Wake Forest Drops Its Name From Innovation Quarter

Wake Forest Drops Its Name From Innovation Quarter

As the university’s relationship with downtown Winston-Salem continues to grow, Innovation Quarter announced on Feb. 13 that it was dropping “Wake Forest” from its official title. According to a press release, the decision to change the name stemmed from a desire to better represent the “diversity of the companies, institutions, students and people living, working, learning and playing here.”

Innovation Quarter is under the control of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, both a subset of the larger university and one of the most prominent institutions in the research park area, alongside the Link Apartments, Bailey Park, Wake Forest BioTech Place, Wake Downtown, Inmar Inc. Headquarters, Bailey Power Plant and the Plant 64 apartment complex. Members of the leadership team of Innovation Quarter include multiple Wake Forest Baptist Health and School of Medicine employees, as well as individuals representing real estate, development and communication efforts. 

In the past 10 years, there have been more than $300 million in capital investments put into Innovation Quarter, as reported by the Winston-Salem Journal. The redevelopment project has also been financially supported by the university since its conception, and this will not change as a result of the rebranding. 

“We are excited about the future of Innovation Quarter and Wake Forest’s presence there,” said President Nathan Hatch in the press release. “Nothing about the new branding changes the commitments that Wake Forest has made to downtown Winston-Salem. The Innovation Quarter name simply is a better reflection of the diversity of businesses, institutions and people that have become part of the district.” 

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Renamed the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in 2013, the project was originally titled the Piedmont Triad Research Park. Announced in 1998, the plan was to create a research-focused hub in downtown Winston-Salem. As reported by the Winston-Salem Journal in 2013, the research park was renamed as a way to distinguish itself from the Research Triangle Park, which is located centrally between North Carolina State University, Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill.

According to Joseph McConnell, former chief executive of Wake Forest Baptist Health, this change was made to improve the commercial standings of the brand. 

A similar effort is being made now — Innovation Quarter has revamped its website and logo with the help of Elephant in the Room, a local design firm. Beginning in 2012, Wake Forest Baptist Health also worked alongside Wexford Science & Technology to facilitate the real estate and development goals of the innovation district. 

“It was very important to build a brand that reflects the vibrancy of everything going on here currently — startups, concerts, major scientific research, food trucks, entrepreneurship — while also having an eye for the deep history and architectural identity that has existed here for decades,” said James Patterson, director of marketing and communications for Innovation Quarter, in the press release. 

As Patterson mentioned above, Innovation Quarter is home to multiple historically relevant buildings. These include renovated R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. buildings and the recently opened Bailey Power Plant. 

“While the name is simplified to reflect an increasingly broad, inclusive and diverse number of tenants and institutions, our commitment to Innovation Quarter’s mission of driving economic growth and building vibrant community remains unchanged,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, the chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, in the press release.

Alongside its economic pursuits, Innovation Quarter hosts more than 1,800 students, including those in the Wake Forest School of Medicine and undergraduates who take classes at the Wake Downtown campus. Winston-Salem State University, Forsyth Technical Community College and UNC School of the Arts also operate within the research park. 

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