Indianapolis, IN

credit: 16 Tech

A new 60-acre mixed-use campus anchored by Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI). The first building is expected to begin construction in 2018. The $360 million dollar plan includes over one million square feet of incubator and startup space for new companies. 



  • Proximity and overlap of daily routine have a significant impact on the probability of serendipitous engagement and collaboration between individuals and companies. The probability of collaboration between individuals drops offs precipitously beyond a half mile within clusters and 30ft within offices. There is a 20% increase in the chance of a connection forming with every 100ft of overlap in daily routines.
  • Exploration outside the firm or department is an essential ingredient to the most innovative and productive teams. Exposure to new knowledge can ensure fuel for new ideas. Innovative employees spend nearly twice as much time out of the office or department than less innovative employees. 
  • Existing Nashville clusters do not include a high density of funded startups. Startups are scattered across the city. They have typically clustered  around co-working spaces. (Figure 1.4)
  • The scattered clusters of innovation assets across the city are a result of the cost of office space and the lack of a focus on proximity as a component of wider economic development strategy and organizational innovation strategy.
  • Our peers are developing innovation districts to maximize proximity between anchor institutions to maximize collaboration, increase network density, and improve their overall innovation capacity.
  • The public realm (i.e., public spaces, streetscapes, common spaces) is not designed to maximize connection between individuals and companies and are often not present within clusters. As an example, East Park in the East Nashville cluster has no opportunities for individuals to gather. Its primary role is to serve as an active recreation and event destination. Additionally, clusters like the Gulch have no public space in the form of parks or plazas.


  • PI1.0 Establish innovation atoll. The innovation atoll approaches the city as an innovation ecosystem. It acknowledges the unique role of each cluster while strengthening them through the creation of an interconnected network both physically and socially. Each cluster should concentrate their assets as much as feasibly possible.
  • PI1.1 Maintain a map of innovation assets. A map of innovation assets should be maintained to monitor growth, distribution, and density of assets. The resource would provide a key metric for understanding the success and failure of the startup community and effectiveness of initiatives to increase the density of startups.
  • PI1.2  Ensure efficient transportation choices. A comprehensive, convenient, and efficient transportation network is essential to ensuring exploration and collaboration between clusters. In particular transit, walking, and biking offer the highest potential for fostering meaningful serendipitous engagement and passively maintaining existing social network. 
  • PI1.3 Develop innovation pass. To further motivate individuals to explore, move between clusters, and encourage engagement within them, an innovation pass program should be developed in conjunction with co-working and other alternative workspaces within each cluster. The program would allow members to use a wide range of facilities and be eligible for limited promotions of product and services. 
  • PI1.4 Establish Innovation districts for specific objectives. Establish innovation districts around specific strategies such as healthcare IT, blockchain, or artificial intelligence to increase the density of actors around anchor companies and institutions. This proximity and density will increase the probability of meaningful and sustained collaboration.
  • PI1.5 Maximize use of public space. Each district should include a signature public space that can serve as the central meeting space for the cluster. Design guidelines should be developed utilizing latest engagement research to magnify their impact. Miller Plaza in Chattanooga’s innovation district is an example of the utilization of public space to connect the district’s ecosystem.
  • PI1.6 Recognize real estate’s role as innovation infrastructure. Real estate needs to become a part of the conversation when it comes to economic development strategy. Unconventional options and affordable strategies should be explored to increase options for office space.
  • PI1.7 Increase access to advanced manufacturing and laboratory tools. Augment existing facilities with more advanced tools through partnerships or developing independent facilities that include access to tools and training.   
  • PI1.8 Allow co-working and maker spaces to qualify for job incentives.  Qualifying jobs that are housed within co-working and maker spaces after 12 months should qualify for up to the $50,000 maximum incentive.
  • PI1.9 Make Room for Urban Manufacturing. With the push toward increasing advanced manufacturing, it is important space is available to encourage and accommodate the demand. 
  • PI1.10 Utilize the Power of the Arts. All forms of the arts are an important ingredient to the innovation ecosystem and should be incorporated within clusters. Art has the power to spark dialogue, foster engagement, offer new perspectives, and promote creativity.