Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP)

Campus to City: Urban Design for Universities

Kees Christiaanse (KCAP) in ‘Campus and the City’

The ‘campus’ is a phenomenon of increasing relevance to modern urban planning. In Europe, universities are reconsidering their position in society and taking on extensive reorganisations and expansions of their physical structures. The postwar university campus as an isolated community of scholars is subject to thorough revision. In Asia, on the other hand, new campus-style universities are shooting up like mushrooms. Global companies build campus-style factory sites for their international headquarters or for their research-and-development departments. The controversy over the desirability of openness and interaction with the urban environment versus the increasing popularity of the ‘gated community’ and restricted access, demonstrates the need for a radical debate on the shape and the position of the campus in relationship to its context.

An interesting archetype for the relationship between the university and the city is Cambridge University in Great Britain. Here, cloister-like ‘colleges’ in the shape of more or less closed compounds surrounding an inner courtyard are scattered in clusters all over the city. Although Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world, this constellation may well  be highly relevant to the present search for the ideal accommodation of today’s university: an ‘interconnected deconcentration’ of specialised clusters, which together constitute a network of knowledge and individually function as catalysts for their immediate surroundings. This complementary symbiosis of the ivory tower and everyday life is expressed in various ways: in the architecture of the buildings, in the dress code and lifestyle of the Cambridge students and in the famous map of Cambridge pubs, which serves as a diagram of social activity.

Size Matters

In Cambridge, the intimate relationship between ‘town and gown’ did not result from a deliberate avoidance of functional segregation. It developed from the limited size of the historical city, from its spatial structures, which are based on walking distances, and from the limited scale and complexity of teaching and research at that time. Likewise in Leyden, home of the oldest university of the Netherlands, virtually all the university buildings and even the private residences of the professors were originally situated along a single canal, the so-called Rapenburg.

The increase in scale which led to our contemporary problems concerning functional and social segregation and mobility did not begin until the second half of the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the ram-parts surrounding European cities were demolished. Under the influence of the industrial revolution and the emergence of social awareness, large urban institutions were founded. In Zurich, the train station and the polytechnic school designed by architect Gottfried Semper were built on the edge of the city in the area of the former ramparts.

From an ideological point of view, these interventions were equivalent to the creation of a postwar campus in the 1960s: both involve the outplacement of huge monofunctional entities to an isolated location beyond the city limits, as can be seen in a late nineteenth-century map of Zurich. Contrary to the original intentions, however, Zurich’s ETH Zentrum and the adjacent University are now being praised for their inner-city locations and their close interactions with the city. As a matter of fact, the city caught up with the university and eventually integrated it into the urban spatial structure. Nowadays, an implicit aim of ETH Zurich’s Science City project is to embed the ETH even further and to reconciliate it with its context, while simultaneously preserving a certain autonomous identity.

Islands of Quiet

In a way, this is also what happened to the postwar university campus of  the 1960s. The EPF in Lausanne is a prime example of such an isolated extra-municipal campus. In its structuralist urban planning concept, the various faculties, lecture halls and laboratories are arranged like modules along a central spine. In the middle of the spine is an ‘agora’ which provides a wide range of collective facilities. This geometrical shape, pressed into the sloping banks of Lake Geneva, perfectly reflects the idea of a knowledge centre in the midst of nature, geared to provide a maximum of quietness and concentration.

However attractive and pure this idea may seem, thirty years after its widespread implementation it is evident that this type of university campus does not lead to a desirable sociocultural and urban environment. It is hampered by its isolated location, its monofunctional disposition and its remoteness from mixed urban structures. Revisions generally aim at adding living quarters for students and staff, providing high-quality public trans-port and attracting commercial and cultural functions, such as spin-off enterprises, shops and a library or a theatre, which are also open to the in-habitants of the surrounding suburbs.

These suburbs are in fact the selfsame city which, like nineteenth-century urban expansions, has encircled and swallowed the university. Despite their flaws, the suburbs show the modern city’s true appearance, which has virtu-ally the same shape all over the world. This is where the greater part of the population lives and a major part of economic production takes place.

If the campus is not surrounded by suburbs, adding non-university functions to encourage functional diversity and social interaction is likely to increase the risk of further isolation. The campus of Twente University in the Netherlands, for example, offers such a complete range of amenities for living, working, shopping and leisure and is so far removed from the city, that it is turning into an autonomous compound with all the characteristics of a gated community or an Asian campus.

