Innovation Area Development Partnership


Real estate and hospitality: inseparable!

By Daniël Mutsaers, PT Finance, partner IADP

How often didn’t we say that “if we had been involved in the process at an earlier stage, things would have looked very differently”…

Figuur 2 Daniel

As the hospitality experts of The Innovation Area Development Partnership, we are often called upon to create added value to campuses and their buildings in such a way that campus and building residents feel optimally facilitated. And too often we find out that the power of hospitality in the design phase is constantly underestimated.

Of course there is always (usually…) sufficient attention paid to ensuring enough parkings, a proper heating/cooling system, clean toilets and a trendy interior with consultation areas, for example. However, we experience that people, when equipping specific facilities, reason too much from the logical real estate mindset instead of from a more sensitive hospitality approach.

What exactly is “Hospitality?” Another trendy catch-all term is “Experience.” What it is all about is that the daily campus resident and his/her guests should feel like a fish in water. Emphasizing the word ‘feel’. That is, of course, by definition a personal interpretation. And therefore, it is difficult to interpret. On the one hand, it is all about the very small details. However, is really good coffee a small detail? Did you know that 35% of organisations do not offer their guest any coffee at all?
It is also about the heartfelt smile of the entire hospitality team.  A welcoming entrance is important, but having a strong foundation in order is also essential. For one thing, it is important that the coffee corner is situated along the walking lines from the building’s entrance, but at the same time it should breathe the intimacy of a living room. And preferably in such a way that it also combines the reception of guests. Cost optimization!

For a campus environment, the foundation is a little bit more complex than that. For example, because of the mix of different types and international campus residents, because of access regimes, which make a warm welcome difficult, and, not least, the mixture of old and new buildings. Community building support hospitality, but that needs the investment of a lot of energy. Also, the consideration between security (“a feeling of safety”) and hospitality causes campus organisations to relapse into traditional constructional solutions, instead of thinking about solutions that integrate security and hospitality.

You may think we are stating the obvious… but we would like to show you around various campuses and buildings, where people, on a daily basis, still experience obstacles from the real-estate-driven choices made during the development phase.

And then, the business model. Real estate managers are becoming increasingly and rapidly convinced of the importance of hospitality when this involves a clear profit. The sum of a higher productivity, less absence and returning customers, is not very complicated. This is especially the case when combining various hospitality functions as much as possible from the process chain in the front office

But probably even more important: committing talent to you! By facilitating a top working environment. Things that Google and Facebook have been doing for several years for their offices. In our catering tenders, we more and more often see that employers are willing to invest again in an attractive lunch concept in combination with high standard fresh-bean coffee.

These are all things that optimize the real estate value. Happy employers, because of happy campus employees, and therefore happy residents who are willing to pay a higher price per m2. The rental value ladder shows this effect:

Figuur Daniel

Our advice: involve specialists from the hospitality point of view, in a timely manner, as of the design phase. This prevents any unnecessary interventions afterwards to optimally facilitate your campus residents and guests. Substantiated by solid business cases which demonstrably pay off your investment.

Would you like more information about what IADP can add to your campus and buildings, with regard to hospitality, or would you really like us to show you around various reference buildings and projects? Please contact Paul Jansen (+31 6 535 763 99) or Daniël Mutsaers (+31 6 215 803 99), business partners at IADP.

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Innovation Area Development Partnership / Zjak Consult

Paul Jansen MSc., Innovation Area Development Partnership / Caudata

The science park concept is not static. Given the nature of the activities and the institutions it focuses on, it should not be considered likely that this would be a static concept. Until the beginning of this century this concept was predominantly viewed as a ‘stand-alone’ activity and often primarily as a real estate development. Currently, a science park (and similar concepts) are increasingly being considered as a focal point in a network of innovative companies and institutions. The management of science parks has kept up with these changes over time. New developments demand further changes. At the same time, new concepts have developed and the science park does not have the exclusive right to being and becoming a focal point of innovations.

Innovation areas

In the early stages of the development of science parks the emphasis was placed on real estate. Especially during the last three decades this has significantly changed and the primary focus has shifted to stimulating innovation. That is the first trend. A second trend is an increase in scale. As science parks have reached the limits of their growth, occasionally “branches” developed in other parts of the region, which stresses the importance of previously mentioned networking even more. One out of three members of the IASP (International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation) have two or more locations. Furthermore, those ‘branches’ can not only be found in the regions which are strongly focussed on innovation, but also at other work locations such as industrial co-innovative science parks (developed around a leading innovative company instead of a university), creative factories (creative companies under one roof) and innovation areas. The last category is relatively new and can be defined as “a designated zone with its own specific management team, whose main objectives include economic development via the promotion and attraction of selective innovative business for which specific services are provided or made available, and that may also include residential and cultural zones or facilities, or be embedded in urban spaces having such facilities, and with which the economic aspects of the area of innovation interact” (Sanz, 2016). The management of such a development is, as already was the case in science parks and co-innovative parks, still important, though functional blending is a relatively new element in this concept. The link with a university might be less strong, though can be partially overcome by having a “branch” in a different location.

Figure 1: Eindhoven region (The Netherlands) as an example of an innovative region with several focal points Eindhoven

It is important to establish the fact that the scale can vary widely. Ann Arbor SPARK (U.S.A.) covers an entire region, while 22@Barcelona is 200 ha. All the more reason to distinguish between innovative regions with multiple focal points (to illustrate this: see figure 1) and innovation districts which, in terms of scale, are comparable to co-innovation parks and science parks. Innovation area will then be the umbrella term for science parks, industrial co-innovation parks and innovation districts.

