The development of the Innovation Hub is a key component of Mayor Gray’s Five Year Economic Development Strategy, which identifies the creation of a shared campus for academic institutions and technology firms as a key initiative for this administration. The District of Columbia’s objectives in developing an Innovation Hub at St. Elizabeths East are to spur the creation of new technology-related businesses and jobs, to create economic opportunity at all skill levels for residents of both Ward 8 and the city as a whole, and to accelerate the diversification of Washington D.C.’s economy, reducing reliance on the federal government.
Plans for the development of the Innovation Hub feature creative ideas such as the development of an “innovation marketplace” that provides flexible, shared conference and classroom space and infrastructure to support research and technology development, business and entrepreneurship development, as well as product demonstration and commercialization activities. Activities could include business incubation and early business expansion facilities, product prototyping, small scale assembly, storage and distribution, and light manufacturing, all of which can take place within either newly constructed facilities or renovated historic buildings on St. Elizabeths East.
Attracting a university that offers educational programs and research aligned with the skills and technology needs of Washington, D.C.’s industry sectors is viewed as a crucial element in the development of a successful Innovation Hub. The responses to the Request for Expressions of Interest (“Academic RFEI”) for an Academic Anchor issued in the Spring of 2013 confirm that St. Elizabeths East offers an exceptional venue for a university or consortium of academic institutions to develop partnerships and interdisciplinary programs that build upon rapidly expanding sectors such as national security, urban resilience and sustainability, in addition to regulated industries such as energy, telecommunications, transportation, and food and drugs.
Information on interested institutions can be found here:
Anchor Technology Companies
The District of Columbia is working with three technology-related companies within the St Elizabeths East Innovation Hub as “programmatic anchor” tenants or partners.
Microsoft Innovation Center: An important component of the Innovation Hub will be the Microsoft Innovation Center (“MIC”), one of the first such facilities in North America. MICs are state-of-the-art technology facilities designed specifically to allow the District to form partnerships with local companies and provide opportunities for local technology firms and entrepreneurs to share resources and ideas, collaborate on projects, and translate these projects into commercial applications. Currently, there are over 100 MICs in 45 countries around the world; MICs are operated by local stakeholders, which may be local companies, universities or government agencies. The MIC will be branded by Microsoft, but is not a Microsoft business, subsidiary or corporate affiliate; it will be owned and operated by a non-Microsoft entity. The MIC at St. Elizabeths East is intended to support a community of entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises to successfully create and market tech-based business solutions.
Citelum US: Citelum US is a division of Citelum Group, a global leader in sustainable urban lighting. It operates 2.5 million streetlights in 22 countries on five continents. Citelum Group is a subsidiary of two Fortune 500 companies, Électricité de France (EDF) and Veolia Environment. Citelum has proposed establishing its U.S. headquarters and innovation center at the St. Elizabeths East Innovation Hub with a focus on developing cutting edge initiatives in LED lighting technology and energy efficient lighting. Citelum’s innovation center at St. Elizabeths East would also pursue academic partnerships, testing centers, workforce development programs and apprenticeship opportunities in lighting quality control and smart technology design.
VIMTrek: SmartBIM transferred its interest in serving as an anchor tenant at St. Elizabeths East to its sister company, VIMTrek, this year. VIMTrek is a company that utilizes Visual Information Modeling (“VIM”) to translate Building Information Modeling (“BIM”) into 3D visuals. VIMTrek, and its partner, Treasury Advisory Services, are interested in working with the District and the selected Master Developer to create an Innovation Center to provide office and demonstration facilities at St. Elizabeth East for BIM and VIM technologies as well as programs to train and educate students, District residents, and others in the building trades on how to use visualization tools to meet energy and security needs.
The District is leading efforts to transform the St. Elizabeths East chapel into a Demonstration Center. The community named the center the “R.I.S.E.” (REL8.INOV8.STIMUL8.ELEV8) Demonstration Center, as the Center will bridge the gap between the innovation field and local community until the development of permanent Innovation Hub space is possible. The purpose of the Demonstration Center is to build interest in the campus redevelopment by immediately drawing the surrounding community into the campus and begin to create bonds with the residents and the Innovation Hub efforts. The utilization of the chapel presents a particularly unique opportunity to kick-off the Innovation Hub efforts, as it allows the District to leverage the local community’s affinity for the chapel and simultaneously build on the excitement and interest from the Gateway DC efforts and the gateway pavilion. The completion of the redevelopment of the chapel is scheduled for Summer 2014. The District’s tech partners, including the University of the District of Columbia’s Community College and Microsoft while the permanent MIC is in development, will provide programming at the Demonstration Center. In addition, the Demonstration Center will provide flexible conference space that can also be used as temporary space/demonstration areas for the campus’ anchor technology tenants.