Develop hosting infrastructures to attract high-tech companies
- Support technology startups
- Provide access to tailored services such as incubators and so on.
The innovation zone encourages the emergence of certain initiatives or the arrival of companies that would not otherwise have developed in the area. Above all, it creates a mindset where all ecosystem players are more open to innovation and willing to concentrate their efforts on deploying innovative projects.
HOW CAN ESPACE STRATÉGIES ASSIST YOU?
Espace Stratégies has a recognized experience in economic development, developed over more than 30 years and can assist you in several ways:
- Establishing governance infrastructure for the innovation zone, i.e., the organization or non-profit in charge of structuring and implementing initiatives in the designated area.
- Assisting in the startup and management of the innovation zone, working on basic concepts, service offerings and governance structure.
- Collaborating with you on the ecosystem approach, establishing the partner network, mobilizing and animating the community, as well as generating promising ideas for the area.
Economic development encompasses the entire ecosystem, and we have developed trusted relationships with numerous stakeholders in the institutional environment. Indeed, it is important to rely on the participation of all actors and partners, as each can have an impact on the economic development of their community. For example:
- Economic development services and local development centers (CLD)
- Cities, municipalities, boroughs and RCMs
- Urban planning services
- Organizations related to communities
- Commercial Development Corporations (CDC), etc.
The approach we have developed is inclusive, participative and co-creative. At the end of the process, the client has already integrated the solutions raised during the workshops because they participated in the entire thought process. They are thus able to appropriate the tools that allow them to develop their autonomy. We push our clients to go further during workshops and we commit to evaluating ideas with an external and independent perspective.