It is now recognised that universities can, and should be, a catayst for innovation, enterprise and regeneration. Research activities, new start-ups, and young lively students add vitality and economic benefits to the areas in which they are situated. Over the last decades there have been a number of partnerships between universities, communities and businesses, one of the most long-standing being in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of MIT and Harvard. All around the world, however, new urban quarters are being developed. One, aptly named Innovation Square, is in Gainesville in the north of Florida.
Their website states: “Innovation Square is a community that brings research and business together to inspire people to think bigger. Encouraging different disciplines to interact. Allowing researchers to work smarter. Unleashing Creativity. Accelerating the development of new ideas. Stimulating discovery of breakthrough technology which is greater than the sum of its parts…”
As in Cambridge, Mass, this is not an isolated science park, but a district of the city, connected both to the nearby campus of the University of Florida and the revitalised downtown. Innovation Square is an ambitious 40 acre development which will see development of over five million square feet of office, research, and hi-tech space with residences, retail, hotel and open space “fusing the private sector with the University of Florida, through access to cutting edge research and information, creating opportunity to collaborate with talented researchers in a place that is recognized for transferring new ideas to the marketplace”.
The development includes the Florida Innovation Hub which is an incubator for technology businesses, the Infusion Technology Center which will offer 8-stories of laboratory and technology space, live-learn space for undergraduate students, the University of Florida Innovation Academy which will host a university undergraduate programme for entrepreneurial-minded students in addition to graduate housing, restaurants and other social facilities.