Technology Parks (a term covering also Science Parks, Research Parks, and Innovation Centers) offer the simplest way to plan innovative clusters. There are many definitions of Technology Parks, but most agree on the presence of some main components (see the Diagram).
For the International Association of Science Parks, a SP is defined by four main elements:
– It is a property based initiative;
– Has formal operational links with a university, Higher Education Institution or major centre of research;
– It is designed to encourage the formation and growth of knowledge based businesses and other organizations, normally resident on site; and
– It has a management function that is actively engaged in fostering the transfer of technology and business skills to the organisations on site.
For the Association of University Research Parks, a TP covers existing or planned land and buildings designed primarily for private and public research and development facilities, high technology and science based companies, and support services, having
– A contractual and/or formal ownership or operational relationship with one or more universities or other institutions of higher education, and science research.
– A role in promoting research and development by the university in partnership with industry, assisting in the growth of new ventures, and promoting economic development.
– A role in aiding the transfer of technology and business skills between the university and industry tenants.
The European Commission introduced a differentiation among the various planned clusters:
– A research park is usually located close to one or more universities or similar academic and research institutions. Its emphasis is on research rather than development and the key is academic/research liaison at the leading edge of science and technology. Normally production plants are precluded.
– A technology park is a development to accommodate companies engaged in the commercial application of high technology, with activities including R&D, production sales and servicing. It is distinguished from science and research parks because of a greater emphasis on production. Academic involvement is also essential. Technology parks meet the specialised location requirements of high-technology companies, but they offer a higher proportion of non-production to production space. The emphasis is on the proximity of high-technology companies engaged in similar operations. There may be restrictions on tenants, and a requirement that they exhibit some high-tech activity.
– An innovation centre is a facility catering the needs of predominantly new businesses engaged in the development and marketing of new technological products and services. The purpose of an innovation centre is to promote the setting-up of high-tech businesses with high market risk. The services provided include advice on finance, marketing, technology, and technical services as well.
– A business incubator is a place where newly created firms are located in a rather limited space. Its aim is to increase the chance of growth and rate of survival of these firms by providing them with modular building facilities, common technical facilities, and with managerial support and back-up services. The main emphasis of incubators is job creation and local development, but the technology orientation is often marginal.
Source: Komninos, N. (2002) Intelligent Cities: Innovation, knowledge systems and digital spaces, London and New York, Spon Press.