Except for the fact that innovative regions currently may have multiple focal points and a network of companies and institutions which are located in those innovation areas can be created, and companies and institutions which are located in other parts of the region must establish that these innovation areas and innovative regions are also included in the worldwide networks (telecommunication, travel options etc.) through the process of globalisation.

The figure below sketches the development over the past decades. It is an ideal-type image which will rarely apply to a specific innovation area. Figure 2 mainly shows that currently much more emphasis is placed on networks and (therefore also) on the regional embedding of an innovation area.

Figure 2: ideal development of the innovation area concept

Ontwikkleing management

Changing management

The right section of this rough sketch of the development of the concept also shows the manner in which the management of these concepts must also adapt. Often this is all covered by the common denominator “park management”, though the scope of the tasks has become much broader, or can be addressed in a much broader manner. Whereas park management originally still strongly focussed on the maintenance of the real estate, it was fairly quickly combined with making services and facilities available, and subsequently by the wish to create a ‘community’ in the park. Firstly, the attention is focused on the employees. Joint festivities, sports events and having a drink together should help to develop this. The next step (once more: in an ideal typical process) is to connect the people who work in the park as well as the companies. Match making, organising seminars, support with patent applications are all matters which are part of the extensive service package which the park management offers. Some parks take this one step further in the form of management encouraging serendipity.  Essentially it comes down to: how can people with different backgrounds be connected and collaborate, to enable new insights and ultimately new products to be developed through “pure coincidence” (serendipity)?  This may manifest itself in a building in which the concept resembles all kinds of creative work places which are popping up all over the place in which flexible, playfully designed spaces with all kinds of facilities and short lease periods are available for creative people, entrepreneurs and others. An example of this in a science park is the NetWork Oasis at the Joensuu Science Park (Finland). This concept will only become truly interesting when the idea of serendipity is combined with a method in which different researches and product developers with different characters and backgrounds are brought together. This is done via a step-by-step process including training camps and work sessions based on which teams are formed, which will then focus on the development of a new product (see Kakko, 2013). This has consequences for the management method, as shown in the table below. Not that this will make project management obsolete. The schedule shows that by including networking, and particularly from the perspective of serendipity, other skills are required from park managers and involved parties.

 Table 1: difference between project management and management of serendipity (Kakko, 2013)

Serendipity management

In line with the previously mentioned processes of increased scale, an increasing amount of attention is given to the park management organisation of the relationships with companies and knowledge institutions which are located outside the park, though in the region. Certainly in combination with the science park’s satellites, this can lead to an innovation area on a regional level.

Interdisciplinary management team

It must have become clear that buildings are no longer the main aspect of science parks and – more broadly – innovation areas, but that community and networking are essential. This distinguishes this concept from industrial parks, business parks and office parks. Which doesn’t alter the fact that ultimately the businesses and institutions located in the innovation areas also need a roof above their heads. In view of this, specific requirements can be placed on buildings, particularly from the desires for community building and networking. For instance, pedestrian flows, the creation of meeting points, concentration of catering and restaurant facilities where pedestrian flows meet, creative work environments, etc. For the successful management of a science park, it is crucial that the different layers in the social-spatial structure of a science park are recognised and are connected to: the infrastructure, the buildings and the networks. This actually makes an interdisciplinary set up of a park management team an absolute necessity.


In light of the developments outlined here, it is obvious that new innovation areas should be developed in accordance with a modern plan. This means they are embedded in the regional economy and are part of broadly set up innovation programs. All of that in an attractive spatial setting with real estate which optimally facilitates this new manner of working. This can only be successful if these developments are managed from an integral management philosophy.

It concerns not only the management, though also the nature and the design of the buildings, the quality of the surroundings and the possibilities for meetings etc. The older science parks and co-innovative parks are not sufficiently geared to do this. If they want to keep up with the increasingly faster paced developments in the area of innovations, a physical and functional redevelopment will be required, including a reorientation of the management.

Quoted literature

  • Kakko, Ilkka (2013), The Fundamentals of Third Generation Science Park Concept. Paper for the UNESCO-WTA International Training Workshop, Daejeon, Korea.
  • Sanz, L. (2016), Understanding Areas of Innovation. In Anna Nilina, Josep Pique, Luis Sanz (red.): Areas of innovation in a global world. IASP (e-book).


Room for Knowledge Development: from Science Park to Innovation District

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP)[1] / Zjak Consult

Paul Jansen MSc., Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP) / Caudata

Any services and knowledge economy includes numerous innovative companies and institutions that are engaged in research, data, knowledge and information and the acquisition and transmission thereof. For a large number of these organisations an office location is sufficient. However, when it comes to basic research – especially in terms of beta disciplines – there are often more stringent requirements. With a view to cooperation opportunities, appearance and work environment quality, some of these companies have a need for specific job site concepts that capitalize on these aspects, such as science parks and industrial campuses. Moreover, the past two decades have seen the rise of new concepts that will discussed in more detail in this paper.

 Knowledge and innovation are essential elements for most countries’ economies. With a successful innovation policy, one cannot ignore the physical environment that businesses (both large and small) require in order to successfully execute their work and ideas and generate/share knowledge, all focused on creating innovative products and services. These companies often require special buildings that may require large investments. Buildings may include offices as well as laboratories, clean rooms, small-scale (test) production units, and so on. These sites may thrive in many places, but economic researchers assume that a concentration of such buildings (and thus innovative companies) results in added value for all companies involved. Although research into these assumptions shows quite variable results, this assumed added value has resulted in a clustering of companies in numerous science parks. However, numbers are difficult to provide in the absence of a precise definition of such parks. One indicator may be the number of members of the International Association of Science Parks & Areas of Innovation (IASP; currently approx. 400.

