Thesis Title
Physical conditions for the development of startups within urban innovation districts: Facilitating or stimulating?



Innovation districts are more and more seen as the answer of cities to the ever changing economy. They can as well be described as urban strategies for economic development and urban competitiveness. Around the world innovation districts pop up and seem to provide the perfect and required environment for an innovation ecosystem to which talent and businesses are attracted. Katz and Wagner define these districts as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start- ups, business incubators and accelerators” (2014, p.1). In theory, the success of urban innovation districts relies on the balance of three types of assets: physical (buildings, parks, plazas), networking (events, workshops) and economical (start-ups, businesses, shops) assets (Katz and Wagner, 2014). Research shows that dense, inner-city locations combine a critical mass of human capital, vital physical conditions, the right amenities and different sorts of proximity for knowledge exchange that enable businesses to innovate and grow (Morrison, 2014). It is in these districts that working, living and recreating fade off and that horizontal networking between a diversity of people is becoming increasingly important for innovation. Entrepreneurs and start-ups are considered economical assets in this respect and are crucial players in such districts as they tend to influence economic and job growth. Although they often lack the skills and experience, lack of finance, resources and means needed to do the job, they inhibit a great potential to drive and sustain innovation (Nguyen, 2016). To open up the benefits startups can provide, it is essential to understand how urban innovation districts can contribute to the development of startups. This research therefore focuses on the physical conditions innovation districts should provide and how these can facilitate and stimulate their development. This is investigated on in this research by a qualitative comparative case study within the planned Central Innovation District The Hague.