Does Built Environment Matter for Innovation? A Quantitative Study of the Physical Assets of Innovation Districts in the United States

A growing number of leaders, policy makers, developers, city influencers, and researchers are working on unleashing the concealed economic potential of cities. “Innovation District” is a recent urban model that has emerged as the result of the U.S. economy’s transformation from traditional industrial economies to the knowledge-intensive. The distinguished built environment characteristics of “Innovation Districts” are density, walkability, land use mix, and enhanced transit accessibility. They are identified as the contributors to the innovation-driven economic prosperity through business clustering, creative economy, and regional economic resiliency. A large body of theoretical and qualitative studies have sought to shed a light on the concept of Innovation District. There is, however, a lack of quantitative evidence that support these studies. This national study seeks to fulfill this gap in the literature and examine the relationship between the built environmental characteristics, such as walkability, transit quality and urban form, and innovation generation at the neighborhood level. The authors used Multi-level Modeling (MLM) to account for the built environment characteristics at both neighborhood and regional levels. Accounting for economic and socio-demographic cofounding variables, the authors found that innovative firms tend to locate more in dense, pedestrian-friendly, and transit accessible neighborhoods. The authors also found that a typical neighborhood in a compact region is more attractive for innovative firms than a sprawling region. The findings confirm the significance of urban form and its physical features on the notion of Innovation Districts theorized by previous studies.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADB50 Standing Committee on Transportation Planning Applications. Alternate title: Does Built Environment Matter for Innovation? Quantitative Study of Physical Assets of Innovation Districts in the United States.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Hamidi, Shima
    • Zandiatashbar, Ahoura
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2017


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 96th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01629526
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 17-05704
  • Files: PRP, TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 20 2017 9:23AM