In the spring of 2015, a group of 10 major Philadelphia institutions and firms — Comcast, Drexel University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, FMC, Independence Blue Cross, PECO, University City Science Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Vanguard — came together to support the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking at Brookings in undertaking an analysis of the emerging innovation district in University City and western Center City. Recognizing the extent to which this hub concentrates an outsized number of the region’s innovation assets, these leaders engaged Brookings to help them understand the area’s distinctive strengths and to identify the as-yet missed opportunities to build on them in ways that advance the district’s innovation ecosystem and improve the competitive position of the Greater Philadelphia region.

To this end, Brookings—with analytic help from Mass Economics in Cambridge, Mass.—conducted an extensive, quantitative assessment (“audit”) of the innovation district. They examined numerous data sources to understand the district and region’s research expertise, industry strengths, and entrepreneurship outcomes; wi