Science and Technological Parks play a significant role in knowledge and technology transfer into the European Union market. There are more than 365 Parks across the EU today, hosting approximately 40,000 organisations that employ that employ 750,000 people, mostly in high value added jobs. They contribute to regional economic development and facilitate the emergence of new technology-based companies.
The European Union has recently published a guide for good practise to setting up, managing and evaluating EU science and technology parks.
The success and potentials of Science and Technology Parks are not uniform. The characteristics of the local economy, the local research base as well as the degree of local partnerships among public and private stakeholders are key components for their success.
These local characteristics are firmly embedded in the smart specialisation policy process, which is a basic principle of the new, reformed, Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020. To have defined Smart Specialisation Strategies is a condition that has to be fulfilled before any funding on research and innovation is spend from the European Structural and Investment Funds.
The guide underlines the role played by Science and Technology Parks to develop regional economies and looks at their performance, from the setting-up to the operational phase. Moreover, it provides a compilation of good practices in the field of their management and aims at facilitating public authorities’ decision with regard to financial support.
Amongst the characteristics displayed across the majority of the EU’s STPs that clearly differentiates them from a good quality business park or other pure property investment, are the following.They:
- Operate careful tenant selection policies
- Selectively prioritise the newer knowledge-based technology industries
- Engage with the knowledge base (primarily universities and public research organisations)
- Engage cooperatively with other public and private sector actors
- Own and/or operate one or more business incubation schemes
- Provide professional business support and innovation services designed to increase the depth and extent of innovation-led and knowledge based business in their region or locality as well as within their park.