Ms. Jane Davis of the Manchester Science Park noted that the impact of a research park is related to its scale relative to the local economy, available resources, and public expectations. Even relatively modest research parks, if adequately resourced and ably led, can have a major impact on a small community.
An innovative cluster is more than the sum of its capital investments. Describing the case of Singapore, Dr. Yena Lim noted that the government has over the long course built a strong education system, raising the value of learning and rewarding scientific and engineering excellence. Human capital, in terms of education and skills training, a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, and the presence of networks among professionals all contribute to an indigenous capacity to innovate. A well-designed and supported research park can then capitalize on these investments.
In her concluding remarks, Dr. Mary Good reflected on the acceleration in the pace of planning and development of research parks around the world. Time and patience are important, she observed, “but we have heard an undercurrent of urgency from essentially all of the participants.” She noted further that sovereign states have decided to front-load economic development and to lean on their state-supported universities to contribute to national economic development of new technology-based companies.
Research parks are clearly a key element of economic development today, and we need to learn from others and adopt and adapt those lessons to the United States, just as other countries are adapting what they see as positive lessons from the U.S. experience.
“If we can look at what we’ve learned here today and disseminate it quickly, we can do some good.”
Dr. Mary Good, University of Arkansas
Research parks in the United States can and must flourish beyond today’s few dominant centers of science and technology expertise. This is a message, affirmed Dr. Good, which needs to be heard by governors and state legislatures around the nation. We need to capitalize on and support innovation around more of our universities throughout the country, she said, for the United States to continue to be as visible or viable in the next 50 years as we have been in the past 50 years.