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 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, multi-generational 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 rapidly changing and information rich world, insight is invaluable and context is critical.

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.

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. This value may be measured in startup businesses, increased jobs, return on investment to attract business expansions and a variety of other metrics.

Although economic development activity is typically tied to a geography, that geography is defined by the Scope of Work that an entity may choose to work within, which in turn may contain multiple Innovation Districts. Each Innovation District in turn focuses on economic development activity in a place-specific way.

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.