Science Parks

When talking about the clustering of innovative companies, relatively speaking, the science park is the oldest concept. Since the rise of science parks in the early fifties, quite a few definitions have been introduced. For example, the IASP places strong emphasis on the science park as an organisation of professionals committed to exchanging information flows between companies and research institutions, promoting innovation in companies and assisting starters and spin-off businesses. However, Hansson (2004) focuses more on appearance and, on the basis of a number of definitions, concludes that science parks almost always have a university in close physical proximity, focus on knowledge and high tech companies and include a special organization that helps starters. We support the definition of the IASP. We believe science parks are primarily about stimulating innovation through well-functioning networks. Property and area development are crucial, but are nevertheless of secondary importance.

The development of science parks is a relatively recent phenomenon: of all European science parks, only 4% were established before 1980. 27% were established in the 1980s and the rest thereafter (EC, 2014). Science parks are primarily an urban or, even more so, a metropolitan phenomenon. Judging from the membership of the IASP, only 6% of parks are located outside of cities and 40% can be found in cities with well over a million inhabitants.

Two-thirds of the science parks in Europe are situated on university grounds and 17% are located no less than 5 km away from such institutions. Earlier IASP research has shown that worldwide, approx. 40% of all science parks have an on-site university or one located in their immediate vicinity. The absence of a clear link with a university may result in a relatively ineffective park (Ratinho et al., 2007). But inefficiency may also occur if the concept is not taken seriously and companies only establish themselves in such parks for their public image and appearance. Moreover, the relationship with the university is not necessarily or solely based on intense knowledge sharing between the research institute and companies based in the park. The availability of various facilities and a pool of students (interns) and graduates play a significant role and are sometimes even more important than the actual sharing of knowledge (Van Dinteren and Pfaff, 2011; EC, 2014). It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise that companies don’t solely focus on adjacent universities for knowledge sharing and co-innovation. When talking about crucial knowledge or information, these transcend the decision to establish oneself in a certain region (Weterings and Ponds, 2007). Nevertheless, it is these relationships between companies and knowledge institutions that distinguish science parks from regular business or office parks. Science park management teams (the fact that there are separate management teams is another factor that makes these parks unique) are often committed to these relationships and try to promote cooperation between individual companies and companies and universities. This allows for the creation of an informal network (‘local buzz’), resulting in substantial positive effects when creating innovation networks between local actors (Capello and Morrison, 2005). At the same time, one could write an entire book about the differences of opinion on this aspect.

Although the stimulation of networks, cooperation and knowledge sharing are essential to well-functioning area management, attention is equally paid to the creation of a community. One could consider the networks as communities, but when talking about communities, these are often less ‘strict’. Communities involve informal contact between employees, meeting each other at seminars, organizing sports events, concerts, and so on. And all this in a well-designed environment that promotes creativity.

The Industrial Co-innovation Park

Earlier parts of this paper have focused on the relationship between science parks and universities. At the same time, a science park may also develop itself around a different major research institution. For example, even a company may act as the pivot. In the latter case, it is better to speak of an ‘(industrial) co-innovation park’. Where the crystallization point in a science park is the university, in a co-innovation park this is a leading industrial company. Examples include the DSM Industrial & Biotech Campus (DSM, Delft, Netherlands), Kodak’s Eastman Business Park (Rochester, USA), the AUDI Ingolstadt site (Germany), the Luxembourg Automotive Campus (established around Goodyear’s Luxembourg Innovation Center and IEE s.a. sensing solutions) and Chemelot Campus (DSM, Sittard/Geleen, Netherlands).

Such developments are the result of company strategies, focused on co-innovation: the cooperation with other companies and institutions to develop innovative, creative solutions and products. Nowadays it has become harder for companies to keep up with changing technology, economy and markets by innovating solely by themselves. Technology in particular has become so specialised that nobody can afford to do everything at the highest level on their own. Cooperation with other companies, institutions and universities is required. To succeed, businesses must overcome their deep-seated fear of knowledge sharing. Fortunately, in many cases they were able to do so: these days, it has become popular to view cooperation with strategic partners as essential in the development of technological innovations.

Continuous innovations across organizational boundaries may lead a company to the idea of establishing an industrial co-innovation park on its site (or adjacent to it). Precondition is that the company must understand the dynamics of inter-organisational networks and develops – or has already developed  – skills in managing networks and facilitating network processes.

The practical possibilities for establishing a co-innovation park, in terms of available space, are often attributable to the downsizing of activities or excessive hectares of expansion reserve. Downsizing may partly occur by offshoring activities, but may also be related to changing production conditions. For example, these days the manufacturing of semiconductors requires less and less space.

So, setting up an industrial co-innovation park can be attractive if the leading company:

  • strongly advocates the idea of innovation and wants to innovate in close cooperation with its suppliers (open innovation or co-innovation);
  • is established in a region that has the characteristics that stimulate innovation,
  • the space required by other companies and is able to take care of the qualities that are asked for to make such a park a success.

This is not to say that co-innovation always asks for physical proximity of the firms and institutions involved, but being located in same park makes it easier to communicate. Moreover, companies situated on such integrated industrial areas may share the material supplies, utilities and services focusing on – for example – safety, quality, personnel and the environment.

