Welcome to the Smart Coast, a region along the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast. We are building the infrastructure and capabilities for innovation and entrepreneurship that is essential to responding to the challenges of globalization and technological progress. We envision multiple innovation locations ranging from innovation neighborhoods where we can start small and prove the concept up to larger dedicated innovation districts and ultimately linking these locations with a high-speed fiber-optic network to form the SmartCoast.
A Place for PEOPLE to Innovate!
An Innovation Location is about people and creating an environment for people to connect and interact with each other. This is done by creating great public spaces that encourage walking and biking. An Innovation Location is not about the real estate, it is not a build it and they will come commerce park.
The backbone of an Innovation neighborhood
An Innovation Neighborhood vision rests on a three key component backbone. These backbones include net zero-energy, high-capacity broadband and master planned transportation. Net-zero energy means that energy that is used there is produced there (think solar). High capacity broadband enables entrepreneurs to find out the types of things they could do in this type of neighborhood. How they could harness the connectivity to create something new and desirable and that would generate revenue to support their presence and draw employees and residents to the neighborhood. Master planned transportation is the foundation for how to get people there, move within the area and live there. This might include ride services, mass transit connections, street layouts, parking capacity and vehicle charging capabilities.
Innovation Locations Need Great Public Places
According to research conducted by the Project for Public Spaces, there are four qualities that public spaces need. They must be accessible with people engaged in activities, they need to have a good image and be comfortable and sociable - a place where people meet each other. Read more about Placemaking.
An Innovation location brings together three types of assets, physical, economic and networking. The physical asset include bike-able and walkable streets, and a combination of public and private spaces. The economic assets include anchor institutions, for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations. The networking asset refers to the relationships among and between all of the organizations, employees, residents and customers.
Where can Innovation Locations be located?
Some initial thinking and planning has begun on transforming part of mid-town Pensacola into an Innovation District. Click to see our thoughts.