In Silicon Valley, however, no city had formerly existed to catch up with the university. Here the spin-off activities around Stanford University generated such a boost that it made an Edge City expand into a veritable urban conglomeration, which in turn now determines the socioeconomic life of an entire region.

Inner-city Campus

However, the ideal model in the head of many planners for the campus revisions that are taking place all over Europe is not a university of deconcentrated clusters of various sizes, positions and characteristics, reconciled with the city on the scale of polycentric conurbations. Their ideal is the illusion of the inner-city campus within walking distance from the city, as it is embodied in the Technical University of Berlin (TU), Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or the London School of Economics (LSE).

The TU Berlin is a mono-functional campus, whose mono-functionality is compensated for by its central position in the middle of the city. Situated on the interface between a city park, the Tiergarten, and the nineteenth-century district of Charlottenburg, the TU Berlin enjoys the advantages  of a traditional campus as well as the perks of a university that blends in with the city. Due to the ravages of World War II, there is still sufficient space for expansion.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the opposite is true. Here, the heart of this former suburb now consists of Harvard Yard and Harvard Square, the oldest parts of Harvard University, and the development of the city has kept up with the growth of the university. It is a convincing example of a harmonious exchange between university and city, with central functions (Harvard Square), a city park (Harvard Yard) and a university centre at its heart. Our third example, the LSE in London, occupies a historical city district. It consists of a network of alleys and squares and a collection of large and small, old and new buildings that are placed within the original allocation pattern. Over the years, premises have been joined together, enlarged or replaced. The result is a university nestling in the city district as if by mimicry. The formidable urban qualities of such an unplanned university raise the question as to whether we should actually design universities at all, or perhaps rather allow them to infiltrate and transform a city district through improvisation and embroidering existing structures.

Campus Revisited

While the postwar university campus of the 1960s is presently undergoing an identity crisis and major revision in Europe, this is certainly not the  case in other parts of the world, as recent developments in Asia indicate.  In many Asian countries the extra-municipal, monofunctional campus of quietness and concentration is not perceived as a problem, but as a symbol of progress (and social control). The University City Guangzhou in China even consists of a ‘city of campuses’. Here, about ten university campuses form a conglomeration where students and staff virtually spend their lives, well provided for by all kinds of infrastructure.

Global enterprises have also adopted the campus as a blueprint for their international headquarters or their research-and-development departments. Companies like Microsoft, Novartis, Volkswagen, Benetton, Adidas and  Nike each have their own way of using the campus concept as a leitmotif.

In reaction to severe criticism of Nike’s deployment of child labour in sweatshops in low-wage countries, the company made a radical turn to-wards a policy of sustainable production techniques and social responsibility. One of the new techniques allows for sneakers to be recycled as ground material for floor-coverings in gyms. In Guangzhou, Nike developed Shoe-City, a production campus inspired by the garden cities built by philanthropic entrepreneurs in the nineteenth century, where employees can find affordable housing and send their children to school. By comparison, the Nike World Campus in Beaverton, Oregon, is a less inspiring project. In-stead of using a former industrial area to build a headquarters within walking distance of the city centre, like Benetton did in Italy, Beaverton Campus is a quintessential gated community, with white, Richard Meier-like buildings that look like ships run aground in the green belt. Instead of offering a multiple network of footpaths and bicycle tracks within an urban environment, the area is only accessible by car. The layout of the campus is  defined by parking lots rather than by jogging tracks.

Far more interesting are the developments of Benetton in Treviso and of VW in Wolfsburg. Both projects inject new life into a run-down city centre by generating interaction with new functional clusters.

Catalytic Enclaves

In many urban and architectural situations, redeveloping existing structures leads to more interesting results than building virginal new premises.2 The archetype of a university working as an instrument of revitalisation for derelict industrial sites is the project Potteries Think-belt by Cedric Price, which was never built. In this concept, the faculties, laboratories, lecture halls and student dormitories are situated far apart in disused ceramic factories, which are connected by a railway system originally built for trans-porting raw materials and ceramics. Lectures were to be given in the trains while students and staff commuted between the various locations.

This utopia, which reverberates in projects like IBA-Emscherpark in Germany, is an early version of the concept that universities can serve as networks of dispersed concentrations which activate weaker areas. It also tallies with the idea that traffic infrastructure can structuralise the economics of knowledge. In accordance with this idea, the universities and colleges of Rotterdam have arranged themselves along an ‘axis of knowledge’, the subway which traverses the city. The faculties are concentrated around three subway stations. This stimulates urban development in the areas, as students are the social group most willing to engage in urban activities.

