Urban Insight
helps transform distinct urban geographies into thriving innovation districts

what we do

Urban insight

Innovation districts

In a changing economic landscape, where innovation is increasingly collaborative, “open,” and convergent, cities are now able to leverage their unique assets and advantages—density, proximity and accessibility—to cultivate the pooling of innovative clusters and sectors at the hyper local scale. These compact, innovation-laden, and place based innovation ecosystems are called innovation districts.

Yet leveraging distinctive economic, physical, and leadership assets to grow and cultivate innovation districts requires a new level of intentionality. Urban Insight is a new company dedicated to helping cities and other areas devise an entirely new kind of roadmap—one that is grounded in empirical analysis, thoughtful and reflective of local strengths, and infuses creative strategies to help people and firms flourish.

Led by Julie Wagner, co-author of the Brookings Institution research paper, The Rise of Innovation Districts, Urban Insight is now working with a select set of cities, local not-for-profit organizations, and companies to devise creative strategies for emerging geographies of innovation.


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Geographies of innovation

Julie Wagner is the President of Urban Insight. Julie is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution and a visiting scholar with ESADE Business School’s Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics.

Julie was the primary author of the following research on innovation districts:

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Julie has written articles on the new geography of innovation for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, Quartz, and The Guardian.

Since 2014, Julie has traveled to cities and regions globally to help leaders and communities understand these emerging trends. As global thought leader on the subject, she is regularly asked to speak at highly visible and influential events and help local stakeholders devise strategies for advancing their emerging innovation district. Her work has also extended into master planning, where she has designed the economic underpinning of impressive plans for rising cities. In 2017 and early 2018 alone, Julie has engaged with local leaders in the following cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, the Hague, London, Melbourne, Milan, Mountain View (Silicon Valley), Rotterdam, Sheffield, and Sydney.

Julie Wagner - Urba Insight

She has also trained numerous European cities on how to design public involvement strategies for large-scale urban projects. She is the author of a European Commission handbook on the topic, which was subsequently translated into six languages.

A trained city planner, Julie served as a deputy planning director for the District of Columbia where she developed the city’s long-range plan, orchestrated the development of plans for more than one hundred neighborhoods, and managed all controversial land use disputes. She also designed a library revitalization strategy with the District of Columbia Library Board of Trustees.

Wagner earned a Masters in City Planning from MIT and holds a Bachelors in Organizational Communication from Northeastern University. Julie has received several planning awards from MIT and the American Planning Association for her work. She was trained in conflict resolution and police mediation.

Where we are

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We influence worldwide with a base in Switzerland

URBAN INSIGHT SAGL Via Magatti 1 6900 Lugano Switzerland

Contact us

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connect with urban insight

To learn more about Urban Insight, email Julie Wagner at jwagner@urbaninsight.co or connect with Urban Insight at info@urbaninsight.co.

You can also send a direct message using the form below.