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Israeli Innovation District Partnership


The Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University has established a partnership with the Israeli National Economic Council and the Global Institute on Innovation Districts (GIID), creating a unique opportunity to develop and leverage relationships between Philadelphia innovation districts, institutions, and industries with Israeli counterparts, with Drexel as a catalyst and connector.  


The National Economic Council is part of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, coordinating efforts in the government around topics that require “comprehensive and methodological economic thinking.”  The Council has spearheaded an effort to organize innovation districts in Israel over the past several years, with specific initiatives to spur the formation and growth of innovation districts in Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem and Haifa.


The Lab developed a partnership with GIID, an independent research institute, given its mission to advance the growth and evolution of innovation districts worldwide. Bruce Katz, the inaugural director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at the Lindy Institute, is a board member of GIID, which is led by Julie Wagner. GIID was instrumental in developing the Framework for Growth strategy for the Be’er Sheva innovation district in Israel and is now undertaking a similar effort in Haifa, a city in northern Israel. Wagner and Katz co-authored The Rise of Innovation Districts in 2014.


The partnership between the NEC, the Lab, and GIID is to drive strategic global alliances between innovation districts in the US and Israel, building on distinctive sectoral advantages, connected centers of excellence, strengthened research ties, and expanded entrepreneurial and cultural exchanges. The goal of these alliances would be ambitious and unprecedented: to drive substantial economic and social impact in innovation districts over the next decade.


The work will occur over the next three years, focused on:


  • Providing on-going support to innovation districts in Israeli cities
  • Connecting Israeli innovation districts to the network of innovation districts globally
  • Developing research on the role of national governments in innovation to the benefit of US and Israeli cities.

Philadelphia’s Opportunity

  • This partnership will give Drexel a direct link with leading Israeli universities and medical hubs like Ben Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, Technion and Rambam Hospital in Haifa, and Hebrew University and Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
  • The partnership will allow Drexel to deploy its expertise around commercialization, place-making, value capture, inclusive innovation and innovation district governance.  Finally, it would put Drexel at the center of a new kind of US/Israeli philanthropy dedicated to inclusive economic growth. 
  • The work builds upon Drexel’s existing institutional and academic relationships with Israeli universities and medical centers and with institutional connections in Philadelphia’s innovation community, including the University City Science Center.