The future Besòs innovation district in Barcelona

Ramón Gras. Boston. Researcher in urban planning and city science at Harvard and co-founder of Aretian Urban Analytics and Design.

What can be learned from turning Massachusetts’ decaying urban-industrial fabric into a successful innovation ecosystem?

The regeneration of Boston’s industrial fabrics has spawned the world’s most powerful innovative ecosystem

The former industrial district of Cambridge, Massachusetts was the space designated by President John F. Kennedy to house the NASA campus. After his murder, recently studied in the excellent documentary JFK: Destiny Betrayed, Lyndon Johnson moved the aerospace center project to Texas. Kendall Square remained in a state of semi-abandonment for decades, becoming a moonscape, poorly developed and dangerous. The plan sustained during the last quarter of a century to regenerate urbanistically and economically the area sheltered by MIT, the Charles River and Harvard, has made it possible to design and forge the most important innovation district in the world.

Ramon Gras

Barcelona Global

The network of centers for applied research, innovation, knowledge transfer and startups establish a stable link between the academic world and industry verticals in sectors such as artificial intelligence, engineering and design, biomedicine and robotics, and They constitute an ecosystem that operates like clockwork, to the point that today Kendall Square is a pole of attraction for global talent of the highest order, and sets an example for other innovation districts around the world.

How can this regeneration be transferred to the Besòs area?

A model of harmonious polycentrism can activate the eleven economic sectors that present a global comparative advantage

The Besòs area of ​​Barcelona has the potential to become the city’s leading innovation district. The urban legacy of late Francoism makes it impossible for the 750 companies that currently operate in it to achieve this milestone under current conditions. The recent Masterplan project presents the drawing of an urban design characterized by a harmonious polycentrism with fractal morphology that would allow the regeneration of the Bon Pastor and La Mercedes, Torrent de l’Estadella, Montsolís, and La Verneda estates.

The project has identified that of the 1,089 active research fields in universities aimed at promoting the field, 325 applied research fields from 11 different fields of knowledge present potential for tangible economic impact if synergies are established with the 5 big industries (robotics and robotics). advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, UrbanTech, AgriTech, among others) and 163 subsectors that have a global comparative advantage and strategic smart fields of specialization. A network of strategically located innovation centers would enable the regeneration that can once again position Barcelona at the forefront of knowledge, talent and opportunities for its citizens.

Barcelona Global

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