Innovation Districts

A relatively new phenomenon in the field of innovation is the innovation district. In an innovation district, the cooperation between companies and institutions is still essential, but the concept differs in specific ways from the two aforementioned districts. First of all, these districts are often located inside urban areas, whereas most science parks are located on the outskirts of cities, in suburban locations. Moreover, innovation districts are often not newly developed, but are formed after a restructuring of an existing situation. As a result, an innovation district often has a mixture of purposes, including housing. In organisational terms, this often means a shift from the triple helix to the quadruple helix. And whereas science parks often place a strong emphasis on beta disciplines, an innovation district often takes a broader approach and thus offers room for a wide variety of creative industries and consulting firms. The link with a university may be less strong, but may partly be replaced with auxiliary branches. In addition, specialisation is sometimes not a key aspect of these districts. For example, 22@Barcelona focuses on four different clusters: Media, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Medical Technologies (MedTech), Energy and Design.

Similar to other districts, innovation districts have the requirements of good, dedicated management that encourages the creation of a community and networking between established companies and institutions. And compared to industrial campuses, there is often a leading company or institution (hospital, university, research institute).

Sanz (2016) describes an innovation district[2] as follows: “a designated zone with its own specific management team, whose main objectives include economic development via the promotion and attraction of selective innovative business for which specific services are provided or made available, and that may also include residential and cultural zones or facilities, or be embedded in urban spaces having such facilities, and with which the economic aspects of the area of innovation interact”.

Science parks, innovation districts and industrial innovative campuses are different concepts, especially in terms of target groups and physical form. At the same time, they show strong similarities in terms of work environment and management. Proper management – both in physical and functional terms – is a prerequisite for all three. Looking at the three districts together, they are all part of the overarching concept on an ‘innovation area’

Work Environment

Whereas during the early days of science parks the focus was often on physical development, over the years people have started to realise that science parks require a completely different approach. About two decades ago, the adage ‘brains, no bricks’ was introduced. This broke with a science park as mere property development. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that the physical environment isn’t vitally important in stimulating the process of creativity, interaction and innovation (Van Dinteren en Keeris, 2014). The importance of this is even increasing now that people are realising that an attractive (physical) environment contributes to creativity and competitiveness. Here we could make a distinction between facilities for employees and facilities for companies.

The sharing of facilities for companies, which people hope will lead to knowledge sharing and synergy, is a major reason why companies establish themselves on a campus or science park. This aspect is even more important than the actual possibilities of cooperating with the university itself, as shown by a survey among entrepreneurs established at Dutch science parks or campuses. Besides the presence of a young student population, the availability of information systems, laboratories and clean rooms is also important (Van Dinteren en Pfaff, 2011).

On the other hand, when talking about facilities for employees (including ambiance created by buildings, design and landscaping), management has the following reason for their existence: if employees enjoy their work, they simply work more effectively. If they work more effectively, this subsequently has a positive effect on productivity and creativity. Ultimately this leads to better outcomes for businesses. Over two thirds of entrepreneurs at Dutch science parks (completely) agree with the statement that, “given the increasingly tight labour market for highly educated people, it is essential that a science park offers an optimal working environment” (Van Dinteren en Pfaff, 2011). This involves extensive amenities (e.g. shops, hairdressers, restaurants, fitness centres) and an attractively landscaped park with recreational facilities (walking and running routes, meeting places, and so on). A concept such as ‘Enjoy Work’ therefore doesn’t primarily focus on the target group, but on creating a comfortable working environment (see; Van Dinteren, 2007).

Towards a Conceptual Model

Due to the very particular nature of innovation areas, establishing such areas and monitoring their quality is not easy. So what aspects are essential in creating a successful innovation district? Previous blogs focused on regional factors (which the developer has little to no control of; see blog1) and the factors that affect the park itself (see blog2). In summary:


Considering the aforementioned, then various aspects can be displayed a model as presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Towards a conceptual model of innovation areas

Conceptueel model ENG

As stated earlier, innovation districts must be developed in full. This conceptual model provides a tool and may function as a checklist to assess whether all ingredients are present in the development of an innovation district. If aspects are missing, then it should be immediately clear that (additional) attention must be paid to these aspects. But above all, using this model, the correlation between various programmes, actors, management, real estate, infrastructure becomes clear. By applying this model in various developments around the world, the IADP currently validates the proceeds of this model in concrete projects.

[1] The IADP is a collaboration between eight Dutch companies, active in areas including market research, concept development, urban planning, architecture, park management, financial advice and investments. See:

[2] Factually speaking, Sanz refers to an Innovation Area. We prefer to reserve this term for the different concepts combined. According to Sanz’ definition, an innovation area can be both considered at a sub-local and regional level. When it comes to the regional level, we prefer to use the term innovative region.


  • Capello Roberta and Andrea Morrison (2005), An evaluation of the effectiveness of science parks in local knowledge creation: a territorial perspective. Paper for the 5th Triple Helix Conference. Turin.
  • Dinteren, Jacques van (2007), Enjoy work! Als leidend principe. Een nieuw type werklocatie. In: Real Estate Magazine (50), pp. 24-29.
  • Dinteren, Jacques van, Debbie Pfaff (2011), Science park: innovatie of imago? In: Real Estate Magazine, no. 32, pp. 32 – 37.
  • Dinteren, Jacques van, Willem Keeris (2014), Innovatie vraagt om investeren in R&D-vastgoed. In: Real Estate Research Quaterly, april, pp. 26 – 34.
  • EC (2014), Setting up, managing and evaluating EU science and technology parks. European Commission.
  • Hansson, Finn (2004), Science parks as knowledge organisations. The ‘ba’ in action? MPP working paper no. 15. Copenhagen Business School. Copenhagen.
  • Ratinho, Tiago, Elsa Henriques and Luís Maltes (2007). Science parks and business incubators: the Portuguese case. Paper for the European Investment Bank.
  • Sanz, L. (2016), Understanding Areas of Innovation. In Anna Nilina, Josep Pique, Luis Sanz (red.): Areas of innovation in a global world. IASP (e-book).
  • Weterings, Anet, and Roderik Ponds (2007), Regionale kennisnetwerken en innovatie. Rotterdam: NAi Uitgevers publishers.