One of the most radical and impressive examples of a university that stimulates urban activity is Bilgi University in Istanbul, Turkey. The institution buys and restores former industrial buildings in less developed areas of the city in order to provide adequate and affordable premises for its own growing activities, while at the same time giving a huge socioeconomic boost to the surrounding city quarters. Most notably the Santral project, involving a former power station on the peninsula at the source of the Golden Horn, demonstrates a degree of commitment and ambition com-parable to the zeal of Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Germany. The peninsula is being transformed into a city park at the Golden Horn. In this park, the power station is converted to accommodate the main building of the uni-versity. Such a catalytic enclave creating a network across the city reflects not only the spirit of Cedric Price’s Potteries Think-belt, but also that of the time-honoured Cambridge colleges.

Science City, ETH Zurich

The Hönggerberg campus of the ETH in Zurich is a standard university complex from the 1960s, when the creation of large-scale universities led to expansion outside the city. The campus was built as an isolated enclave on a green hill. In the 1960s, it still stood outside the city; now it is a mono-functional island in the middle of the archipelago formed by the Zurich agglomeration. Just as the city has evolved into an agglomeration, the  atomisation of the university has resulted in its development into an ag-glomeration within the city or, to put it more positively, the university has become interwoven with the city despite separation and specialisation. Proceeding from this interpretation, we can try to bring the suburban cam-pus into contact with surrounding city districts, generating a communal basis capable of supporting new activities. A basis for commercial functions like shops, cafés and restaurants is achieved by a densification of the campus with, alongside additional university buildings, residential buildings where live/work combinations and spin-off business activities are possible as well as complementary amenities like a primary school. Thanks to lecture halls and foyers also being used for events and community activities, there is a sociocultural exchange with the city. While it is true that no inner-city  urbanity will evolve here, it does provide fertile ground for a gradual development towards a well-balanced environmental quality. This attempt at an integration of city and university constitutes the true significance of the term ‘Science City’.

Science Park Amsterdam

While Science City in Zurich was a pre-existing campus on a beautiful site, the Science Park planned for Amsterdam’s Watergraafsmeer, originally a polder, is an urban bathtub. Surrounded by water and dikes, a railway yard and Amsterdam’s orbital motorway – all the elements of contemporary, closed spatial systems – it is self-contained. It is of little consequence for the rest of the city whether a residential district, an industrial area, a quarantine terrain or a university campus is located here. This shocking conclusion is alas no longer unusual. It applies to most suburban enclaves, except that these are generally not perceived as being so extreme because they have softer edges. On the one hand, there is something attractive about the idea that the city can consist of interchangeable ‘patches’; on the other hand, the insularity, concentrated access and monofunctionality of such areas leads to a lack of social control, uneven daytime and nighttime rhythms, a lack of multiple relationships, an increase in mobility – in short to primitive, one-dimensional systems.

In this area, which is only accessible at three points, the Science Park, the scientific cluster of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), is being developed. Construction zones run from east to west, interspersed with wide bands of green. The construction zones are subject to a building code that is characterised by a labyrinthine structure that establishes a system of successive public and semi-public spaces. Situating communal amenities at junctions fosters concentrations of public activity. Instead of standing like bonbons on the grass, the buildings ‘fold’ themselves around the courtyards and interweave with adjacent buildings. It is not the form of the actual buildings that dominates, but the system of spaces between the buildings: this ‘anti-hierarchical network’ reflects the idea of ‘university’. The system for non-motorized traffic, meandering through the courtyards and atria like a net-work of rabbit runs, can expand and contract, depending on the intensity of use and the day-and-night rhythm. The public green strips also serve as a logistical zone for goods deliveries and as a cable route, where fibre-optic cables, nitrogen pipes or central heating for the blocks can be laid, as de-sired. Thus all the laboratories enjoy flexible access to the technical infra-structure.

Housing, cafés and restaurants, a public transport facility, a hotel, and sports facilities will also be developed in the Science Park. But unlike Science City, these functions do not mix. Within the polder bathtub they form a miniature archipelago of monofunctional islands, because the faculty buildings and laboratories produce emissions and must be able to expand and contract. This situation is illustrative of the dilemma between the desire for functional interaction and the imperative of programmatic criteria.

