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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium Summary* Many nations are currently adopting a variety of directed strategies to launch and support the development of research parks, often with significant financial commitments and policy support. To meet the need for a better understanding of the scope and scale of programs overseas to support the growth and development of research parks and to improve our understanding of the scale and contributions of parks in the U.S. context, the National Academies convened an international conference on global best practices in research parks. This report of that conference captures the rich discussion of the diverse roles university- and laboratory-based research parks play in national innovation systems. The presentations of the conference participants demonstrate the range of objectives and the substantial differences in scope and scale of activity characterizing research parks around the world, while also identifying common challenges. The conference included participants from countries as diverse as China, Singapore, India, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, and Hungary. They described national efforts to develop research parks of significant scale and scientific and innovative potential. They noted that in many cases, these research parks are expected to generate benefits that go beyond regional development and job creation. As these participants observed, effective research parks have the potential to contribute to regional growth by facilitating innovation and forms * Caveat: It is important to note that this summary does not represent the statements and conclusions of the NRC Committee on Comparative Innovation Policy, but simply summarizes key points raised by participants of the conference.
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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium Box A What is a Research Park? Alternatively referred to as research parks, science parks, technology parks, technopoles, science centers, business innovation centers, and centers for advanced technology, there appears to be no singular characterization of a research park. The International Association of Science Parks defines a Science Park as “an organisation managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions. To enable these goals to be met, a Science Park stimulates and manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; it facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provides other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities.”a aAccessed at <http://www.iasp.ws> on January 22, 2009. formation while enhancing the competitiveness of national firms, particularly in leading technological sectors. Research parks are seen increasingly around the world as a means to create dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth and international competitiveness. Specifically, research parks, of various sizes and types, are widely seen as an effective policy tool to realize larger and more visible returns on a nation’s investments in research and development. Most research parks seek to encourage greater collaboration among universities, research laboratories, and large and small companies, in order to facilitate the conversion of new ideas into the innovative technologies for the market.1 They are widely considered to be a proven tool to encourage the formation of innovative high-technology companies.2 They are also seen as an effective means to generate employment and to make existing companies more competitive through cooperative R&D, shared facilities, and the benefits derived from co-location.3 S&T Parks are a rapidly growing phenomenon and an increasingly common tool of national and regional economic development. They are designed to: 1 See, for example, the presentation by Dr. M. S. Ananth of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras in the Proceedings section of this report. 2 See, for example, the presentation by Zhu Shen on the Chinese strategy concerning research parks in the Proceedings section of this report. 3 See, for example, the presentation by Yena Lim on Singapore’s strategy in the Proceedings section of this report.
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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium Facilitate the cooperation that generates higher returns on existing investments in R&D and large-scale research facilities;4 Meet the special needs of high-tech industries for infrastructure and associated services;5 and Achieve critical mass in terms of co-located research facilities and staff.6 In the United States, innovative clusters and parks have developed as a result of government action and private initiatives, and in some cases around a government-funded laboratory. Research Triangle Park was built on national investments in major research universities in the Research Triangle area and has benefitted from patient state support and funding.7 The Sandia Science and Technology Park, located near Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and the NASA Research Park, located at the NASA Ames facility in California are two examples of successful research parks that advance the missions of federal laboratories and research facilities while contributing to regional economic growth and mission-related innovation.8 As a result of this success, innovation clusters, such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle (and less directly Silicon Valley), are now being emulated around the world, often on a significantly larger scale.9 The United States has led the way in park creation and the generation of high-tech clusters. Yet on a global basis, the United States is not making comparable efforts, nor are federal programs supporting regional and state efforts to the same degree.10 Investments by the world’s leading nations in research parks reflect an appreciation of their capacity to spur knowledge-based growth and a national commitment to enhance technological competitiveness through innovation.11 While research parks such as those at NASA Ames and Sandia have recorded significant progress, and new federal initiatives such as that of the National Cancer Institute are underway, the potential of research parks appears 4 See, for example, the presentation by John Niederhuber of the National Cancer Institute in the Proceedings section of this report. 5 See, for example, the presentation by Richard Stulen of the Sandia National Laboratories in the Proceedings section of this report. 6 See, for example, the presentation of Ilona Vaas of the Hungarian National Office for Research and Technology in the Proceedings section of this report. 7 See the presentation of Rick L. Weddle on the Research Triangle Park in the Proceedings section of this report. 8 See the presentations of Richard Stulen of Sandia National Laboratories and the presentation of Pete Worden of NASA Ames Research Center in the Proceedings section of this report. 9 See, for example, the remarks of Jane Davies of the Manchester Science Park, United Kingdom, in the Proceedings section of this report. She notes that U.S. research parks serve as models overseas. 10 See the keynote remarks of Senator Jeff Bingaman in the Proceedings section of this report. Senator Bingaman has previously sought to introduce legislation to support state and local efforts to develop research parks. 11 See, for example, the presentations on research park activities in China, India, Singapore, and France in the Proceedings section of this report.
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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium to be less appreciated by policymakers and the public in the United States. In the United States, support for research parks is principally undertaken by state and local governments with limited support by the federal government.12 While research parks are highly varied, the conference nonetheless captured some common elements characteristic of successful research parks. These “best practices” include the presence of: Champions: Committed champions who match sustained, high-level attention with significant support for the growth and development of a research park.13 Leadership: Effective leadership and professional management to facilitate networking among the entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, and others within and around the research park’s innovation ecosystem.14 Funding: Designated and sustained public funding and active private participation, combined with effective public policies to support companies that seek to convert ideas into innovations and innovations into products for the market.15 Bridging institutions: Such as the North Carolina Board on Science and Technology, that preserve the vision of the research park over the long period it takes for parks to mature and become successful.16 Soft infrastructure: This term captures the positive human capital built over many years of public investments in education and skills training, public policies that encourage an entrepreneurial culture, and the presence of networks among professionals.17 Metrics: Effective metrics to help management set clear goals and, over time, gauge the effectiveness of the research park.18 12 See the remarks by Prof. Phillip Phan in the Proceedings section of this report. 13 Dr. Richard Stulen drew attention to the role that effective high-level champions like Senator Bingaman have played in the growth of New Mexico’s Sandia Science and Technology Park. 14 Clear goals, capable management, and sustained support are essential for the effective development of research parks, as documented in recent reviews by the National Research Council of the research parks affiliated with the NASA Ames Research Center and Sandia National Laboratories. See National Research Council, A Review of the New Initiatives at the NASA Ames Research Center, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001, and National Research Council, A Review of the Sandia Science and Technology Park Initiative, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999. 15 In his keynote address, President Barker of Clemson University emphasized the instrumental role played by the State of South Carolina as well as private donors like BMW in providing sustained support and the scale of funding needed to provide the ICAR “instant scale and instant density.” See the presentation of James Barker in the Proceedings section of this report. 16 See the presentation by Robert McMahan in the Proceedings section of this report. 17 Describing the case of Singapore, Ms. Yena Lim noted that the government has over 40 years built a strong education system, raising the value of learning and rewarding scientific and engineering excellence. See the presentation by Yena Lim in the Proceedings section of this report. 18 See the presentations by Albert Link of the University of North Carolina and William Kittredge of the Department of Commerce in the Proceedings section of this report.