We conducted extensive research in partnership with the University of Chicago to create our theory of change and methodology for delivering inorganic economic growth. Our process included the study and synthesis of published literature from academia, think tanks, foundations, and government data sets. We also interviewed stakeholders and experts from the corporate, public, and philanthropic sectors from cities across the country.
We focused on five peer cities- Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle. These were chosen based on five criteria - region, population size, demographics, entrepreneurial trends, and ecosystem rankings.
Population Size│We selected cities with a population size of 4-10 million in their respective metropolitan regions. This is considered standard for mid-to-large tier cities.
Demographics│This means regions with a sizable representation of different racial and ethnic groups.
Geographical Location│We consciously sought to select cities from different parts of the country. This meant selecting cities from five regions: Northeast, Northwest, Midwest, South, and Southeast.
Sectoral Focus│Sectoral diversity is a key feature of effective innovation ecosystems. Therefore, we sought to identify cities with multiple well-functioning sectors and industries. The presence of multiple Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 company headquarters was a plus in this regard.
Ecosystem Assessments and Rankings│We also looked at existing ecosystem assessments and rankings to study how other institutions have evaluated a city’s entrepreneurial performance. Rankings were based on Startup Genome’s global ecosystem assessments, the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurial index, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We emerged with a process of creating economic and innovation engines anywhere between eight blocks to two square miles. We call these innovation districts.