With this design concept we try to provide an instrument to enable non-mixable entities in the urban archipelago to function in complementary ways, by designing their interactive and relational structures rather than forcing an unfortunate integration.3

Managing the ecosystem of innovation areas

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Zjak Consult, The Netherlands / Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP)

Laurens Tait MSc, Arup / Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP)

Ir. Frank Werner, KCAP Architects&Planners / Innovation Area Development Partnership (IADP)

While the emphasis early on was on the physical development, along with the way developers started realising that science and technology parks (STPs) require an entirely different approach. This blog (partly based on earlier ones) starts with presenting an overview of the development of the STP-concept and the impact of management on the success of these parks. In The Netherlands that success is to a certain extent often hampered by the fact that several parties are involved, having their own responsibilities. A simple model is described in which daily management can have control over the socio-economic and the physical aspects. This model can also be used for co-innovation parks and the upcoming concept of innovation districts (all together: innovation areas). In the last part, it is stated that changing concepts have led to changes in management and this evolution will continue due to, among others, globalisation.

The innovation area as an umbrella

The ‘science park’ is a phenomenon of increasing relevance to modern urban planning (Christiaanse, 2007). In Europe, universities are reconsidering their position in society and taking on extensive reorganisations and expansions of their physical structures. The post-war university campus as an isolated community of scholars is subject to thorough revision. In Asia, on the other hand, new campus-style universities are shooting up like mushrooms. Global companies build campus-style factory sites for their international headquarters or for their research-and-development departments.

Given the nature of the activities and the institutions a science or technology park (STP) focuses on, it should not be considered likely that this would be a static concept. Companies and institutions that are focussed on innovation generally are highly dynamic. Nevertheless, in the first decades of its existence, the STP-concept was predominantly viewed as a ‘stand-alone’ activity and often primarily as a real estate development. In western economies this has significantly changed over the last three decades and the primary focus has shifted to stimulating innovation. That is the first trend.

A second trend is the broadening of the concept. When it is about specific locations for innovations it is no longer about STPs alone. (Industrial) co-innovation parks, developed around a leading innovative company instead of a university, were created when these companies opened up their sites for other companies and institutions.

A relatively new concept is the innovation district which 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). In fact Sanz and others (Nilina c.s., 2016) use the term “innovation area”. The scale of such an area can vary widely. Ann Arbor SPARK (U.S.A.) covers an entire region, while 22@Barcelona is 200 ha. In our opinion all the more reason to distinguish between innovative regions and innovation districts which, in terms of scale, are comparable to co-innovation parks and science parks. We suggest using the concept of an “innovation area” as the umbrella term for science parks, industrial co-innovation parks and innovation districts. On a higher geographical scale one can distinguish the “innovation region”.

The shifting away from a real estate development towards stimulating innovation has changed the management of these sites. It is not about managing buildings, but managing a community of people working on innovations. Due to its character managing an innovation district might be somewhat different from managing a STP or a co-innovation park. The management of such a development is still important, though functional blending of activities is a relatively new element in this concept and might ask for a somewhat different approach. Due to the functional mix, other parties than the usual ones might become involved, such as the inhabitants of the area. Moreover, the link with a university is generally less strong, though this can be partially overcome by establishing a ‘branch’.

The above demonstrates that there are alterations in the concept over time and this has led to changes in the way these estates are managed. Such modifications will continue, for example due to the rather isolated geographical position of many STPs, often at the edge of a city. That poses questions about the embeddedness of STPs (and probably also co-innovation parks) in the region. Maybe the region is a better scale: an innovation region with multiple focal points (innovation areas) and a network of companies and institutions which are located in those innovation areas and elsewhere in the region. That poses questions about the way innovation areas and their linkages with the region are organised. It also raises the question whether management at the regional level is needed. And in the next step one has even to consider the global level. Thanks to travel options, telecommunications and the like, regions are included in worldwide networks through the process of globalisation and innovation parks become hubs in the global knowledge network.

This paper will discuss some of these changes, using a simplified model of changing innovation area concepts and changing management activities.

Changing concepts, changing management

Figure 1 sketches the development of the innovation area concept over the past decades, also showing the emergence of innovation districts and the growing interest of embedding these concepts in regional and worldwide networks. It is an ideal-type image which will rarely apply to a specific innovation area. The figure mainly shows that currently much more emphasis is placed on networks and (therefore also) on the regional and worldwide embedding of an innovation area. The more complex these networks are, which is also related to the geographical scale, the more important the management of the ecosystem.

There are many ways to manage a company and there are also many ways to run an innovation area. When analysing management concepts, ownership is an important starting point. A survey of IASP in 2012 (European Commission, 2013; refer to figure 2) shows that the public sector dominates: 55% of STPs in Europe are owned by public parties, mainly local government, public universities and regional government. This can be a mix of public parties. 15% of the STPs are privately owned (private universities and foundations, and private companies) and 31% of the STPs have mixed ownership. In this latter case, local government, public universities and private companies dominate.

