UIX invites urban innovators to exchange ideas in Detroit

Claire Nelson is the director of Urban Innovation Exchange and Matthew Lewis is the managing editor of Model D. Urban Innovation Exchange is supported by Knight Foundation. All photos by UIX Detroit.

What’s next for your city?

This is the question Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX) will be asking at its first national convening Sept.  24-26 in Detroit, bringing together innovators from cities across the U.S. to share catalytic small-scale projects that are transforming neighborhoods.

What kind of small-scale projects are we talking about? Makerspaces and incubators, art parks and pop-up markets, green alleys and urban farms. Places made by and for the people who live there.

Why are small projects a big deal for cities? Increasingly, more research and reporting suggest that the implementation of small-scale projects just might have a larger potential collective impact than any single top-down approach to revitalization.

This is the story UIX has been telling over the last three years as it chronicles the growing network of innovators driving change in Detroit. And this is the conversation UIX will open to more cities, including Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minn., to share ideas and lessons across communities.

Over the course of three days, participants will convene for meaningful exchanges on three subjects: “The Art of Place,” “The Future of Food” and “The Maker Movement.” Morning forums will showcase innovative projects and open dialogue between them; afternoon site visits will take guests inside local spaces and places in Detroit. For a schedule, click here.

If you’ve been curious about Detroit’s transformation, September is the time to dive in. The entire month is jam-packed with events, culminating with Detroit Design Festival (Sept. 23-28), North America’s festival of independent design; Dlectricity (Sept. 26-27), Detroit’s nighttime exhibition of art and light presented by DTE Energy; and Meeting of the Minds (Sept. 30-Oct. 2), a global convening on the future of urban sustainability and technology.

Knight Foundation supports UIX and Detroit Design Festival, and Dlectricity is a 2013 Knight Arts Challenge winner.

UIX participants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Detroit Design Festival happenings throughout the week — including Hip Hop Architecture at University of Detroit Mercy (Sept. 24), Eastern Market After Dark (Sept. 25), and a conversation with Knight’s Alberto Ibargüen and Carol Coletta titled “Designing Cities to Accelerate Talent, Opportunity and Engagement” (Sept. 26).

Some of the people and projects you will learn about at UIX:

Urban Innovation Exchange is free and open to the public, with advance registration and fees for select site visits. For more information and registration, visit

Follow Urban Innovation Exchange for news and updates on Twitter @UIXDetroit and #UIXDET.