Places to innovate

To avoid complexity we use the following definitions for the main concepts:

Science (or technology) park: an organisation managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions. To enable these goals to be met, a science or technology park stimulates and manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; it facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provides other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities (definition by IASP).

Industrial innovation park: whereas science and technology parks have a strong linkage with (nearby) universities, the industrial innovation park is centred around a leading innovative company. The aim is to organise co-innovation between companies that work in the same or adjacent fields. Research institutions and (annexes of) universities can be a part of the network. The industrial innovation park differs from a general science park in various ways:

  • In essence these parks are 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 of a science park are generally less intense than those of an industrial innovation park.
  • Because an industrial innovation park 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.

Innovation district: a designated zone with its own specific management team, whose main objectives include economic development via the promotion and attraction of selected innovative businesses for which specific services are provided or made available. 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 innovation district interact (definition by Luis Sanz). Compared with science parks and campusses innovation districts have an attractive mix of functions, including housing.

Innovation area: has a twofold meaning:

  1. A collective name for the concepts mentioned above.
  2. A larger area, often a region, that focuses heavily on innovation. Within such a region, science parks, campuses and innovation districts can be found. There is a specific regional management body that coordinates the development and – among others – takes care of the balance with other different local developments.