Figure 1: Ideal-type development of the innovation area concept and its management Ontwikkleing management

Figure 2: Ownership of STPs in Europe (source: European Commission, 2013)Ownership

The above-mentioned survey by IASP relates ownership to land, sites, infrastructures and buildings. If perceived in such a way managing a STP doesn’t differ from managing an industrial estate or a business park. This focus on the physical aspects of a STP was typical for the first decades of the STP concept, as stated earlier. In that stage, the typical characteristic of a STP was a physical clustering of a certain target group, in this case a group of companies focussing on research and development. During the years the insight grew that the real economic asset of a STP is in the linkages between companies, institutions and a university. The conclusion was that successful STP management needed an extra layer. Management of a commercial estate will focus on infrastructure underground and the surface and will take care of buildings and the built environment figure 3). But the added value of an innovation area is in the ‘software’ as an extra layer. That distinguishes it from a regular industrial site or business park:

  • management of the networks between companies, institutions and a university;
  • management of the facilities for companies, institutions and a university;
  • management of the services for the community (the people who work on the site).

Figure 3: physical and socio-economic layers as individual and interconnected components of an innovation arealagenbenadering

The right section of figure 1 shows the manner in which the management of innovation area concepts has adapted to evolving concepts and the shift from real estate towards the community (to put it briefly). Today many STPs in the western world are ‘halfway’, although many differences exist between countries and regions. There is a focus on creating networks between the parties in the estate and management also takes care of a high-quality environment for the employees to sustain creative processes and to attract and keep a critical and highly educated workforce, the community. When looking at creating the community joint festivities, sports events and having a drink together should help to develop this. Part of this is also the quality of the working environment. Two third of the managers in Dutch science parks stated that due to the scarcity of highly educated personnel a sublime working environment is essential. Although it isn’t a science park, but much more a cluster of media companies, Chiswick Park in London is still one of the most striking examples of creating such a work environment. Although building a community is perceived today as an essential part of an innovation part, the most crucial is creating the networks between companies and institutions. Matchmaking, organising seminars, support with patent applications are all matters which are part of the extensive service package which innovation area management offers.

So, today, there are many different management activities: area and real estate management, network and community management, but also facility management, asset management, etc. All these management activities generally have different stakeholders. This can cause problems. How can these different fields become properly connected and organised in a coherent way? Is it possible to have one organisation that can do business on behalf of all partners? If there is only one owner managing a STP is (relatively) easier, of course. In The Netherlands that is the case with the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. Other STP’s show a somewhat more complex organisation.

Managing STPs in The Netherlands

Although there are many differences one can generally state that many of the Dutch STPs now are in the stage of further developing the community and building networks. The question who manages the STP is relevant here. because in general there are two or more stakeholders. The exception is the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The starting point for the Philips High Tech Campus were the high-quality laboratories of Philips (NatLab), the trend towards open innovation and the feeling by management that the company had to stimulate the regional economy. This latter aspect had to with the decision by Philips to move their headquarter from Eindhoven to Amsterdam in 1998. In a discussion with the government the idea of an open innovation park came up to compensate for the loss (although only 300 jobs were involved). Initially, the park was managed by Philips, but in 2008 Philips decided to sell the campus to focus on their core business.  In January 2012 Philips established High Tech Campus Eindhoven Site Management B.V. (without the name Philips). This organisation takes care of daily management, including marketing and promotion. In that year a Dutch investor  Chalet Group) bought the campus and today all management activities are still in one hand. However, some specific and unique facilities are still owned and managed by Philips.

New tenants in HTCE get two types of contracts with two organisations affiliated to Chalet Group: a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with HTCE Site Management and a Lease Contract with Calittum HTCE for rent and parking space. The first one overs three types of services: collective obligatory services that are site related (e.g. energy, ICT, infrastructure, etc.); collective optional services if needed; and optional services that are free choice and taken via HTCE Site Management (Curvelo Magdaniel, 2016).

TU Delft Science Park once started in 2005 as a predominantly real estate project by property developers Bouwfonds MAB and ING Real Estate: Technopolis Innovation Park (120 ha). University and municipality took care of the financial aspects of land development, including financial risks. The developers took care of the master plan and the investments needed, would buy the land from the owners and develop the buildings. All parties worked together in a project organisation, but due to the lack of expertise in the development companies the project failed and the university took over. The exclusive cooperation agreement between the landowners of Technopolis and ING Vastgoed and MAB / Bouwfonds was disbanded. Today the university has the lead and is looking for the best form to manage the development. The university also offers space for companies in their own buildings. Municipality and university work together on the marketing of the science park in ‘Delft Technology Partners’.

