Innovation Districts, Thought Leadership, and Economic Development.

Spark Growth consults across three primary areas. Depending on your reference point these may look very similar or completely unrelated.

Innovation Districts


An Innovation District is a geo-specific territory composed of people and places, defined by its authentic culture. An innovative district capitalizes on the assets that are available from within the community, and the creative collisions that happen spur an environment where innovation is able to occur freely.

Successful leadership works to cultivate this culture of collaboration and engagement, sense of sharing, common goals and belonging. As new narratives and structure emerge, a tipping point is approached within the community that becomes a magnet for entrepreneurs and businesses and for attracting and retaining capital and talent.

Innovation Districts are talked about more as self-contained economic development centers within a defined area of a city rather than city-wide Smart Cities infrastructure projects.

Components: Pilot projects, agile strategies, trust building, multigenerational live, work, play – age friendly, public/private partnerships, thrive, transformative, safe civic spaces, density, cluster, serendipity, new narratives.

Sara Hand, executive director of Spark Growth, speaks to the importance of collaboration at the 2015 Strategic Innovation Summit on the campus of Harvard University.Photo: Griffin Greenberg

Thought Leadership


Thought leadership is expressed by insight gained through a body of work done by an individual or team over time and connected to passion and purpose. In a time where thought leadership is being parlayed as a brand position or a content marketing curation policy, we believe that true leadership has never been more necessary than today. Thought leadership is not a role or a position you can hold or simply take on through a webinar or weekend retreat, it is who you are.

Because we believe that In a rapidly changing and information rich world, insight is invaluable and context is critical. Spark Growth brings together a collection of global thought leaders each year to explore new ideas together and find opportunities to collaborate on interesting challenges. We work on a variety of Economic Development projects, employing a toolset of Agile Strategies to help grow people, businesses and communities.

Components: New renaissance, navigating change, agile strategy, collaboration, innovation, global context, new models

Economic Development


Economic Development fosters the creation of wealth by connecting together people, ideas and capital to create value in the marketplace. There are a variety of ways to measure this value including number of startup businesses, increased jobs, return on investment through attracting business expansions, and a variety of other metrics.

There are many different activities that may accomplish Economic Development objectives. Fostering entrepreneurial activity such as startups and business incubation are powerful ways to make economic growth happen at the local level. Another way is to attract business expansions from other places – domestic and international. The process of bringing expanding businesses to the local market is called Soft Landings, as defined by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). Please take a look at our Soft Landings Business Expansion Services, which are fashioned after the InBIA global model.

Although economic development activity is typically tied to a particular geographic area such as a metropolitan region, that geography may be further defined by the Scope of Work that an entity may choose to work within. On a smaller scale than the entire metro area, Innovation Districts development often focuses on providing a more localized economic impact. There may be multiple Innovation Districts within a given metro area, and each Innovation District in turn focuses on economic development activity in a place-specific way by creating community-authentic solutions. See our Innovation Districts Development Services for more information on how creating these live-work-play spaces can have a positive impact on your region.

Components: symbiotic, open, agile systems attract capital and talent. Result is increased jobs, wages and GDP. Multi-layered, primordial soup, climate for growth, Access to resources, bottom up and top down, entrepreneur pipeline, main street gardening, cultivating vs. recruiting, expansion vs.relocation

Connecting the dots to Spark Growth:

We grow people, businesses and communities.