Your own innovation campus

Strengthening your business

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Zjak Consult

For today’s businesses, it is crucial to work together on innovation with other firms and organisations. Technology has become so specialised that no one can afford to do everything on their own. Co-creation and co-development with partner firms, institutions and universities are essential for being successful. Most new, successful products are the result of collaborative work between engineers, marketing experts, designers and often colleagues and academics as well. The benefits are lower costs, faster time to market and higher return on investment.

In this era of technology and innovation, science and technology parks are growing in number at an increasing pace since the first one was created in the 1950s. Less well known is the development which involves medium-sized and large innovative firms establishing their own ‘science park’. We call this an industrial innovation campus.

The industrial innovation campus differs from a general science park in various ways:

  • In essence it is all about the links between the host firm and the partner firms established on the company site, whereas the focus of firms located in a science park is clearly on the nearby university.
  • The inter-company links on a science park are generally less intense than those on an industrial campus.
  • Because an industrial campus is strategically important for the host firm, it will have an admission policy which will be much stricter than in most of the science parks.

Today, your firm may have the space and buildings available to set up such an industrial innovation campus and perhaps you have taken the strategic decision to consolidate your R&D on a single site. This might be the right time to invite other firms to your site to work together and enhance the innovation potential. Although it is possible to communicate worldwide with suppliers and other firms, proximity clearly makes communication easier. Especially when it is about strategies and innovation. That is why a campus can help to improve your business.

Is setting up a campus attractive?

The answer to the above question is “yes” if the leading firm

  • strongly advocates the idea of innovation and wants to innovate in close cooperation with its suppliers (open innovation or co-innovation);
  • is established in a region which has the characteristics that stimulate innovation and
  • has the space needed by other firms and can create the qualities required to make such an estate a success?

The last two questions are very similar to the questions that should be posed towards developing a science park. See my two blogs that have been published about these aspects:

For regional innovation climate see blog:  click here

For qualities of the site see blog: click here


So, let us concentrate here on the first question about the firm’s philosophy. Let us start with the observation that nowadays it has become harder for firms to keep up with the changing technology, economy and markets merely by innovating. Technology in particular has become so specialised that nobody can afford to do everything on its own at the highest level. Cooperation with other firms, institutions and universities is essential. To succeed, companies need to overcome their deep-seated fear of sharing and in many cases firms have been able to do so: it has become popular to view collaboration with strategic partners as essential resources in the development of technology innovations.

Continuous innovations across organisational boundaries might lead a firm to the idea of establishing an industrial innovation campus on its site (or adjacent to it). A precondition is that this firm understands the dynamics of interorganisational networks and develops – or has developed – skills in managing networks and facilitating network processes. Today, firms often have the space available for such an industrial innovation campus. They may have outsourced activities to other countries, need less space due to new technology or bought too much ground in the past, etc. This offers the opportunities for developing your own industrial innovation campus.

Some Dutch examples

Examples in the Netherlands include Chemelot (DSM, Sittard-Geleen), BioTech Campus (DSM, Delft), Novio Tech Campus (NXP, Nijmegen) and High Tech Campus (originally Philips, Eindhoven).


Novio Tech Campus, Nijmegen (The Netherlands)

Our market researchers and urban planners have formulated a restructuring plan for the business area of NXP semiconductors. NXP is concentrating its activities on its site and needs less space. This offers the opportunity to create the Novio Tech Campus where start-ups and other activities can find attractive accommodation. Focus is on health care and semiconductors, but other activities are also welcomed to stimulate crossovers.

DSM Industrial & Biotech Campus, Delft (The Netherlands)

Delft wants to present itself as a City of Technology. In order to take advantage of the huge potential in white biotechnology, DSM has the will and the resources at its disposal to provide the city with an important (economic) impulse. The consultants of Royal HaskoningDHV have therefore set out a strategic vision for the (re)development of the DSM site into a high quality Industrial & Biotech Campus. The aim is to create an attractive working climate and promote collaboration with knowledge organisations like Delft University of Technology and other firms working with DSM or in the same fields.

High Tech Automotive Campus, Helmond (The Netherlands)

Local businesses in the automotive industry, education and knowledge institutes and the municipality of Helmond took the initiative to develop an automotive science park, using the available space on the industrial estate where some firms in this industry were already established. The idea is to create an innovative and sustainable environment in which businesses can cooperate within the automotive sector. Starting from market research and a site analysis, a spatial functional concept has been designed that meets the requirements of the selected target groups. This concept has been translated into an ambitious urban design that blends into the landscape and creates an inspiring working environment.

Concept & market orientation;

heart & soul of the urban master plan

Urban van Aar (Royal HaskoningDHV) & Jacques van Dinteren (Zjak Consult)

Studying major urban developments worldwide, we find that successful projects have a clear and convincing concept in common. A concept strong enough to guide the planning and building process and attractive enough to tempt the market to invest. The question is how to generate such a concept. A second question concerns the role of market studies in this concept generation.

Our studies show that some major projects suffer from delays and lack of sales and even bankruptcy due to the lack of a concept for the envisaged urban development plan. Mistakes we found included:

  • absence of any concept, based on the idea that real estate will always sell;
  • lack of ambition: too much reliance on strategies from the past (“it worked before”);
  • no idea about the preferences of the demand side, no awareness of the competition;
  • a too rigid mono functional concept resulting in a ‘Blue Print’ plan;
  • a concept consisting of marketing slogans, which are expected to tempt investors;
  • failing relations (economic, social, transportation) with the surrounding built environment.