So far for the involvement of real estate companies. One being successful, but another wasn’t. In the Netherlands property developers are reluctant and if a developer is interested the question often is how to convince investors. It is a niche market and if developers or investors don’t feel comfortable, projects will not start. Even when it is only about buildings it is sometimes difficult to get the project going. Specialisation, however, helps as is shown by the successful developments of Kadans Science Partner. A very interesting aspect is that this developer/investor combines a real estate development with the management of the building, as the building remains in the portfolio of Kadans. Kadans provides a total package of services, including workspace facilities, coaching, advice, financing and access to its network.

To stimulate investments and to make investments easier to get, the Netherlands Investment Institution (NLII) is now organising a fund for science parks and R&D related real estate. Pension funds and insurers can invest directly in this fund.

In the case of the Amsterdam Science Park the estate is owned by municipality and university together, however, it is a patchwork of ownership. The estate of the Dutch Scientific Organisation (NWO) covers the northern part of the science park and has its own park management. Municipality and university sell the available land for the same price. Both took care of the urban master plan, which is supervised by the municipality.

The construction zones are subject to a building code that is characterized by a continuous and varied network structure that establishes a system of successive public and semi-public spaces. Situating communal amenities at junctions fosters concentrations of public activity. Instead of standing like isolated jewels in the landscape, the buildings ‘fold’ themselves around the courtyards and interweave with adjacent buildings. In this way, interactivity, knowledge exchange and cooperation among the companies in the area are stimulated. This creates a base for successful social and economic interaction through stimulating a ‘xenogamy’ of various talents, ideas and insights.

Companies that want to establish on the park go to the central organisation which takes care of the first contact. Contracts are handled by the landowners and the municipality checks if the company fits into the profile as described in the spatial plan. Daily management is carried out by the Science and Business Organization of Amsterdam Science Park. This is the central and joint organization of the three founding partners, which are the city of Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam and NWO. These three are in the board of directors and are joint by four other representatives of companies and institutions on the park. The main goal of the S&B organisation is to connect entrepreneurship, education and research and to connect Amsterdam Science Park with its external partners. The main focus points of the management organisation are:

  • acquisition & retention;
  • valorisation & entrepreneurship;
  • corporate communication;
  • functions & facilities;
  • internal & external relations.

It all works well together, but it is said that an improvement can be achieved if the land is in one hand and competencies are concentrated, both preferably within the existing management organisation.

The same ideas can be heard in Utrecht Science Park. Stakeholders are the Utrecht University, the academic hospital and the Hogeschool Utrecht (College). Provincial and local government is also involved but not an owner of building or land. Daily management is carried out by Foundation Utrecht Science Park.

Several parties own the land. That includes parking spaces, but the fares for parking are not synchronised. Interested companies and institutions can have a site on the basis of a land lease. Available land is sold by the university, but in general interested parties start the discussion with the foundation.

In a project carried out in 2016, the joint conclusion was that too many parties were involved in too many aspects of the science park. The ambition is to get a slim and flexible organisation, which will be the existing foundation. The question is, however, which tasks can be handed over, under what conditions (mandate). The joint ambition is

  • a common vision regarding the development of the science park (urban development, economic impact, target groups, growth strategy, etc.);
  • joint park management;
  • joint mobility management;
  • joint parking management;
  • cooperation in offering services to the community;
  • marketing and acquisition of the target group, including a strict admission policy.

In the vision attention has to be paid to the question of how costs, profits and risks can be distributed among the stakeholders. Whatever the organisation, the stakeholders are all customers of the daily organisation (the existing foundation). A  stakeholder analysis it is determined to find out which stakeholders are involved and the degree of the influence they can get.

With regard to the area development, each party retains his responsibilities as currently laid down. Joining forces in this field will be discussed in a later stage.

Looking at Utrecht and Amsterdam it is clear that there is a feeling that the governance of a science park should be organised in such a way that all relevant tasks are carried out by one central organisation. This can be heard in several other places in The Netherlands. Managers involved are very much interested in (rather) simple organisations as have been set up for Oxford Science Park or Surrey Science Park in the United Kingdom. So, during a project for Utrecht Science Park, the question rose: what can be a rather general governance model that takes every stakeholder seriously, but makes one central, coordinating management office possible? How to optimise governance?

