New Study Finds DFW’s Innovation Economy Thriving, Identifies Drivers to Help Bolster Region’s Reputation as Hub of Innovation

The Dallas Regional Chamber, Accenture, SMU, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas release findings of a comprehensive study; provide future roadmap

DFW Regional Innovation Study | Charting Innovation >

DFW Regional Innovation Study >

DALLAS –The Dallas Regional Chamber, Accenture, SMU, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas released the results of the DFW Regional Innovation Study which provides a strategy roadmap to accelerate the growth of North Texas’ innovation economy and bolster its reputation as a hub for innovation excellence.

The study – a six-month-long research project that included stakeholder interviews and analysis of the DFW economy and other global cities — found that the region’s thriving innovation economy results from the diversity of its industries, a skilled and growing workforce, a collection of accelerators and co-working spaces, investment capital, robust academic institutions, and top-ranked arts and culture scenes. The results also suggest that there is additional opportunity to bolster the region’s reputation as a magnet for innovation into the future.

However, it notes that staying ahead of the curve in today’s digital era — with the rapid pace of change and fierce competition — requires that a successful innovation economy combine several key ingredients: growing and flooding the ecosystem with the right talent; creating areas of density for that talent to “collide” to generate creative and innovative ideas; and providing access to funding and resources to allow those ideas to flourish and scale.

The cumulative result is a more innovative economy and a place where companies and people want to call home.

“For this region to continue to be a leader in economic growth, we need to always be looking forward, taking stock of what we have and who we are, growing and empowering innovative companies and people, and creating opportunities for further impact,” said Duane Dankesreiter, Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber. “This research and these recommendations can serve as a guidebook for a path forward.”

To keep pace and ensure a thriving future, the DFW Regional Innovation Study makes recommendations for key stakeholders in the region — corporations, nonprofits, academia, entrepreneurs, investors and government — that will better enable them to maximize the region’s existing innovation strengths and drive growth, focusing on four key areas:

Core Area #1: Talent

  • Enhancing the DFW Region’s image as a hub of innovation is mission critical to attract and retain top-flight talent and high-tech firms looking to relocate.
  • To build a rich tapestry of talent in the DFW Region, it is important to support an ecosystem that grows innovative talent at all levels. The study’s recommendations focus on relentless improvement of K-4 math proficiency as a key indicator of future success, recruitment of international serial entrepreneurs to flood the ecosystem and build confidence with investors, amplifying area universities reputations as elite programs, and building a critical mass in core technologies, including artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Blockchain, and extended reality, which align with both DFW and the global market growth potential.

Core Area #2: Collisions 

  • Innovation has been proven to incubate and accelerate in areas of density. The study recommends working to define and magnify activities in areas where this is already happening (tech, life sciences and transportation) and to encourage face-to-face interactions of entrepreneurs, mentors, organizations, academics, and funders.

Core Area #3: Resources

  • Start-ups and entrepreneurs face a common dilemma: securing funding to stand-up operations or go to market. The study recommends a coordinated effort to facilitate new investment at all stages of startup capital and to build confidence in local start-ups by providing them with the resources, a toolkit and guidance to grow high-impact, high-growth companies.

Core Area #4: Impact

  • Although the DFW Region has been a magnet for corporate relocations and expansions in recent years, the study recommends that city governments and regional public/private partnerships collaborate to do even more to foster an innovation-friendly climate and to sharpen the civic focus on recruiting high-tech firms and departments of well-known innovation companies. The study also recommends supporting local governments and social entrepreneurs as they work to develop innovative solutions that can have a lasting impact on quality of life issues.

The study suggests that making these recommendations a reality will require the DFW Region form a coalition of key members from corporate, social, civic and academic institutions to drive the innovation strategy, supported by a single strategy office and presenting a united front and its collective strengths to the world.

“Our diverse economy, smart and ambitious people, growing startup community, and bustling arts and culture scenes are some of what makes innovation possible in our region,” said Jorge Corral, Dallas Office Managing Director for Accenture. “When our community comes together as one, we can be in the driver’s seat of our future. Innovation is what will fuel our growth, spark more DFW-born ideas and breakthroughs, and let the world know that Dallas-Fort Worth is where you want to live, work and make your vision into a reality.”

“The economic opportunity that Dallas provides is a major factor in recruiting ambitious, talented students to SMU from around the world,” said SMU Provost Steven C. Currall. “The entrepreneurial spirit thrives at SMU and in Dallas. This important study with our regional partners will foster a vibrant ecosystem that leverages connections between SMU research discoveries and commercial investment.”

“Social innovation is critical for sustainable economic growth, cutting across sector boundaries to create new, grassroots-based solutions to age-old community problems,” said Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Social innovation provides the unique opportunity to recognize the interconnectedness of social enterprise, business and philanthropy. We need to nurture this work, as its impact grows to better the lives of countless North Texans.”

With the completion of the study and strategy roadmap, the four groups will further engage various stakeholders to assemble a regional coalition to begin executing on the strategic actions outlined in the study.

In March, the Dallas Regional Chamber, Accenture, SMU, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas announced that the four groups had embarked on a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder study to better understand the state of the innovation climate in the DFW Region and how to be better recognized as a hub for innovation excellence. The announcement was marked by the release of the inaugural DFW Region Innovation Scorecard, which compiles global rankings to create a snapshot of how experts currently perceive the DFW Region. 

To complete this study and build the recommendations, the four-entity team spoke with more than 100 corporate, academic, social, and start-up leaders from a cross-section of regional industry interests. Focus groups were conducted with a strong representation of entrepreneurs and start-ups with corporate and civic leaders across the DFW Region to provide input. In addition, the study benchmarked other innovative cities around the world on key aspects of an innovation economy, including the ability to create stellar talent, produce disruptive ideas, and offer a dynamic quality of life to its residents. In total, the study produced more than 120 potential actions and distilled down to a curated set of the 10 biggest opportunity drivers, addressing the four core areas of Talent, Collisions, Resources, and Impact.

The full results of the DFW Regional Innovation Study can be viewed at: www.dallaschamber.org/innovation


About the Dallas Regional Chamber

The Dallas Regional Chamber is one of the most established business organizations in the nation and serves as the voice of business and the champion of economic development and growth in the Dallas Region. We work with our 1,100 member companies and regional partners to strengthen our business community by advocating for pro-growth public policies, improving our educational system, attracting talented workers from around the world, and enhancing the quality of life for all. Our goal is to make Dallas the best place in America to live, work, and do business 


About SMU

SMU is a nationally ranked global research and teaching university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in seven degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.


About the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

 United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a community-based non-profit organization that treats 360 degrees of need. For over 90 years, we have brought people and resources together to fight complex social problems by surrounding North Texas with efficient, impactful solutions. Since 2011, we’ve invested more than $147M in 200+ local programs that tackle issues across health, education and income, the essential components of a thriving community. We encourage North Texans to get involved by giving, volunteering or advocating and helping lift up those in need now and in the future. United, we help those who want to do good, do great. Learn more at www.unitedwaydallas.org.