Austin ponders innovation district near medical school

Nov 6, 2013
Austin American Statesman

As the University of Texas prepares to break ground on its medical school, Austin officials are planning how to leverage that investment into an even bigger job creator than the medical school would become on its own

Today, officials from Massachusetts will share their experience with the Kendall Square Innovation District that transformed waterfront land into a mixed-used community that has added more than 4,000 new jobs in 200 new companies over the last three years

Austin’s new medical school district doesn’t have waterfront acreage — Waller Creek not withstanding. But the idea — and that’s all it is right now — is to encourage start-up companies to locate near the confluence of a new medical school, teaching hospital, the university and the development of Waller Creek

“The innovation district represents an enormous opportunity for Austin to build on its reputation as a center of innovation, leadership and economic prosperity,” said Austin chamber chair-elect Jack McDonald, CEO of Silverback Enterprise Group. “The innovation district is one of the most important initiatives Austin has seen in decades.”

It also could require the cooperation of the state of Texas as early maps of the concept show part of the innovation district being located along San Jacinto Boulevard where the Capitol complex now has several parking garages

Using that land, however, would require the state to construct new parking with proposed state office buildings inside the Capitol complex. And that would require action by the Legislature

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who spearheaded the medical complex proposal, is a proponent of the innovation district as part of his Ten Goals in 10 years for improving health-care in Austin

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