Optimalisation of governance

The starting point is that in today’s innovation areas the development of a knowledge network of companies and institutions is essential (including facilities). The same goes for the creation of a community (which is more focussed on personnel, offering services and a top working environment). All together: the ecosystem. Of course one needs also an attractive area and buildings that suit the needs of companies and institutions that are focussed on innovations. This leads to following simple way of reasoning: development strategy à ecosystem à physical development. It cannot be denied that first of all the ‘guests’ in the estate (companies, institutions, university, leading innovative company, others) are central. This leads to the scheme presented in figure 4.

The scheme makes a distinction between the social-economic system (blue) and the physical, spatial system (brown) which creates the conditions for the social-economic system. The two main activities in the social-economic system will be carried out by one organisation, taking care of daily management and strategies and is controlled by a supervising council in which all relevant stakeholders are represented. That includes the stakeholders responsible for the area and the buildings. Now we have to add government. First of all because the plans have to fit into the legal plans of (local) government. Also the university, for example, will have its own policy that can be relevant for the development. Now we have a model that is recognisable in several science parks in The Netherlands (figure 5).

 Figure 4: in search for a governance structure – starting positionOrganisatie 1

Figure 5: The extended schemeOrganisatie 2

Problem is, however, that daily management has no direct control over the physical environment. In many of the Dutch cases this doesn’t hamper the functioning of daily management, although it is often said that it makes coordinated management of the estate less easy and asks for more coordination than would be necessary. Therefore, the next step in the model is to give the ecosystem management organisation the mandate to take care of the area and real estate management Figure 6). To complete the picture we can add the linkages between the central management organisation and external parties that offer financial solutions, which are of great importance for the companies and institutions working in the innovation area. Stakeholders in the Utrecht Science Park are now together exploring the possibilities for such a model.

Figure 6: Final schemeorganisatie 3

New themes in management

The ideas about managing an innovation area have changed over the years. It would be simple to think that it would stop here. New developments are coming up, like serendipity management or changing the introvert character of STPs and co-innovation parks and making these estates focal points in a regional network.

Serendipity management

A new element in managing the networks of an innovation area is creating or stimulating serendipity. Essentially serendipity management 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 workplaces 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 researchers 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 to build teams, 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 managers and involved parties.

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

Regional embeddedness

A STP can only develop and be successful if it is situated in an innovative region. So, it is logical that a STP, but also other innovation areas, is well connected with its region. An innovation area needs regional embeddedness. An innovation area, in fact, is nothing more than a spatial cluster of R&D related activities within an innovative region. And even than: what is a region when we are talking about innovation? The best innovation areas are or are becoming hubs in large, global networks, thanks to enhanced telecommunication and travel options.

Linkages in the regional network can be established by companies and institutions. Part of the game can be the creation of satellites by an innovation area. As an innovation area has reached the limits of its growth, occasionally “branches” are developed in other parts of the region. One out of three members of IASP already has one or more branches. In The Netherlands none of the innovation areas have branches. In 2016 the Utrecht Science Park was the first one to think about establishing satellites because the park itself is almost fully occupied. A project has been carried out to find out what the best locations are. Two branch types were distinguished:

  • development cluster: applied R&D and development of products based on the results of basic research;
  • testing cluster: laboratories, pilot plants and the like.

After the first selection of 37 locations, 11 were investigated in more detail. 14 variables, grouped in three main dimensions, were used to test the suitability of these possible satellites:

  • (spatial) quality of the location and companies present (availability of sites and buildings, representability of the buildings, availability of services, quality of public space, other companies present);
  • reachability (travel time to Utrecht Science Park by car and by public transport, time to reach a motorway, time to reach a railway station);
  • development potential by local government (legal cooperation, welcoming attitude, willingness to invest, park management, strict admission policy).

To test the stability of the outcomes two sets of weighted variables were used, which had no great impact on the outcomes. Utrecht Science park now starts to use a nearby complex as its first satellite. The other selected sites are under further investigation.

With or without branches, larger regions can have several innovation areas within its borders. An interesting example in The Netherlands is the Eindhoven region (figure 7) which has a mix of co-innovation parks, science parks, university campus, so-called creative factories (a cluster of creative or innovative small firms in an old factory). To profit from such a constellation and in general of an overrepresentation of innovative companies just innovation area management will not be sufficient. Regional management is needed to link innovation companies, institutions and innovation areas. Such strategic regional cooperation between all relevant parties is also a good starting point to link the region to global networks and become a hub in these networks (some information on networks on a higher geographical scale will be presented later on).

