Philadelphia’s innovation economy is strong, but city leaders can do more with its existing assets to compete globally and benefit local communities, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.
The culmination of an 18-month study, “Connect to compete: How the University City-Center City innovation district can help Philadelphia excel globally and serve locally” examines the role of the innovation district within University City and Center City Philadelphia as a regional economic hub and as a key part of Philadelphia’s efforts to become a world-class innovation city.
Stretching from 17th Street to 43rd Street along the Market Street corridor, and south along the Schuylkill River to Grays Ferry, the 1.5 square mile innovation district in University City and west Center City is perhaps the most significant innovation hub among several in the Philadelphia region.
Philadelphia is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the country and ranks among the top 10 metros based on its total annual amount of public and academic research expenditures. However, it underperforms on several key metrics given its size and assets. To improve its economic competitiveness and grow more firms and jobs, the region needs to better leverage and align its strengths.
To this end, the study makes a number of recommendations. Among them is the establishment of an Innovation Council— a leadership group with the ability to bring diverse industry, public-sector, and civic stakeholders together to drive innovation, inclusion, and placemaking in the district and beyond.
Philadelphia’s chance of becoming a top-tier city—with the attendant firms, jobs, revenues, and innovations that status would bring to the city and region—cannot hinge on individual acts or institutions. Given its assets and the progress it has already made, it is clear Philadelphia can rise to this collective challenge.
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and its Select Greater Philadelphia Council are committed to leading the community dialogue to determine the best strategies to put the recommendations from the study into action.