We also found a range of projects with satisfactory sales results but which disrupt the urban environment by creating congestion, environmental problems, vacancies and other issues. All these projects can be assessed as ‘not successful’, i.e. they are not profitable for the city in the long term.

Short term, self-centred approach

It struck us that both developers and governments tend to rely on previous projects, not realising that the market is already saturated or has changed. They continue using the same concept over and over again. “Surprisingly often and for their own reasons, companies put other interests ahead of customers’ interests. (…..) These narrower interests can be characterized as the ‘production concept’, the ‘product concept’, the ‘selling concept’, or simply a ‘short-term, self-centred approach’” (Mike E. Miles et al., Real estate development, 2003). Or put in another way: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black” (Henry Ford).

Another common approach is to opt too quickly for the most obvious opportunity. An initiator has a promising proposal for a new project (creating jobs and international exposure) and the government wants to support him by offering an available piece of land. The project will then be planned in the same spot ignoring the restrictions of the site and the preferences of investors, future companies and inhabitants, as well as ignoring the existing or future competition. This is an example of a very common error in urban master planning: skipping the stage of concept development and neglecting the required study of future developments: demography, economy, transportation, environment, etc. These planning projects ‘jump’ from site surveys to designs and forget to build a proper set of ideas for the place of the project within the city.

A ‘market oriented concept’ or a ‘marketing concept’

Often, marketing tools and slogans are used to motivate an urban development. Think of ‘Eco City‘, ‘Beach City’, ‘Sports City’ and other similar concepts. If these titles for urban development are used to market a good plan, the project might succeed. But if these marketing slogans are just window dressing, many will fail because a sound foundation  is missing. This is the difference between a ‘market oriented concept’ and ‘marketing concept’.  A sound foundation takes into account and integrates market demand and requirements, transportation, utilities, quality standards, etc. Based on such research, the concept should be resilient enough to cope with the ever changing market and preferences of the public and business world.

Our conclusion is that the planning concept – the set of leading ideas for a development – is the essential and key element in the urban planning process. It forms the link between the regional context, the site’s potential, the market and the socio-economic trends on the one hand and the urban design, how it fits into the city and how it will improve urban life on the other.

Market orientation is indispensable

Let’s go back to our central questions: how to generate the concept for a major urban project and what is the role of market survey herein? The key position of the concept in the planning process is illustrated in the diagram below.


Without compromising other aspects like the environment, policy and feasibility, one can state that market research is an indispensable part of the concept development. Socio-economic situations and trends are studied in order to generate an overview of motivated expectations – such as limitations and chances – for the specific location. The best examples of these market studies produce an in-depth regional and sometimes even (inter)national socio-economic analysis and forecast which will be translated into a demand forecast and programmes which will form the basis for the concept and the master plan. Cooperation between the market specialists, the client and the master planners is important as this interaction helps focus the socio economic studies and identify chances and opportunities at an early stage. Urban planners must be involved in these early stages: market specialists often use the ideas and experience of master planners to find the decisive details, such as the local market for new ideas which have proven successful elsewhere. On the other hand: market specialist still play a role in later stages of the development process to control how the plan will meet market developments and requirements.

Furthermore, one must remember that when it comes to square metres and rate of sales, the market perspective is limited to between five and ten years. However, the market research is much broader and also focuses strongly on establishing the strategic lines of development for the long term. These strategic guidelines in particular have to be translated into the concept. Obviously, if a specific development takes many years, market research must be repeated on a regular basis, say every five years.

Circular process

Creating a concept based on the research performed is a circular rather than a linear process. Contrary to what many people think, a good concept does not fall from the sky. It is a constant interaction between the potential of the location, regional links, technical possibilities, new opportunities and market developments. It is the heart of the planning process and everyone involved contributes.

An important factor in the concept development is the level of ambition defined by the developer or the government. This ambition reveals the willingness to take certain risks (generally within certain financial limits) in order to achieve a higher goal, such as strengthening the image of the city, resilience, sustainability, etc. Sustainability is definitely an ambition that cannot be ignored.

The method briefly described here is (obviously) not limited to new urban developments or real estate projects. Especially in Western countries, changing demographic and economic conditions require transformations of existing urban areas. Taking into account the importance of sustainability and resilience, such product innovations are essential. Due to the complexity of inner city restructuring processes, the importance of good interaction between market research and concept development cannot be underestimated.

Take your time

In short, a good concept is indispensable in urban development (but also in smaller scale real estate projects). Given that interest, it is amazing that the government and real estate developers often economise on these first steps in the development process, even though a strong urban concept and underlying studies are crucial to the ultimate success of a project. It cannot be denied that creating a good foundation for an urban (re)development plan is more time consuming. However, if one takes into account the lifetime of such a development and its envisaged long term success, there’s no other choice.

Site design for Science Parks

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Zjak Consult

The importance of location still cannot be denied

Thanks to the multitude of ways to communicate that are available today, it is sometimes said that distance no longer matters and that – by extension – the geographic location of STPs has become much less important. Nothing could be further from the truth. Surveys among businesses located at STPs demonstrate this. For example, for businesses at Dutch STPs, the proximity of a university, the STP’s geographic location and its accessibility on the regional scale level are still the most important factors. The failure to satisfy these kinds of crucial requirements has jeopardised the success of more than one STP. In some cases there had been no critical analysis of the regional conditions, or those in charge were too convinced of the possibilities of being able to make favourable changes to those conditions, such as accessibility and networking opportunities with other businesses and knowledge institutions. Not all environments are conducive settings for an STP.