Figure 7: Eindhoven region (The Netherlands) as an example of an innovative region with several focal points Eindhoven

Regional cooperation

The combination of different types of innovation areas with regional cooperation between parties involved, has made the Eindhoven region a key player in innovation and in global innovation networks. The Eindhoven region promotes itself as Brainport. Main goal of Brainport management is not the development of innovation areas but is achieving economic growth. The focus is primarily on innovation networks and the business environment that is needed to develop and sustain these networks. There is no direct link between the management of the innovation areas and regional management.

The region is now working on a new strategy: Brainport Next Generation to be able to adapt to new developments. They will move towards a Multi Helix model which also involves citizens, customers, consumers, investors, designers, artists and corporations. It is expected that by broadening the scope faster implementation and an accelerating rate of innovation will be possible. Brainport wants to achieve breakthrough projects and ‘living labs’ will be set up by strong consortiums of innovative companies, knowledge institutions and social partners.

Another example of regional economic cooperation is Science Port Holland which was founded in 2008 and is a regional partnership of the municipalities of Delft and Rotterdam and the Technical University of Delft. Together they worked towards the realization of an attractive business environment within the region Delft – Rotterdam for knowledge-intensive companies. One of the tasks of Science Port Holland was the development of five innovation areas. Today the name of the organisation has changed into InnovationQuarter and there is no longer a focus on developing innovation areas. The focus today is much more on the regional-economic aspects of innovation. “The mission of InnovationQuarter is to strengthen the regional economy by supporting and stimulating the innovation potential of the area. In close cooperation with all major corporations, educational and research institutions – like the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Delft University of Technology and Leiden University – and government organisations, InnovationQuarter supports technological developments, encourages entrepreneurship and invests in start-up companies.”

Hubs in global networks

At the regional level linkages between companies and institutions are easy to establish. Good functioning of regional networks, together with other factors (such as labour market, infrastructure, living environment, etc.) can make a region and its innovation areas a success. Although these regional networks or ecosystems are crucial, most important are the higher-level networks: national and international, which are in first instance determined by the linkages of individual companies and institutions. Information on innovative developments is such a valuable asset that in fact distances do not matter. Today worldwide communication has become so easy that innovation often happens on a global scale. “The innovation activities are becoming borderless, yet interconnected. Thus, the future success of innovation ecosystems is measured increasingly in the abilities of innovation actors (and core organisations) to connect and manage talent, partnerships, clusters and practical innovation processes – in combining the local knowledge base into the global innovation power grid” (Launonen and Vitanen, 2011). In a survey among entrepreneurs established on Dutch STPs 64% acknowledged the following statement: “”If it is about really crucial knowledge for my business, distant is no issue. If necessary, I will travel to the other end of the world to gain this knowledge”.

Results from the same research project seem to suggest that size and constellation of innovation areas seem to play a role in the linkages and the intensity with which an innovation area or a region is taken up in global networks. Leiden Bioscience Park in the western part of The Netherlands is a rather stand-alone development in its region, whereas – as shown before – the Eindhoven region has a number of innovation areas and strong regional cooperation of stakeholders involved. It is interesting to see that the companies in Leiden Bioscience Park are much more interested in global linkages than Eindhoven is, whereas the companies established on High Tech Campus Eindhoven show strong local and regional linkages, demonstrating the strong regional network (figure 8).

Figure 8: the regional focus of companies on two Dutch science parks

Focus eindhoven en leiden

To conclude

It must have become clear that buildings are no longer the main aspect of science parks and – more broadly – innovation areas, but that community building 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, the 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: the infrastructure, the buildings and the networks. This actually makes an interdisciplinary set up of the 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 specific way 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

  • Christiaanse, K. (2007), Campus and the City.
  • Curvelo Magdaniel, Flavia (2016), Technology campuses and cities. A study on the relation between innovation and the built environment at the urban area level. Delft, The Netherlands): Technical University.
  • European Commission (2013), Setting up, managing and evaluating EU science and technology parks.
  • Kakko, Ilkka (2013), The Fundamentals of Third Generation Science Park Concept. Paper for the UNESCO-WTA International Training Workshop, Daejeon, Korea.
  • Launonen, Martti, and Jukka Viitanen (2011), Hubconcepts. Helsinki, Finland.
  • Nilina, Anna; Josep Pique; Luis Sanz (red.): Areas of innovation in a global world. IASP (e-book).
  • 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 industrial innovation campus

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.

Site design for science parks

Prof. dr. Jacques van Dinteren, Zjak Consult

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.