Urenio Watch Watch: Technology Parks

Mega Research Parks Intensify Global Competition

As more nations try to gain an edge in the next generation of knowledge industries, stunning new high-tech meccas are going up from Asia to Europe to Latin America, a building spree that hardly has been slowed by the recession. A latest special report from BusinessWeek magazine tracks science park trends by presenting a number of Mega Research Parks that are under development around the world.

According to the report, the current trend in new science parks’ developments is to nurture living, breathing communities rather than sterile, remote compounds of research silos. Planners don’t want to mimic Triangle Research Park’s original design or Tsukuba Science City, where 13,000 researchers toil in 300 R&D facilities in an isolated site an hour away by train from Tokyo. Instead, they are drawing inspiration from the kind of vibrant ecosytem that evolved organically near the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass. They hope to design their parks based on visions of what 21st century innovation environments will need.

Most new research parks incorporate the trappings of “new urbanism,” the planning principles at work at the preferred destinations for young creative types. That means relatively inexpensive housing within minutes of labs by foot or bike. It also means cafes, parks, entertainment spots, and social centers where entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers from many disciplines can mingle and network. And it means state-of-the-art telecommunication and IT infrastructure to enable innovators to link effortlessly to counterparts around the planet.

We want a location for people to live, work, and play, says Yeoh Keat Chuan, biomedical sciences executive director of the Economic Development Board of Singapore, which is incorporating all of these elements into One North. “We want to provide a window of what an Asian city of the future will look like.”

The magazine also presents the opposite point of view. Anthony Townsend, from the Institute for the Future, argues that today’s hottest startup incubators are small, nimble outfits that collaborate and leverage their strengths via the Web.

Virtual labs are one of several megatrends Townsend says could transform science parks over the next 5 to 20 years. Some changes will favor traditional research centers, especially those built on world-class universities. He predicts that new products and services will continue to emerge from creative clusters with “strong, unique competitive advantages such as cutting-edge scientific knowledge, new research tools, and technical practices.”

Special Report Contents

  • Research Parks for the Knowledge Economy
  • Slide Show: Science Parks: Where the Future Is Being Created
  • Singapore’s One North
  • A Mexican Technology Park in Monterrey
  • Research Triangle: A Model for Other Parks
  • Barcelona’s Big Bet On Innovation
  • An Innovation Hub in Northern England?
  • Science Parks Vs. Boutique Labs


BusinessWeek Special Report: The Global Economy’s Latest Weapon: The Mega Research Park