If a region has good market prospects for the development of an STP, it is still relevant to ask where exactly the best location is. Site selection compares the available alternatives in terms of various characteristics such as accessibility, environment/landscape, the infrastructure in place (the internet backbone, for instance), the space for future expansion and the proximity of interesting companies and knowledge institutions. From the vantage point of sustainable development, it is also logical to look at the possibilities for (creating) multimodal access and good integration in the landscape. Given the trend to consider STPs an important node in an innovation area, site selection specifically has to provide for a careful integration of STPs in that regional knowledge ecosystem.

Market-based site design: key to success

The target group, functional concept, financial feasibility and functional programme of requirements for the development of an STP can be outlined on the basis of market research. Because STPs usually involve a long development period (up to thirty years even), this requires a specific approach: after all it is virtually impossible to sketch out the market prospects for the next twenty years, for example. The market research for an STP must therefore also explicitly contain an analysis of the region that investigates whether all the conditions imposed by such a development are satisfied.

Our experience has taught that as far as the time horizon is concerned, an in-depth, detailed market research is mainly useful for the medium term. Not many property projects are established in this period however, but a market study gives a first (but nothing more) picture of the feasibility in these early years. In this stage it is important that market research also clarifies the target groups and functional concept. The functional concept describes the STP ‘product’ in functional terms. It is the creative idea that lays the foundation for the design. This has to do with the atmosphere/ambience, ways of working, communication possibilities, spatial quality, etc. Testing should demonstrate that the concept appeals to the target group and will incite them to set up business at the STP.

In our approach market analysis does not stand alone. The exchange of ideas and cooperation between market researchers and designers in developing a vision and concept is unusual, but in our view are precisely the keys to success in achieving a successful plan. In our market studies, the designers and colleagues from other relevant disciplines are involved from the very beginning therefore.

Interdisciplinary site design

“The 21st century science park once again regards the built environment as vital, not as an end in itself but as an aid to the process of creativity, interaction and innovation,” John Allen said during one of the IASP conferences. This calls for new types of buildings, high-quality landscaping and the availability of a great range of services. A design that provides for these new requirements will be a significant success factor for the park. On the other hand, more traditional aspects of a design are still needed, such as safety and security, transport and communication infrastructure, parking facilities, and space for expansion.

It is important to point out here that in our opinion, urban planners are just one of the categories of specialists working on the site design for an STP. A 21st century site design for an STP is not resilient unless it is underpinned by a far broader, interdisciplinary team. Along with a focus on environment and sustainability, market research must be brought into the entire development process in order to share ideas – continually – and create a joint vision from a variety of perspectives or disciplines, which include urban planners, landscape architects, traffic consultants and financial experts.

Because the development of an STP is a long-term project (provided there is a good selection strategy), flexibility in the site design is key, as is stability to secure the return on investments. This means keeping as many options for future development open for as long as possible. The design needs to be organised in such a way that opportunities can be combined right up to the last moment. The core team continually tracks developments that affect the plan, tests the foundation for stability and adjusts the plan if necessary.

Attracting the brains: changing the work environment

The importance of an intelligent design that maximises the chances for innovation, ‘serendipity’ and the exchange of ideas is considered increasingly important by developers, businesses, designers and other parties involved. The line of reasoning in this is as follows: if employees enjoy their work, they work better. If they work better, this positively impacts productivity and creativity. This ultimately leads to better results for companies.

Based on this kind of thinking, a work environment can be created that can benefit the STP’s companies in the War for Talent. Not only in order to generate employees, but also to retain them for as long as possible. A work environment must be created that stimulates the process of creativity, interaction and innovation. A survey we conducted among companies located at Dutch STPs indicated that 69% of them agreed or agreed strongly with the statement that given the increasing shortage of highly educated people on the job market, it is essential that STPs offer these workers an optimal work environment. This means extensive facilities (for instance, shops, hair salons, restaurants and cafés, fitness studios) and an attractively designed STP with recreation options (walking and jogging routes, meeting places, etc.).

The interior design of each building on an STP is largely informed by the need for a pleasant and attractive work environment. The current trend is for employees to collaborate in project- and program-managed working formations where they increasingly connect through virtual meeting points rather than in person on the work floor. This trend is revolutionising our idea of a work environment. A work environment is no longer simply a physical site (i.e. an office with meeting rooms); it may include virtual elements (ICT), as well as more abstract elements (corporate culture and shared beliefs on how to do certain things). Each of these elements is equally important in the creation of an effective and productive work environment, and they are all interdependent.

The need for multi-purpose buildings

Many STPs come with laboratories and cleanrooms. These high-tech spaces have sophisticated and expensive equipment which is often shared by multiple users. Shared use of laboratories and/or cleanrooms requires clear communication lines between users so that security can be safeguarded while innovative experiments are being carried out. Whether the buildings in question belong to small start-ups or to large multinational corporations, it is of vital importance that user requirements be discussed and defined upfront. This is an important step towards ensuring that the requirements for the yet-to-be-built laboratories can be met and that clear boundaries be established with regard to what the various users are and aren’t allowed to do. One way to make appropriate decisions for all parties involved is to carefully weigh one’s choices regarding flexibility and the total costs of ownership (TCO). By doing so, one can establish a well-considered program of requirements that can be used to determine which design criteria the various end users expect to be implemented. Once these steps have been taken, the program can then be used as a guideline in monitoring the design, engineering and construction of the new buildings.

