Innovation Area Development Partnership

Managing the ecosystem of innovation areas

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.

Room for Knowledge Development: from Science Park to Innovation District

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.

Your own industrial innovation campus

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.

Concept and market orientation; heart and soul of the urban master plan

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.

Success factors for Science Parks

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.