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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium Keynote Address I Introduction Mary Good University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy Dr. Good of the National Academies STEP Board, welcomed the audience and expressed her honor and delight in welcoming Senator Jeff Bingaman to deliver a keynote address. She said she had worked with the senator for many years, describing him as a staunch friend of science and technology. “For many of the issues we talk about today, where we’ve had some good luck at the federal level, if you pull back the rug a little, you’ll almost always find Jeff Bingaman involved somewhere in that endeavor.” Senator Bingaman, she said, truly understands that sustained federal investment in science and technology is essential to ensure the future of American innovation, and to maintain a competitive economy with high-wage job production. In particular, he had played a major role in the passage of the American Competitiveness Act, which recognized investments in innovation as a national priority, and urged continuing work to move the Act from the authorization stage to the appropriation stage. She further praised his understanding that science-driven economic development is a major component of national security, in addition to the more explicit role of science in underpinning defense technologies. She noted that Senator Bingaman, as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had written numerous bills to move the nation toward energy security by spurring innovation in renewable and environmentally friendly technologies. Most relevant to the topic at hand, she said, is his sponsorship of the Science Parks Administration Act, which is designed to strengthen the nation’s science park infrastructure and establish a science park venture capital program.
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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium Jeff Bingaman United States Senate Senator Bingaman (D-New Mexico) described his state’s significant participation in research parks. New Mexico has five science parks which, as of March 2007, employed more than 2,600 people in well-paying, high-technology jobs representing about 105 organizations. The capital investment in these parks amounted to nearly half a billion dollars—a figure, he said, that is expected to grow. He said that his attention was first drawn to science and technology parks when he visited several well-known parks that had been established in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and India. He was struck by the commitment of the regions to their parks and the economic success generated by businesses in the parks. For example, he attributed Taiwan’s high standing in the global marketplace largely to the success of its Hsinchu Science Park, which was established in 1980. As of 2004, the park held more than 100,000 technically trained people, two major universities, 385 companies, and six national laboratories. It generated gross revenues of more than US$32 billion, according to government figures. Taiwan has more recently built parks in the central and southern parts of the country as well, and gross revenue from all three parks is projected to exceed $66 billion per year. He said that in Hong Kong, the government has invested nearly half a billion dollars to construct ten buildings in its park, holding more than one million square feet of office and laboratory space. Among the topics emphasized in the park are integrated circuit design, photonics, biotechnology, and information technology. In 2005, he visited Hyderabad and Bangalore in India and witnessed the success of the research parks there, especially those focused on software design. India was then supporting more than 1,000 companies in 44 software parks. At Infosys, perhaps the most successful software development company in India, he asked the CEO to explain the hiring process. During the previous year, the company received 1.2 million applications for jobs. They gave all applicants a standardized test, reducing the number to 300,000, then interviewed 30,000 of them and hired only 10,000. “That,” commented the senator “is a select group of people.” SOME COMMON FEATURES OF PARKS Science parks now exist in most parts of the world, but with many different structures. Nonetheless, said Senator Bingaman, they do share some important common features. First is a government commitment to provide a first-class infrastructure capable of accommodating different levels of science-based companies. Second, parks try to bring together companies of similar interests so they can mutually reinforce one another along the supply chain. Third, many encourage a system of “one-stop shopping” for companies that need basic services and inven-
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Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices, Report of a Symposium tions, providing assistance in streamlining government approvals and systems for loans and loan guarantees. Fourth, parks usually provide tax incentives, generally waiving them completely during the early years when capital expenditures are high. NEW LEGISLATION ON S&T PARKS In many countries, the success of parks depends heavily on the participation and commitment of government at every level. To increase this commitment at the federal level in the United States, the senator introduced the Science Park Administration Act in 2004 to create mechanisms for more effective science parks. He reintroduced the bill in 2005, joined by Senator Bunning of Kentucky, and in the present Congress, Senator Pryor of Arkansas has taken the lead, with Senator Bingaman as co-sponsor. “Many countries have been able to use the mechanism of S&T parks to greatly advance their technological capabilities,” concluded Senator Bingaman. “We have not given it nearly the emphasis of other countries. I would like to see the federal government provide more assistance to states that want to make research parks a priority.”