Success factors for Science Parks

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Zjak Consult

“Many have come to view science parks as a type of ‘silver bullet’ with the capability of dramatically improving a region or community’s ability to compete in the global technology and innovation economy. The reality, however, is far more complex.”

IASP chairman Rick L. Weddle

Innovation is the key word in government plans to strengthen the economic climate. Numerous conditions will have to be created for a successful innovation policy. What cannot be overlooked in this process is the physical environment that businesses need in order to be able to successfully work on new ideas, products and services. These are usually very specific buildings that often require major investments. These could be offices as well as laboratories, clean rooms, small-scale (trial) production units, etc. Buildings that can usually be found at Science and Technology Parks. Science and Technology Parks (STPs) are growing in number and at an increasing pace since the first parks were built in the 1950s. Together with universities and other knowledge institutions, STPs, and especially the businesses established there, play a crucial role in the progress of science and the economy. These specialised business parks have become an essential part of local and regional innovative ecosystems.

The development of STPs is many times more complex than the development of a regular business park. While the emphasis early on was on the physical development, along the way developers started realising that STPs require an entirely different approach. Approximately two decades ago the adage ‘brains, not bricks’ was used to stimulate the process of creativity, interaction and innovation. The importance of this is increasing in fact as people realise that an attractive (physical) work environment contributes to creativity and competitiveness. And just as importantly: it helps attract and retain creative, well-educated employees in the War for Talent.

Nevertheless, the adage ‘brains, not bricks’ did not alter the fact that the developed environment is still of crucial importance. The development of an STP calls now more than ever for a well-grounded integrated plan on the area level. It also requires clear ideas for the park management, financing, guidelines for buildings, property financing, etc.

Know the success factors

An analysis of the papers published during IASP conferences over the past years clearly highlights the success factors in setting up an STP. A distinction can be made here between the regional factors (on which the developer often has little or no influence) and the factors that concern the STP itself.

Important regional factors or conditions are:

  • A well-functioning network of innovative/creative businesses and institutions

There must be a culture of intellectual interaction, creativity and entrepreneurship in the region. Strong, specializing economies with a good regional or local innovative ecosystem form a sound basis for successful STPs.

  • A well-functioning job market of knowledge workers

Technology and knowledge companies are even more dependent than other economic sectors on well-educated, creative workers. This condition is therefore essential. It is also important that the region be able to attract and retain these knowledge workers.

  • An attractive residential and living environment

An attractive residential and living environment is an essential condition for attracting highly educated people and retaining knowledge workers already living in the area.

  • The presence of tertiary education, universities and other knowledge institutions

In addition to the presence of these knowledge institutions, a large innovative company can also play a key role. Universities or other knowledge institutions do not necessarily need to be in the immediate vicinity of the STP, though this does stimulate informal contacts.

  • Available sources of financing

Innovative companies often need a long development period for their products. This requires, for example, specific financial arrangements, provided by cooperating regional banks, as well as access to other sources of financing, such as innovation funds.

The key factors for success for the science park itself are:

  • Embedding

The development of an STP must be explicitly embedded in a regional or local innovation strategy to promote economic development.

  • Market, vision and strategy

The development must be based on a thorough market survey. Working from this basis, the target group can be clearly delineated and a distinctive concept can be conceived of. This is set down in a clear vision and a long-term strategy for attaining the goals that have been formulated. It is precisely because a specific target group is chosen that the operating estimate takes a much longer time than for a regular development. Proposals for eliminating weak features of the regional economy are also important.

  • Strong management

A science park distinguishes itself from a regular business park by the fact that the contacts do not stop once the business moves in, but in fact just begin at that point. A science park therefore has professional management. The management is responsible for high-quality housing and the concrete range of facilities on offer, such as laboratories, clean rooms, testing facilities, etc. At some STPs a great deal of attention is devoted to the set-up and management of incubator centres, in the thinking that this is where the future ‘residents’ of the park will be coming from. Leasing the buildings helps management to control the park and guarantees a future proof development.

  • Broad package of services

The management ensures that the businesses located in the park can function optimally by offering a very broad package of services. This can include access to sources of financing, management and marketing advice, development of innovation strategies and the fostering of contact between entrepreneurs. The organisation of seminars, training, informal meetings, etc, is also important. Events, concerts, exhibitions and happenings are organised at some parks, as a way of contributing to a creative environment.

  • Clear choice of target group

A clear choice must be made for a particular target group. This ensures that the site has a clear profile. The management is responsible for a clear admission strategy and must stick to this. In addition to the target group, there must be a possibility for complementary businesses to take up residence as well, such as consultancy firms and other specific (technical) service providers.

  • A strong urban planning concept

On the level of the science park itself, a work environment that stimulates creativity and innovation is required. The services mentioned earlier play a role in this. The presence of consumer amenities, the architecture and the landscaping are also factors. There must be an overall urban planning concept and a coordinating urban planner who supervises the architecture of the individual buildings. In view of the long-term planning, flexibility in the concept is of great importance. Sustainability plays a significant role in all plans these days.

  • A unique, distinctive identity

After making a clear choice in terms of target group and property concept, the management and stakeholders must subsequently ensure that the science park has a clear identity. This identity is fleshed out in, for instance, the name and logo and must be distinctive and consistently expressed externally by all the parties involved.

  • Facilitating role for the government

There is usually a facilitating role reserved for the local government. The local government’s commitment is important and the municipality (in cooperation with other government agencies) can play a role in attracting businesses and improving national and international accessibility. Government subsidies will often be necessary, certainly in the starting phase. Government loans are also attractive because the term of these loans is often longer than those provided by financial institutions.