Accenture Helps Spur Innovation District Initiative’s Momentum

The Innovation District Initiative (IDI) was created to explore the feasibility of applying the innovation district model in Washington, DC, to drive economic growth, diversify DC’s economic base, develop an inclusive economy and promote regional cooperation.

“This effort is to broaden the economic footprint of the District and to diversify our economy, particularly in the areas of technology,” said FC2 CEO and Executive Director Anthony Williams at the FC2 2017 Annual Meeting Dec. 5. “It could be biotech, it could be cybersecurity, but how do we give this a particular moment and a particular place?”

To further IDI, the Federal City Council (FC2) will examine the potential benefits of an innovation district through a pro bono partnership with Accenture. Marty Rodgers, Accenture’s DC managing director, an IDI Advisory Board member and FC2 trustee, helped secure this critical partnership.

“We’re grateful to Marty Rodgers and Accenture for their generous pro bono contributions to advance this important work,” says Kevin Clinton, FC2 COO. “This assessment will allow us to measure the viability of an innovation district in DC.”

As the FC2 explores the viability of a DC innovation district, the Accenture assessment will serve as a foundational appraisal of the city’s needs and potential benefits of the enterprise. It also will inform conversations with stakeholders about how such a district could be structured to benefit DC.

The four main components of the Accenture assessment include a review of the research on DC’s economic base, an examination of the region’s economic sectors, an appraisal of its core research assets and an evaluation of ways in which an innovation district could enable inclusive economic prosperity.

Based on IDI’s current research, including a review of models that have succeeded in other cities globally, stakeholders believe that DC has underperformed as an innovation hub. The District lacks a deep bench of CEO mentors who have built and grown companies here, a strong network of funders and venture capitalists, and a top engineering school that is well integrated into the start-up ecosystem.

Studies of successful innovation districts reveal that anchor institutions build momentum and an innovative culture. Stakeholders believe that a satellite engineering campus in DC could not only act as an anchor institution, but could help address critical gaps in the DC labor market, spur innovation and strengthen the start-up culture in the city.