Communities & Actors Communities & Actors

Contacts Contacts

Latest News Latest News

Coming soon

Related Links Related Links

Science Parks Science Parks

What are Science Parks?

Science and technology parks (STPs) are very common instruments used by regional and national authorities for regional development. Their main objective is to foster science-based growth poles to stimulate economic diversification away from declining industries. Today, STPs are present in many European regions. They concentrate a wide range of innovative companies and research organisations, and as a consequence the overall knowledge intensity of these places is very high. STPs are thus likely to include seeds for the domains of knowledge-intensive specialisation, on which regions can rely to increase their competitiveness. This is why STPs seem well placed to play a key role in innovation strategies for smart specialisation (S3).

We can infer five key elements that characterise STPs:

  1. A localised economic development goal;
  2. A focus on fostering science-industry relationships;
  3. A priority placed on innovative and technology-based activities;
  4. The provision of value-added services to companies;
  5. A property-based initiative.
References

Nauwelaers, C., Kleibrink, A. and Stancova, K. (2014). The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation Strategies. S3 Policy Brief Series, No. 08/2013. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for prospective Technological Studies, Spain.

European Commission (2014). Setting up, Managing and Evaluating EU Science and Technology parks. AN Advice and Guidance Report on Good Practice. DG for Regional and Urban Policy, REGIO DG Unit G1-Competence Centre: Smart and Sustainable Growth. Belgium.

How do Science Parks affect S3 strategies?

Innovation strategies for smart specialisation are integrated, place-based economic transformation agendas. S3 is a dynamic and evolutionary process grounded in an entrepreneurial discovery process where governments facilitate and orchestrate discussions with partners across quadruple helix. In fact, S3 requires all stakeholders located in the territory being engaged in the preparation and implementation of the strategy. S3 thus offers a great opportunity, yet responsibility for STPs to shape the future of their home region or country.

Three key roles for Science Parks in the design and implementation of smart specialization strategies are:

  1. STPs may provide an adequate innovation ecosystem for the development of pilot innovation initiatives, well in line with the entrepreneurial discovery process that should drive the regional economies towards new, distinctive and competitive areas of activities.
  2. STPs can play an important role as one of the relevant stakeholders forming the quadruple helix of innovation actors shaping smart specialisation strategies.
  3. STPs can add the needed external and outward-looking dimension to smart specialization strategies, a dimension that is today still very much under-developed.
  4. The role of STPs is demanding in the context of S3: new and distinctive, regionally based competitive activities are often likely to be found at the intersection of sectors and clusters, rather than within traditional sectors. In this understanding, STPs are promoters of "related diversification".
References

Nauwelaers, C., Kleibrink, A. and Stancova, K. (2014). The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation Strategies. S3 Policy Brief Series, No. 08/2013. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for prospective Technological Studies, Spain.

What is the rationale?

Stakeholder involvement in S3 builds on the idea of quadruple helix, which refers to government institutions, universities and research organisations, industry and civil society as key actors in innovation ecosystems (Carayannis and Campbell 2009). The role of STPs in the regional quadruple helix is likely to differ according to three elements:

  • Density of the regional innovation ecosystem: in denser ecosystems and/or more developed regions, STPs are more likely to be only one amongst many legitimate stakeholders participating to the S3. At one extreme, STPs may deliver most innovation services themselves, acting like regional innovation agencies, or, at the other extreme, be a small operator within a range of powerful bodies and agencies with whom they need to coordinate. In between the two extremes, STPs can also sometimes take a role of orchestrators of a regional/national network of service providers.
  • Scope and scale: smaller STPs may not get a sufficient level of visibility and legitimacy to play an important role in the quadruple helix. In regions where several STPs are present, complementarity and joint efforts are required to enhance their effectiveness.
  • Institutional linkages with regional authorities: when STPs benefit from regional public funds, either structurally or on a project basis, they are likely to have more direct and more in-depth interactions with regional policy-makers and other constituencies in charge of S3.
References

Carayannis, E. G. & D. F. J. Campbell (2009), "'Mode 3' and 'Quadruple Helix': Toward a 21st Century Fractal Innovation Ecosystem", International Journal of Technology Management, 46(3/4), 201-234.

Nauwelaers, C., Kleibrink, A. and Stancova, K. (2014). The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation Strategies. S3 Policy Brief Series, No. 08/2013. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for prospective Technological Studies, Spain.

New role for Science Parks in smart specialisation era

To support smart specialisation strategies, science and technology parks should act as boundary openers at several levels:

  • Internal to STPs: They can foster unique and innovative combinations between the assets present in the park, but also in the regional environment;
  • Inter-regional and international: STPs can activate their international networks to reinforce the external connectivity of S3;
  • Inter-sectoral: STPs can foster linkages and related variety between sectors and clusters where a critical mass already exists.

This creates a new agenda for STPs, which will require the development of sound strategic skills for STP managers. In particular, this involves:

  • A vision geared towards economic value creation and innovation ecosystem support, seeing STPs as "smart innovation intermediaries" rather than as real estate managers only;
  • The adoption of a long-term perspective in the delivery of services and the definition of priorities in the STP strategy;
  • Filling an important gap in terms of monitoring and evaluation of STP actions, seeking to achieve outcomes such as: improvements in the ecosystem that are linked to the STP’s activites; additional value creation thanks to “STP effects” (thus taking into account any displacement effects); long-term sustainability and the capacity of attracting private funding for the STP.

Ultimately, when all favourable conditions are met, STPs have the potential to play an important transformative role in regional economies in line with the ambition of smart specialization strategies.

A critical avenue for further research and experimentation relates to the development of suitable indicators to track the effective contribution of STPs to smart specialisation. This goes much beyond the evaluation of the 'success' of STPs according to their own objectives, even if this is the primary point of attention for STP managers and funders. It requires a capacity to understand the additional effects of STPs in terms of generating new knowledge-intensive businesses and lines of activities, as well as the quality of internal and external connections generated by the innovation actors connected to the park.

References

Nauwelaers, C., Kleibrink, A. and Stancova, K. (2014). The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation Strategies. S3 Policy Brief Series, No. 08/2013. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for prospective Technological Studies, Spain.

Events Events

1st SMARTER Conference on Smart Specialisation and Territorial Development

The First SMARTER Conference on Smart Specialisation and Territorial Development was co-organised by the S3 Platform and the Regional Studies Association

Macro-Regional Innovation Week: At the crossroads of three European Macro-Regions: Danube, Adriatic-Ionian and Alpine

The Macro-Regional Innovation Week intends to focus on the exchange of best practices and knowledge among local and international policy and decision...

KETs for Regional Growth: Synergies between Horizon 2020 and ESIF

Synergies with other EU, national or regional programmes are encouraged in Horizon 2020 in order to stimulate the use of the new opportunities to bring...

The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, in cooperation with IASP, the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation...

KNOW-MAN

The INTERREG IVC project KNOW-MAN is dedicated to knowledge network management in technology parks.

Publications Publications

The Role of Science Parks in Smart Specialisation Strategies

08/2014 Claire Nauwelaers, Alexander Kleibrink and Katerina Stancova
Science and technology parks (STPs) are common instruments used by regional and national authorities for regional development. Their main objective is to...

Related Publications Related Publications

Setting up, managing and evaluating EU Science And Technology Parks - An advice and guidance report on good practice (May 2014)

David N E Rowe
Science and technology park (STP) activity across the EU has approximately doubled over the last 11-12 years, driven by the growth of the longer standing...