(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a two-part series examining two complementary initiatives based in Nashville. They are the Global Action Platform and oneC1TY.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
As an individual for whom Nashville has been a second home for decades, I was somewhat familiar with the Global Action Platform (GAP), an organization known for, among other things, an annual global summit in November in Music City.
We were also aware of oneC1TY, a new complex on Charlotte Pike just west of the downtown area that, when completed, will have one million square feet of office space plus a hotel and an apartment complex.
What we did not fully understand was exactly how integrated the Platform and the campus are. The former, Global Action Platform (GAP), is the resident trusted “collective impact” platform at oneC1TY working to connect business, university, government, and investors in advancing the emerging innovation economy of Middle Tennessee. The latter, oneC1TY, is a 20-acre development by Cambridge Holdings of Dallas that provides the place and real estate expertise to develop the facilities and concentration of businesses needed for an innovation hub.
We first met Scott Massey, the articulate Vanderbilt University graduate and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GAP, while still at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He and the late Kitty Moon Emery, a well-known Nashville business and civic leader and GAP Chief Operating Officer, were working on the first stage of the Platform’s programs. They had some far-reaching, innovative ideas, so it made sense that they would explore how the Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab could be a key contributor.
Fast forward to 2018, and the vision that began in 2012 has reached a pivot point.
“We’ve done five years of research and programming and worked with over 400 of the world’s leading experts on food, health, and economics,” Massey says. “With this knowledge base and a strong local, national, and international leadership network now in place, we’re turning our attention more to action – to applying the knowledge we’ve build to real world solutions.”
To fully appreciate the foundation that has been laid for the vision that exists, one needs to rewind to 2012 when two distinct events occurred.
“A group of community leaders wanted to encourage greater university-business collaboration and to increase the impact of the region’s great research universities on the economic development of Nashville and Middle Tennessee,” Massey explained. At the time, he was President and CEO of TMI, an organization that worked with the Council on Competitiveness and several colleges on multiple university-business strategies, including, for example, the Indiana Innovation Agenda in 2010.
“I was encouraged to return home to create a neutral university-business platform for Nashville, where we have a major research university cluster” Massey said. “At the same time, while laying the foundation for GAP, I was introduced to Ryan Doyle who was putting together the real estate and plans for the development that became oneC1TY.”
The two “hit it off immediately,” in Massey’s words. “Having a mixed-use development and physical space for a university-business platform is a proven formula for increasing regional economic growth – just look at Cortex, SkySong, Red Hook, Innovation Park and the whole movement around innovation hubs spearheaded by ‘The New Localism’ started by Bruce Katz.”
So, from the outset, GAP and oneC1TY were aligned and have worked closely together since 2012. Now with the campus open, the two share office space and are exploring new ways to increase their collaboration to create the innovation culture of the campus and the broader region.
It’s all about innovation and collaboration, something Massey describes as “creating events, activities and programs to stimulate an ecosystem of innovation and an innovation agenda for oneC1TY and the community.”
A few models for what the group visualized six years ago include:
- The Cortex Innovation Community, a 200-acre hub and technology district in an historic section of St. Louis that was founded in 2002 with a focus on bioscience and technology research, development and commercialization;
- SkySong, a 1.2 million square foot mixed-use complex launched in 2005 in Phoenix that is also known as the Arizona State University Innovation Center; and
- 16 Tech, a 60-acre creative community in Indianapolis that houses makerspace, co-working space and research and wet labs, generous greenspace and event space
NEXT: More about the programs and vision.